The New Green Deal in Europe: will it be enough?
Even though some may think the New Green Deal is not enough, we need to participate to make it real. Because we are not only speaking about climate change that per se is important enough. We are talking about a new way of doing things. And let's face it: we really need it.
Maybe not, but it is a much-needed start.
To understand where we are today, it is necessary to look back and analyze where we came from. This may help us to better grasp what this New Green Deal represents, as a culmination of the last 20 years of energy efficiency policies. For many, the Deal is insufficient, but others see it as a firm commitment and are waiting to see how it develops in practical terms, including what measures will be established by the EU with the new economic fund.
In 2006, the Energy Efficiency Action Plan (EEAP) introduced progressive efficiency objectives with a target date of 2020. The 20% reduction in the objective was a brave move and beneficial for most sectors. However, despite the Commission's specific recommendations, by 2015 it was already anticipated that, at most, the decrease in energy consumption would be between 6% and 11% - far from reaching 20%.
After analyzing the barriers to this change, the conclusion is that there were several factors that prevented the 2020 target from being achieved via the planned savings. These factors were: the lack of the political and regulatory commitment needed to drive the changes, to implement them; economic measures that placed the initial costs of technological changes on end users; long and complicated administrative processes; and cultural barriers to the adoption of new technologies.
Obviously, the European Union’s ongoing efforts to reduce energy consumption have not been enough, overall and in buildings. The strong need for efforts and investment to implement the changes was not taken into account and the impact of the global financial crisis imposed very different priorities for most sectors.
Today, the New Green Deal includes an investment of a trillion euros to achieve the 2050 zero emissions objective; a clear commitment and a big shift from the previous approach. What’s more, it implies not only a technological investment but the creation of a new economy. For many, this is perhaps one of the most substantial changes: a shift towards a new productive model based on circular economy and the recovery and reuse of resources with the clear objective of efficiency.
A cultural change
Scientific evidence in recent years has shown that the threat of climate change is real and far more than a conspiracy theory. Few people doubt the impact of climate change anymore, but the necessary cultural and economic shifts are not going to be easy.
Such cultural change won’t happen without global agreement. But that means ‘global’ in all senses, not only geographically, starting with a major change to the legal system and ending with a push for corporate responsibility. An effort that will only be possible with cooperation and compromise from all parties involved. If someone falters the rest of the pyramid falls.
We cannot expect that end users to sacrifice their comfort for the sake of all if corporations are not willing to pollute less and states do not optimize their facilities.
It may seem like a utopia, but at URSA we have committed ourselves to education and communication of the advantages regarding our “small” area of expertise: energy efficiency in buildings and thermal (and acoustic) insulation. European housing stock is outdated, and this means that the potential for improvement is huge. Small gestures, such as good insulation, can result in huge savings.
The sector must commit to driving these changes, not only creating new jobs and greater sustainability as a result but also confirming the direction that the European Union is indicating with the New Green Deal. Although to some it may fall short, there is no turning back: it’s a choice between joining the ‘battle’ or losing the ‘war’.
- Big Data
- Building Renovation
- Circular Economy
- Climate change
- CO2 Reduction
- Energy certified
- Energy efficiency
- ESG rating
- Green Deal
- Green Recovery
- Healthy homes
- Human rights
- Mineral wool
- Renovation Wave
- Safe homes
- Safe work
- Solidarity Campaigns
- Thermal insulation
- UN Sustainable Development Goals
- United Nations Global Compact
- We are URSA
- We are Xella
- Xella Group
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Measurably sustainable: Sustainability Report 2020
In the new sustainability report, we make our sustainability ambitions and targets transparent and measurable.
Our goal: driving innovative strength
Innovation management, basic research, and technological development: This is the foundation on which we position the Xella Group for the future and meeting societal as well as industry -specific challenges – be it climate protection, energy savings, or resource efficiency. Since 2014, we have therefore been operating our own technology and research company (Technologie - und Forschungsgesellschaft / T&F) near Berlin.
A new edition of our Sustainability Report is coming soon
ESG is not a new topic or trend for us. For decades, URSA and Xella, all together, stood for sustainable and innovative construction and insulation materials that make a significant contribution to the energy efficiency of buildings.
Our goal: Responsible leadership
As a company, we take our economic and social role very seriously and want to be a fair, reliable and trustworthy partner to our customers, business partners and employees. In order to always comply with ethical and legal standards in our business activities and in our dealings with our supply chain, we place high demands on our governance.
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home. More than ever this sentence has become more relevant to “the whole world” in the covid19 era. We are finding the need to live in safe, efficient and comfortable homes as they have become our only place to be when times are tough. Why don´t we rethink our economic model and base it on #sustainability and research, whilst at the same time protecting the #climate?
