At the World Resources Forum, it’s no surprise that the construction industry and housing were active, as buildings are responsible for more than 40 % of global energy use and one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, there is a huge potential to save energy and materials through changing the building methods. Passive houses can save up to 95% energy in heating compared to standard buildings (exact savings depend on the local building code and climatic region). We can also refurbish old buildings and decrease energy needed for heating by 90%. Very promising numbers.
We can’t be obsessed with the growth imperative anymore, we have to de-couple economic growth from the use of resources and its environmental impacts. Be resource-efficient, be smart, be innovative. No chance to miss these proclamations at the WRF 2011 as they resonate everywhere . Why? Evidently the classical model of economic growth measured by GDP that should deliver prosperity fails in one important aspect: whilst creating goods and services, it destroys one of its crucial bases; natural capital.
Everybody who knows current European environmental policy could not be surprised by Janez Potočnik’s speech. The Sloveninan economist and European Commissioner for the Environment opened the WRF 2011 conference emphasizing the need for better resource-efficient economy. Potočnik started with a situation summary, as traditional with his speeches:
“The world’s population is increasing by around 200 000 people a day… By 2050 demand for food, feed and fibre is forecast to increase by 70% and yet 60% of our ecosystems underpinning these resources are already degraded… In the EU today we use some 16 tonnes of materials per person each year, of which 6 tonnes become waste…”