This is a debate article. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.
DEBATE. It is time to reduce climate-impacting projects, use existing buildings, infrastructure and other technical solutions more efficiently and accelerate the introduction of innovations that contribute to climate change, write representatives of the architectural and engineering industry.
Time and time again, we can read in surveys that Sweden is a role model in innovation. That’s partly true. Sweden is very good at developing new solutions, but the obstacles to implementing the innovations are too many. Areas where innovations are needed are, for example, climate-optimized materials, recycling of building components, more flexible buildings and operation and maintenance – and many more. We can often see that innovations stop at an experimental stage in a lab or in a sketch because obsolete laws, rules and monopolies stand in the way. Financing is another obstacle. It is often available for the experimental stage but not for the implementation.
On 20 December, the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning will present its review of existing building regulations to the government. The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning calls the project “The building regulations of possibilities”. We place great hope on the result and want to see that sustainability and a holistic view are in focus.
With reduced detailed regulation and the opportunity to create “free zones” with room to test innovations, Sweden would create better conditions to reduce our climate impact and achieve set goals. Here, the government can play a crucial role by ensuring that the new rules become simpler, more flexible and faster so that the necessary climate change is possible. It is important, for example, to ensure that different legislations such as BBR and the Environmental Code do not conflict with each other, but also the possibility of fast tracks for deviations and opportunities for a free zone for innovations.
Rules that are designed based on the desired quality and overall societal requirements are a prerequisite for climate work. The members of the innovation companies – 750 architectural and engineering companies – have a key role in the development of society and can make a huge difference. But for us to be able to make a difference, we need the right conditions.
Achieving set targets and annual emission reductions requires clear incentives that drive more sustainable investments. Incentives are needed that accelerate the behavioral changes in society in individuals, companies, the financial market and the public sector.
We and Sweden as a country must inspire and act as a model towards other countries with an even higher climate impact. We must be given the opportunity to implement the innovations we develop, from model to action.
To make this possible, Innovationsföretagen works together with our members to:
- That a national carbon dioxide budget with annual emission reductions in absolute numbers should be established, with the possibility of breaking down by region and sector.
- That the transition to a circular economy is accelerated by changing incentives, regulations and tax systems so that they contribute to increased sharing, reuse and recycling of resources.
- That public procurement is designed so that reduced climate impact, lower life cycle costs and contributions to Agenda 2030 are rewarded.
- That Swedish climate policy takes as much account of consumption-based climate emissions as of domestic ones, in order to steer towards long-term reduced global climate impact. Consumption in Sweden should not contribute to increased emissions in other countries.
- The fact that regulations are simplified and designed on the basis of the desired quality, function and overall climate and societal requirements, provides space for holistic thinking and innovation and enables free zones to test new solutions.
- That powerful incentives are created to renovate and refine existing buildings and to reduce emissions during the production and operation of buildings and infrastructure and to increase the pace of conversion of emission-heavy operations.
The members of the innovation companies have the knowledge required for climate change. Contributing to the transformation is the everyday life of engineers and architects. An everyday life filled with knowledge, innovation, problem solving, processes and tools to drive climate work forward.
With knowledge comes responsibility. In addition to providing advice and technical solutions to our customers, we therefore also want to help highlight the obstacles we see, and together with policy help to remove them, so that we can increase the pace of climate change.
The above points are what we see needed to create the conditions required for Sweden to achieve decided climate goals. We have the eyes of future generations on us – let us now take responsibility together and move from thought to implementation.
Maria Brogren, Head of Sustainability and Innovation, WSP Sweden
Elise Grosse, Sustainability Manager Sweco Bygg & Fastigheter
Magnus Höij, Federal Director of Innovation Companies
Louise König, Head of Sustainable Business Development Ramboll Sweden