The new collaboration will make it easier for the construction industry to set climate requirements

The construction accounts for a large part of the real estate industry's climate impact. In the project Climate Requirements at a reasonable cost, Sweden's Allmännytta, formerly SABO, the credit institution Kommuninvest and IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet work together with the goal of developing an industry standard for calculating climate impact and being able to set climate requirements for new production. The project also wants to become the standard for integrating life-cycle-based climate requirements into the financing.

Last week, the construction industry gathered for the start conference in a unique collaboration project aimed at reducing the climate impact of the construction industry. In addition to the Swedish Public Utility, Kommuninvest and IVL, the project in question also includes housing companies and contractors, which makes the work well established in the industry.

Nine housing companies and contractors in different cities have been appointed test pilots [1] . They must prepare climate declarations of actual buildings, in order to be able to make proposals on requirements that are reasonable to place on the market.

- Being able to set climate requirements for construction is an important step in the development of fossil-free construction industry. This project and the pilots' work will give us guidance on how we can set those requirements in a good way, says Anders Ejlertsson, project manager at the IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.

Svante Axelsson, the national coordinator for Fossil-free Sweden, noted that the pilots can become the core of the green industry's green transition.

- Developing reasonable ambitions that can affect both upcoming legislation and public procurement can create enormous pressure for change. The construction sector can be as good a part of the Swedish fossil-free story as the first fossil-free steel in Luleå or the world's best battery factory in Skellefteå.

In previous studies, IVL has shown that the climate impact of building a modern apartment building is as great as the house's operating energy for 50 years. Therefore, it is now important to calculate the climatic impact of construction products, in addition to a reasonable effort and sufficient quality so that they can be placed in procurement.

- An industry standard with rules is needed to produce climate declarations for buildings. Based on such an industry-standard, different stringent requirements can then be set depending on construction projects, while at the same time ensuring that everyone in the industry counts in an equal way, says Helena Ulfsparre at Familjebostäder, which is one of the first in Sweden to set climate requirements in procurement on a broad front.

The test pilots will use the industry-wide tool - the Construction Sector Environmental Assessment Tool, BM - that IVL has developed and which enables a non-expert to produce a climate declaration for a building. The tool can be used as support for setting climate requirements in procurement, and for making climate improvements in terms of material selection and production methods. Earlier this year, the tool was simplified so that it became possible to digitally transfer amounts from cost calculations from construction processes to the environmental calculation tool, which saves both time and money.

Another goal of the project is to develop life-cycle-based climate requirements for financing as well. Kommuninvest, which, through so-called Green loans, finances many energy-efficient housing projects in the public interest, wants to develop the requirements to take into account both energy performance in operation and climate effects from the construction process.

- It is important to stimulate the green change already on the drawing board. Today, we offer more favourable financing for houses that meet demands for good energy performance, and it is a natural step to extend the requirements to include the construction process, where such a large part of the climate impact occurs, says Björn Bergstrand, sustainability manager at Kommuninvest.

About Kommuninvest's Green loans and green bonds

Under its framework for green bonds, Kommuninvest finances Swedish municipal investment projects in eight areas, including renewable energy, green buildings, public transport and water management. On June 30, 2019, Kommuninvest's portfolio of Green loans totalled 284 projects in 124 municipalities and regions. A total of SEK 52.4 billion had been granted, of which SEK 35.5 billion had been disbursed.

To finance the Green loans, Kommuninvest issues green bonds. Kommuninvest has approximately SEK 27.5 billion outstanding in five green bonds, making Kommuninvest the largest issuer of green bonds in Sweden.

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