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17 Aug 2022, 14:53
Hannah Naylor

Green construction materials next step to climate neutrality – German construction minister

Süddeutsche Zeitung

As solar panels, thermal insulation and heat pumps are increasingly becoming a standard in the tens of thousands of new houses that are built each year in the country, it is now the construction materials used to build them that remain a threat to emissions levels, German construction minister Klara Geywitz said according to an article by Süddeutsche Zeitung. Germany could only become “climate-friendly if we build with different materials and if we manufacture the materials differently,” Geywitz said during a trip to construction companies near Berlin. Concrete, cement, bricks and even sand lime bricks all require huge amounts of energy during their production, including burning and baking, which release large amounts of emissions. According to the German government’s climate protection report, houses and their construction are responsible for around 40 percent of the country’s total emissions - this includes the materials used, the debris generated during construction and the heating of the buildings.

Building material producer Baustoffwerke Havelland from eastern state Brandenburg said it could use bricks as a carbon storage with locally sourced materials. Factory director Christian Bertmaring assured that “the sand lime brick absorbs half of the CO2 produced over time, and does so permanently.” Wood is also on the list of building materials being considered, as carbon dioxide remains permanently bound in it. However, Geywitz said that “we’re not going to start building everything with wood now.”                                                                                                                                          

In July, the government presented climate action programmes for all sectors, which highlighted the need for a reform of the building industry. Minister Robert Habeck said Germany was set to miss its 2030 emissions reduction targets by 15 percent if no new measures were introduced.

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