Protect the climate and stimulate the economy with efficient support programs
At the heart of European climate and energy policy is the creation of structures for a secure, affordable and environmentally compatible energy supply. Given the consequences of the corona pandemic, Europe is also facing massive economic challenges, e.g. rising unemployment, declining economic output, a drastic slump in local business and income tax revenues, cancelled or postponed investments.
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Our goal: Safe work
Safety in the workplace is a top priority at URSA as part of Xella Group. That's why we see it as a matter of course to promote the long-term health of our employees and ensure their safety. We want our employees to go home from work every day healthy and unharmed.
#GreenRecovery: Adaptation of Subsidy Programs is Key Now
It is great to see that the German government decided on a green recovery package. It increased the budget for #EnergeticRenovation programs for private and public buildings, and social facilities significantly by 2 billion EUR in 2020 and 2021 totaling each year 2,5 billion EUR to reduce our #CO2emissions.
Big Data and building renovation: out of sight, out of mind
If we use Big Data for almost everything, why not use it for energy efficiency? Right now, we have no real idea of what is going on in Europe´s building stock. Information is key to change things, also in energy efficiency in buildings.
Our goal: A strong team
Our employees form the basis of our long-term success. We want to be an attractive employer in all respects. High-quality training at Xella and investments in our employees' qualifications contribute to this, as do fair, performance-based remuneration, a non-discriminatory working environment, and flexible options for balancing work and family life.
Women in construction
Today, it is still unusual to find women in construction. We would like to stand out one of the exceptions at URSA. Marina explains her work and her daily challenges in an interview in which she claims: "Girls must be empowered to design their future and fight for it"
Our goal: Improving circular economy capabilities
Building materials from Xella consist mainly of natural raw materials and are almost completely recyclable. URSA insulation products are already largely made from reused materials. Therefore, the conversion of value chains to value cycles makes sense for us for ecological and economic reasons. The circular economy is thus a key aspect of our ESG strategy.
Being energy certified means up to 10% more value for your property
The real estate market increasingly values sustainability in buildings. But how to measure your capacity for savings and efficiency? New buyers are willing to pay up to 10% more for properties that can prove their reduced consumption with energy certificates. Insulation is the first step.
Our goal: Reduce CO2 emission intensity by 30% by 2030
URSA will contribute its own efforts to help Xella, the parent group, achieve its ambitious environmental goals aligned with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
URSA joins Xella Group in supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals
With our business model, we have a high level of positive impact opportunities. To actively leverage this, we sharpened our ESG focus as part of the review of our Sustainability Strategy 2020 and worked out how our strategy can contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this core vision, URSA has joined as well to work towards progress and sustainability together and better.
Acting responsibly: Xella joined UN Global Compact
Xella Group has joined the world's largest and most important initiative for responsible corporate governance: The United Nations Global Compact. Xella is committed to the ten sustainable principles in the areas of human rights, labor standards, the environment, and corruption prevention.
Our grain of sand to a Net Zero society
Xella has started an ambitious ESG journey and URSA has jumped on this train. Among our commitments, URSA MW insulation solutions will incorporate up to 80 % recycled materials in their manufacturing, besides other concrete and tangible objectives for occupational safety, diversity, and corporate social responsibility.
The first step towards insulation: mineral wool
Good insulation provides comfort, safety and sustainability for the home. Glass mineral wool solutions offer thermal and acoustic comfort, directly contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions in the European Union.
Dialog with our stakeholders and our essential sustainability topics
Our mission is to enable energy-efficient and long-lasting housing – and to provide as sustainably as possible. To achieve this goal and keep improving, we are in constant exchange with our stakeholders.
Solidarity goes beyond borders
At this important time, we want to promote the value of solidarity by sharing the different initiatives carried out by the different URSA regions with the aim of preserving the basic needs of people and contributing to a decent life.
Sustainability at Xella: Best in Class in our industry
The reputable ESG rating agency Sustainalytics has given Xella a rating of 18.3, putting Xella in first place out of all 115 companies in the building materials sector assessed by Sustainalytics. Sustainalytics therefore classifies the risk of financial impact caused by ESG aspects at Xella as low.
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Energy efficient and affordable housing – delivered sustainably
URSA, as part of Xella Group, stands for innovative, safe and sustainable building and insulation materials and is the solution provider for energy-efficient, healthy and cost-optimized construction. Thus, our product portfolio contributes to decarbonization and to a low-carbon construction sector.
Making open plan offices work – insulation, the critical ingredient
Open spaces have been a growing trend since 1990. But they are not always the most suitable option depending on where you are in the world. The sustainability, comfort and profitability of a business space or open space home will depend on insulation, climate and location.
Does the circular economy help minimize the environmental effects of the construction industry?
Applying the principle of the circular economy to construction materials and the renovation of buildings offers benefits not only for the sector but for society in general. The architect must be a fundamental part of this change in the way the world thinks.