Energy Efficient Buildings

In brief

The EU puts a significant emphasis on improving energy efficiency in buildings. According to the Energy performance of buildings directive, EU countries must establish strong long-term renovation strategies, aiming at decarbonising the national building stocks by 2050, with indicative milestones for 2030, 2040 and 2050. all new buildings must be nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEB) from 31 December 2020.

Our view

Using concrete in buildings contributes to energy efficiency thanks to its high thermal mass. When it is warm, concrete elements absorb excess heat, slowing the rise in temperature in indoor rooms. When temperatures fall in the evening, the concrete releases this heat, keeping indoor rooms at a comfortable temperature. This leads to energy savings and produces a better indoor climate for building occupants. CEMBUREAU is pleased to note the importance attributed to indoor environments, and thus the health and wellbeing of occupants, as this must go hand in hand with environmental objectives.

CEMBUREAU fully supports the recognition of the contribution of structural building materials with a high thermal mass when calculating the energy performance of a building. As indicated in a study by 3E, commissioned by the Concrete Initiative, thermal mass in heavyweight buildings can provide the flexibility to store energy and respond to the needs of the electricity grid by allowing for consumer energy demand to be shifted in time (“active demand response”) by using structural thermal energy storage. This could result in up to a 25% CO2 reduction per dwelling, up to 50% reduction in the need for peak electricity supply capacity and savings of up to €300 per household per year. Thermal mass can also contribute to greater uptake of renewable energy in buildings. Furthermore, thanks to their air-tightness and durability, the energy consumption of concrete buildings is greatly reduced over their whole life.

Structural Thermal Energy Storage
The view of cement sector
Concrete, thermal mass, and avoiding overheating in buildings