After leading the city of Vancouver as its longest serving Mayor, Gregor Robertson, Nexii Executive Vice President, Strategy and Partnership now focuses his work on positive solutions to the climate crisis, both with the Nexii leadership team and as Global Ambassador for the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. His vision for a greener, more inclusive Vancouver has led to record-setting years for new housing, job growth and the lowest carbon emissions per person for any major city in North America. The city now consistently ranks among the top five green and livable cities in the world.
Before serving as mayor, Gregor served in the BC Parliament, he co-founded and led Happy Planet Foods, and was an organic farmer.
By: Gregor Robertson
In my previous blog, I discussed how business and industry could drive results through innovative products and solutions to address climate pollution and protect our world for future generations.
However, one of the critical steps we need to take immediately is addressing energy efficiency in buildings.
Buildings and construction are the number one driver of the climate crisis together accounting for 39% of global climate pollution. And over half this climate pollution comes from the heating and cooling of our buildings. It’s essential we take immediate action to reduce the impact of buildings on climate. We must:
- Ensure new buildings are dramatically more energy efficient, airtight and well insulated.
- Electrify all buildings and use only renewable energy
- Retrofit existing buildings throughout the world, to maximize energy efficiency
- Deepen partnership and collaboration between public and private organizations.
To avoid further climate disasters, we must shift to net-zero carbon and energy buildings built affordably on a global scale. And it’s possible by using new building technologies and processes that lower carbon use, provide energy savings and reduce time to market.
Nexii was created to transform the building and construction industry to be far more efficient and sustainable. And we have made great strides toward this goal with our innovative high-performance buildings and green building products that are sustainable, cost-efficient, and resilient in the face of climate change.
One of the most exciting things Nexii is doing today is forging relationships with other breakthrough products and services that focus on reducing energy use, creating more efficient builds, and improving airtightness and healthy air quality for our buildings.
Our strategic alliances include, Honeywell, Trane Technologies, and Siemens just to name a few. Each of these companies is starting to work with us on ways to further improve Nexii building options for clients and continue to minimize the potential climate impacts resulting from energy use – and waste – with buildings worldwide. Stay tuned as there is much more to come for us in this exciting alliance area!
Electrify with Renewable Energy
Currently, the United States uses 17% of total world energy consumption with 40% of energy use coming from buildings. Almost 82% of emissions come from our energy use in Canada due to harsher weather and dispersed populations. These emissions will continue to increase as summers get warmer and winters colder, requiring even greater demand for cooling and heating.
Building emissions are either from fossil fuels burned to produce electricity or to heat and cool buildings directly. Generally governments and utilities are responsible for decarbonizing the electricity grid, moving away from oil, gas and coal to renewable energy. More on that later…
All buildings need to 100% powered by renewable energy as soon as humanly possible to prevent climate chaos. Which – in addition to making our electricity grids renewable – means businesses and governments working together to:
- electrify both new and existing buildings, ensuring that we no longer burn fossil fuels in furnaces, heaters, air conditioners, etc. and
- integrate renewable energy sources wherever possible with buildings.
Many excellent options are now available for clean, highly efficient electric heat pumps and hot water heaters as well as geothermal and solar energy systems. Nexii is focused on innovative partnerships to include these technologies that accelerate electrification of buildings and bring renewable energy into our building solutions.
We know we need to make major improvements to almost all existing buildings to reduce their impact on climate and environment and make them healthier to live, work and play in. There are big aspirational commitments being made by cities worldwide to retrofit buildings but unfortunately very little progress to date.
Some cities and countries are stepping up and tackling this with building retrofit requirements, setting specific directives for energy consumption related to buildings, and the need for retrofitting. There are some pilot retrofit programs and financing schemes, and the most successful effort overall to date is Energiesprong in the EU, which offers some hope that retrofitting can scale up globally. But it’s a colossal effort, and it’s moving far too slow to make a difference.
Retrofitting includes anything from changing out energy-consuming elements (e.g. older, less efficient cooling and heating systems/HVAC, electrical infrastructure, appliances) to component substitutes (new doors, windows, insulation) through to large-scale construction replacements (e.g. roof, walls, overall building envelop).
Nexii produces building envelopes that are airtight and energy efficient, and we plan to be heavily involved in retrofit support requirements across the communities we serve in coming years. But most governments have not created regulations and financing programs and incentives that catalyze large scale retrofit programs, nor are market-tested building technologies fully scaled up to meet the current ambitions and commitments. Big work to do in this crucial but lagging realm.
Business and Government Partnerships
The good news is that there is a massive global effort now focused on energy efficiency. In addition to fantastic new products and solutions from industry, and greener standards and codes from governments, we also have a real opportunity in significant partnerships.
We are seeing energy efficient products and services coming from innovative new companies around the globe. Now governments are starting to collaborate on plans, bringing together public and private groups in real ways to make significant change.
Determined cooperation and collaboration across all sectors – local, state/provincial and national governments, universities, non-profits, innovative start-up businesses and established giant corporations – creates an opportunity to achieve massive reductions in building energy use and its high costs and devastating impacts.
Nexii is part of this commitment to collaboration, and our strategic alliances span product and service innovators to non-profits and government agencies. In my next blog, I’ll specifically discuss the critical role governments play in the fight against the climate crisis.
Contact us to find out how Nexii can help your next project reduce energy use and carbon pollution.