Our world is changing – and so is the way we look at buildings. Recent global events have impacted how we use them, while population expansion and economic growth will inevitably mean we’ll need more of them.
So it’s perhaps no surprise to learn that it won’t be long before the first kilometer-high skyscraper towers over the planet. Given that the trend for urbanization will continue unabated, the way that new buildings are constructed – and the capacity for existing buildings to be adapted – continue to be the subject of much discussion.
Various factors are driving this conversation, not least the fact that according to the World Green Building Council, the lighting, heating and cooling of buildings is responsible for almost a third of global CO2 emissions.
Why does this interest a company like AkzoNobel? Well, we’re a major supplier of sustainable paints and coatings solutions to the construction industry. It means we can make an important contribution to the ongoing transformation of the built environment, which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and make them healthier places to live and work.
Think about it. The days when paint just added color to something are long gone. Paint has evolved. It’s gone way beyond the boundaries of the surface it’s applied to. That’s because we’re constantly innovating. Finding new ways to develop more durable and resource-efficient paints that protect buildings and help construction materials to last longer. Products that can keep buildings cool, or clean indoor air, for example. It’s a bit like giving paint a superpower, although the generally accepted term is “enhanced functionality”. Let’s face it. Paint matters.
We offer an extensive portfolio of sustainable solutions that qualify for use on green buildings in countries around the world. They can help in achieving green building certifications (or green labels) such as LEED, WELL and BREEAM. That means we play a valuable role in helping green buildings to meet key criteria, such as reducing carbon emissions from the built environment, preserving precious natural resources and improving the quality of life for people who live and work in them.
As a proud member of the World Green Building Council (and various local and regional Green Building Councils), we’re committed to making cities and communities more sustainable. We also believe campaigns such as World Green Building Week (WGBW) can be instrumental in motivating and empowering people and organizations to deliver greener buildings everywhere, for everyone.
This year’s WGBW theme is “Building resilience for climate, people and economies”, which aligns perfectly with our own People. Planet. Paint. approach to doing sustainable business. We’ve set ourselves very clear ambitions, which include reducing our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and operating on 100% renewable electricity by 2030. We’re also on course to achieve 100% renewable electricity across Europe by 2022.
These ambitions mean we’re ideally placed to help build the resilience that WGBW is striving for. Let’s give this a bit more context by looking at the three broad areas (climate action; health and well-being; resources and circularity) where AkzoNobel really makes a difference. We supply products than can:
- Provide lower energy consumption in the application/use phase and contain lower embodied carbon
- Bring health and well-being benefits to users of buildings by improving indoor air quality and contain less substances of concern
- Enable waste reduction, use less or recycled materials and offer longer lasting performance
Many of our products that are used by the global construction industry also have environmental product declarations (EPDs), which creates transparency around their environmental performance. Meanwhile, for many other products that support better indoor air quality, we provide low emission certificates.
And when it comes to sustainability and how far we’re prepared to go, our commitment to making buildings greener is only part of the story. For example, we recently became the first paints and coatings company to have its science-based sustainability targets officially validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
By announcing carbon reduction targets for the full value chain (50% by 2030, with a baseline of 2018), we’ve aligned our own sustainability ambitions with the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global warming and ensure that global temperature rise doesn’t exceed 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels. There’s no doubt that making buildings more resilient can play a major role in achieving this.
Collaboration is also key to taking widespread climate action to limit global warming to 1.5ºC, evidenced by our CEO, Thierry Vanlancker, being a member of the European CEO Alliance. This is a cross-industry partnership designed to help fight climate change, build economic resilience and make a success of the EU Green Deal.
Meanwhile, our Paint the Future collaborative innovation ecosystem is helping to drive the development of new sustainable solutions for the built environment. So clearly there’s still a lot of innovation that needs to happen – and we’re working on it with like-minded partners – for example by developing longer lasting paints, recycled paints and bio-based paints.
Ultimately, it’s all about reducing our impact on the planet and consistently innovating to deliver the most sustainable – and resilient – solutions for our customers.