research on building blocks

The construction sector is seen as a rather sluggish oil tanker. This is not necessarily the best prerequisite in times of climate change, digitalization, commodity crises, and social and demographic changes. In the meantime, however, there has been a movement: the basis for this is research.

“The construction sector is certainly not a motorboat. But it is not as bad as it has always been described, “says Ralph Stöckl of the Institute for Construction Management and Economics of the Technical University (TU) of Graz, referring to numerous ongoing activities. Where are the innovations in the sector? What new technologies and materials are already in use, are they under development or could they play a role in the future? How can digitization be used? And what is the impact of climate change, sustainability and the circular economy? APA Science asked in tour.

Industry in (climate) change.

To adapt buildings to climate protection requirements, the entire construction industry is changing, explains Azra Korjenic of the Institute for Materials Technology, Building Physics and Building Ecology of the Technical University (TU) of Vienna : “We know that the construction sector is one of the economic sectors with the largest flows of materials, as well as the largest consumption of energy and resources, and that is why there is a lot to do here.” From the extraction of materials in nature, to transport routes, processing, building use phase and recycling, all must be considered and planned in an inclusive way, and more must be separated and recycled.

Five to ten years ago, the construction industry didn’t even focus on climate change, but now it has to think very carefully about how to invest the “greenhouse gas budget” it is entitled to according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he explains. Alexander Passer of the Chair of Sustainable Construction at the Institute for Structural Design at the Graz University of Technology. Regarding the Paris climate goals, climate policy will have to “speak harder than fiscal policy in the future,” he believes. Passer and his research group are currently developing computational models to determine greenhouse gas balances for the entire life cycle of a building.

Researchers from the construction industry Leopold Winkler and Maximilian Weigert of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Construction Process Management at the Vienna University of Technology found that a part of ten percent of greenhouse gas emissions for which the construction industry is responsible throughout the world can be spared on construction sites. The “CO2 neutral construction site” study they published shows that some technical and organizational measures can already reduce the CO2 load by half (see guest article “On the way to a CO2 neutral construction site”).

Focus on restructuring your inventory

“The big steps towards achieving climate goals in the construction sector must not be made in new buildings, but in the renovation of existing buildings,” says Markus Leeb of the Smart Building and Smart City research department of the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences. With his colleagues, he conducted a research project called “Zero Carbon Refurbishment II (ZeCaRe)” in an 1980s housing estate in Salzburg, which has consequently been made climate neutral. Not only was a renewable energy system with photovoltaics installed, waste air heat recovery, waste water recovery and boiler pellets, and the building was thermally insulated. In order for the mobility of the residents to be more respectful of the environment and the climate, there is now a large garage for bicycles, car sharing and cargo bikes.

“In Austria, most people live in single-family homes,” says Bernhard Sommer of the University of Applied Arts (Die Angewandte) in Vienna. This is a disadvantage when it comes to heating, because it is more expensive to connect them to district heating networks, for example, and they have a fairly large surface through which heat is lost relative to their volume. “When it comes to power generation using solar panels, however, the relatively large roof area is an advantage and you can also install heat pumps or use geothermal energy on the surrounding lawn,” he says: “We don’t have these options. in the city center.”

Leave a Comment