Making buildings more sustainable

Blog by Rinske van Heiningen, Director Sustainability

Green building is a bit of a trendy topic these days. Almost everyone in the industry is looking for solutions to make buildings more sustainable.

Which is a great opportunity for AkzoNobel, because many of our products are used in the buildings and infrastructure sector. We focus in particular on delivering benefits to our customers, society and the environment.

Overall, building and construction is responsible for around 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions. If no action is taken to improve energy efficiency in the building sector, energy demand is expected to rise by 50% by 2050. In order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C (as set out in the Paris Agreement), we need to achieve an estimated 77% reduction in total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the building sector by 2050, compared with today’s level.

Innovation is key

In an effort to tackle many of the environmental issues we currently face – such as high energy use, climate change, waste and pollution – there’s been an upsurge in demand for new and highly efficient techniques and a new way of working: being circular. One thing’s for sure, everyone in the industry is increasingly looking to their suppliers for innovative solutions.

As an industry leader in developing products and technologies that are helping to create more green buildings, our product innovations can play a vital role to in making cities and communities more sustainable.

A great example is Interpon D2525 ECO, the trusted powder coating technology for green building. It contains a reflective pigment which deflects infrared light (and thus the sun’s heat), from any substrate that it coats, helping to lessen the urban heat island effect. 

Its unrivalled performance and durability also help to to significantly add to a building’s lifecycle.

Another product making a big impact is our Dulux Weathershield range of exterior paints. Reformulated in 2017 and backed by years of careful research, it’s formulated with our revolutionary KeepCool technology. Which means as well as providing ultimate protection outside, it can also keep interior temperatures up to 5°C cooler. It does this by deflecting up to 85% more UV rays than other conventional exterior paints.

Staying inside, Dulux Forest Breath doesn’t just look good on interior walls, it can clean the air inside your home as well. It contains plant-based ingredients that help to effectively purify harmful air pollutants. And it’s 99.99% anti-bacterial, which helps to create a healthy home environment.

Collaboration is the way forward

One thing we do realize is that we don’t always have the answer. Because paint can’t always do everything on its own. That’s why we partner with industry leaders and startups to move forward. A recent example is our involvement in the EU’s ENVISION research consortium which aims to deliver a concept for harvesting solar energy from all surfaces of a building. A solution for absorbing near-infrared light (NIR) via special panels already exists, but these panels are only available in one color – black. So our coatings experts are developing technology which can capture heat using lighter and brighter colors.

Our work with ENVISION highlights the importance of thinking sustainably much earlier in the process where building materials are concerned. In our case, it’s about being sustainable and circular in our supply chain. 

I must admit, it is really exciting to be involved in the green building sector. The challenge is a very real one, but the demand is high and our ambition is clear. We will continue to develop products and technologies that have a positive impact. People. Planet. Paint.