Most people know that the construction and real estate sector accounts for a significant portion of Sweden's environmental impact. Soon, the industry may face stricter guidelines and regulations. The government has tasked the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) with developing the transition to a circular economy in the construction sector. This involves minimizing waste and increasing material recycling in various ways. Proposed measures will be present to the government by December 20, 2024. At the same time, the European Union is preparing for new stringent requirements for energy performance in existing buildings, which will compel many property owners to renovate their portfolios in the coming years.
Many companies today are committed to long-term sustainability, considering it an integral part of their business plans. However, some have made more progress than others.
One of our clients, Fasadgruppen, is at the forefront of sustainable business practices and innovative solutions. They actively work on environmental issues and have clear objectives that permeate their entire organization, according to Adrian Westman, IR and Sustainability Manager at Fasadgruppen.
"Our overarching ambition is to be the best in sustainable business practices, which is why we must also lead in climate transition. From our perspective, when it comes to the climate issue, our direct impact is relatively limited; our main emissions come from our vehicle fleet. However, the climate impact of the materials we use in our facade services is significant. Therefore, together with our customers, we want to transition to choosing sustainable materials," says Adrian.
Fasadgruppen is the leading player in the Nordic region regarding all work related to a property's external envelope. It is a growing conglomerate with 50 subsidiaries spread across the Nordic countries.
Bio-bricks and various types of facade cleaning
Fasadgruppen gladly tests new innovative solutions to reduce emissions. They advocate and prefer to use bricks produced with biogas instead of natural gas. The biogas method significantly reduces CO2 emissions. The hope is that, in the long run, only bio-bricks or recycled bricks will be available.
"When it comes to waste, we recycle harmless old materials and use unused materials in other projects. We only work with approved, environmentally certified chemicals when cleaning facades. We are also at the forefront and test new environmentally friendly methods as they emerge. For example, one of our Danish subsidiaries uses lasers for facade cleaning. This method has not been used in Sweden before, but we are currently testing it. It works very well on sensitive facades, such as heritage buildings. It is an environmentally friendly alternative to other facade cleaning methods."
New techniques for facade heating
Fasadgruppen is currently working on a project in collaboration with El-Björn. The project aims to test new environmentally friendly heating techniques for winter work since working on facades in cold temperatures is impossible. Traditionally, facades are heated using diesel or propane. This happens in an uncontrolled manner, with significant emissions as a result. In the project with El-Björn, the facades are instead heated using pellets. During a test period with this method, CO2 emissions were reduced by a staggering 90%. The number of projects will be expanded, and the concept will be optimized based on the lessons learned for the next winter season.
Many older properties leak like a sieve
The primary mission of Fasadgruppen and its 50 subsidiaries is to renovate and improve the energy efficiency of the Nordic real estate portfolio. Adrian believes we should make better use of the electricity already being produced.
"Unfortunately, the energy debate often focuses on how we should produce new energy and in what ways. The fact is that many older properties leak energy like a sieve. We should focus more on energy efficiency and how we can save on the energy we currently produce. How we generate new energy is not the only solution for sustainable energy production."
Adrian explains that Fasadgruppen helps property owners realize the benefits of specific energy-efficient measures. With new technology, properties can be made more energy-efficient in various ways.
"For example, we work with a fantastic product called SmartFront. It involves placing ventilation channels on the exterior of the existing facade during a facade renovation. Additional insulation is then applied to the facade, followed by plastering. This method achieves insulation and heat recovery from the exhaust air as if putting a sweater and a mask on the property. Together, they reduce energy consumption by over 50%," concludes Adrian.