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Green English edition - May 2010

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The journal for all aspects of sustainable planning and construction

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How very different current expectations regarding protection of the climate are is shown by the reactions of leading politicians and climate researchers to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December 2009. They range from “important progress” to “total and utter failure”. On one point, however, many experts agree; now that a binding climate agreement has become improbable, they are pinning their greatest hopes on the demand for energy efficiency and renewable energy. In this respect the building sector is expected to continue playing a key role, given that nowhere else is the potential for savings as great and as inexpensive to achieve.


Some ideas on how this can be done are provided in the current issue of DETAIL Green. In this issue, we report on two pilot projects that cover their own energy requirements from renewable sources and on two key technologies – combined heat & power and solar thermal energy –, which are comparatively underdeveloped in many countries despite their considerable economic potential.


The challenge involved in the coordination of energy-efficiency efforts in order to arrive at an overall strategy is illustrated by the concept of the “2000 watt society” movement in Switzerland. Here, research institutes, industrial companies and pilot regions are working on reducing the energy consumption of the population over the long term to a level compatible with the climate. However, the article by Roland Stulz also shows that technology alone will not be sufficient to achieve the 2000 watt society: without the active participation of each and every individual, the goal of efficiency will recede a long way into the distance. In this context, the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk recently remarked in an interview: “We have internalised the right to ‘waste things’ and view that as the solid core of human rights. In that respect, an enormous retraining of our everyday habits will have to take place, and the most important trainers and teachers on that front will be architects.”


Sloterdijk possibly overestimates the power of contemporary architecture and its designers to bring about change. And yet, at the same time, he alludes to a realisation that is also reflected in the projects reported on in this issue of DETAIL Green: energy concepts only lead to success if they anticipate the users’ demands for comfort and convenience and their ways of behaving. And “re-learning”, as Sloterdijk calls it, is never possible on the basis of compulsion but only if the users of buildings are made fully aware of the consequences of their actions.