UNEP DTU expert discusses sustainable building design with architecture students

October 25, 2019

UN City  and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation (KADK) hosted their annual conference on Friday 25 October at the UN City in Copenhagen. Students of the architecture school met to discuss how architects, designers and conservators can contribute to the 2030 agenda and implement the SDG’s within these industries.

130 students and staff from KADK participated in six different workshops moderated by KADK and UN representatives. Each session addressed different topics based on the Sustainable Development Goals: Good health and well-being, industry, innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities, responsible consumption and production, climate action and partnerships for the goals.

Senior Economist from UNEP DTU Partnership, Søren E. Lütken, delivered a key note with a focus on the immense carbon footprint of the built environment. Buildings consume a large proportion of the global energy production, be it for heating, cooling, lighting and other installations, but as the energy efficiency of the buildings themselves is increasing and the operational energy per square meter goes down towards zero- or even net positive energy housing, they are far from becoming carbon neutral. There is a rapidly growing focus on the carbon footprint of the materials going into construction, which has hardly been influenced at all by the energy efficiency agenda. To address this challenge, S. E. Lütken has developed a model that introduces the allocation of carbon budgets as part of construction permits to force the building sector to gradually reduce the carbon footprint of the materials going into building and construction.

In his message to the KADK students, he highlighted the immense influence that these students can have in their professional lives by working consciously with materials that have much less carbon footprint than the common construction materials of cement, steel and glass, which are among the largest emitters globally. Wood is among the key and obvious, new (or old) materials, but architects, designers and conservators still have a long way to go to set new norms for the way we build carbon consciously.