In English | ISSUE 3/2022

Preface: Down with emissions – up with growth curves

Preface: Down with emissions – up with growth curves

Concrete dates back to the ancient times and still today is the most widely used building material in the world. It is durable and versatile. It had its uses in the past and will have also in the future. However, the construction industry is about to face a new era. Climate change must be curbed, emissions cut down and carbon neutrality must be the goal in everything we do. We must together find solutions to the challenges and the construction industry plays an important role in it.

The built-up environment produces about one third of all greenhouse emissions in Finland. Energy consumption during the occupancy of buildings is the main source of emissions. This is why the most effective solutions can be found in improving the energy efficiency of the current building stock and adopting low-emission energy forms.

In the building sector, most of the emissions are produced at the construction stage and in the manufacture and transport of building materials. Smart planning and further development of materials go a long way to effectively lower emissions from construction. The development of concrete, for example, is an effective, cost-efficient and necessary route to cutting emissions. Concrete is used in many applications where it is difficult to replace with any other material. We have already taken effective and groundbreaking efforts in Finland to reduce emissions related to building materials. There is a range of ready-to-use products available that cut down material emissions by more than 50 percent. New innovations are introduced, one after the other. In many cases, the most effective innovations have their origin in the concrete industry.

The building sector has knowledge and means to resolve the global climate challenge. We have the will and the means to develop and produce solutions and convert them into a new, profitable business. We need to increase international research and cooperation as well as the use of Finnish innovations, both in Finland and around the world.

The government must also take action. The operators in the construction industry have already started. Public funding is also needed to create new innovations and reduce the carbon footprint in the industry. A good example is the shared LOIKKA project of the Association of Concrete Industry in Finland and Aalto University, funded by Business Finland. The purpose of the project is to cut down carbon dioxide emissions of concrete construction by half. We need more projects like this. The builders are ready, let’s hope the decision-makers are as well.

Aleksi Randell, Managing Director, Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT