21 Jun 2024, 11:46
Julian Wettengel

Focus on prefabricated building insulation can help overcome skills shortage bottleneck - consultancy

Clean Energy Wire

The shortage of skilled labour is the decisive hurdle that keeps Germany from modernising enough buildings towards more energy-efficiency to reach climate targets, said construction industry consultancy S&B Strategy. "There is simply a lack of tradespeople to carry out the refurbishment work in full," said the consultancy. The capacity bottleneck in the skilled trades is therefore "jeopardising Germany's entire climate strategy." Instead of simply trying to get more tradespeople, the construction industry must become more efficient by focusing on prefabrication and new business models, S&B Strategy said. Prefabricated modules and efficient end-to-end processes could increase the number of projects completed per tradesperson and speed up refurbishment. The consultancy said that reaching climate neutrality in the buildings sector by 2045 would require investments of 1.2 trillion euros, and is not possible under today's conditions. An example for prefabricated insulation is the Dutch "Energiesprong" retrofitting approach, where the exterior of a house is scanned with a laser to allow the production of insulation modules in the required sizes at the factory. This usually cuts installation time to less than a week.

In Europe's journey to make buildings climate friendly, the carbon impact of construction materials has largely remained an afterthought. This is despite the fact that construction and renovation are incredibly polluting activities. They require massive amounts of resources and generate huge quantities of waste. The use of more sustainable materials and innovative building practices has started to rise as the first industry players expand efforts to make construction truly climate-friendly. Still, their share remains relatively small compared to the size of the industry. Experts agree that Europe must urgently expand its focus from cleaning up heating to a wider view of buildings' sustainability - from manufacture through to demolition.

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