Viktor Vitell's post

While the climate debate rages on about our flying, choice of car, and meat-eating, we've completely overlooked one of the simplest and most effective ways to save both energy and the climate: Our homes.
If we chose to use existing and proven technology for energy optimization for apartment buildings, annually in Sweden alone, we could save CO2 emissions equivalent to 28,000 laps around the Earth by car. Or 42 million hamburgers.
After the UN's climate meeting and the strong call to move from words to action to save the world from climate catastrophe, many of us are asking: What can I do to reverse the trend? How will we manage the major system changes required according to scientists? And what can we achieve already today?
From a global perspective, our homes, schools, and workplaces are among the worst climate offenders. According to estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA), buildings account for 41 percent of global energy consumption and 36 percent of climate-affecting emissions.
In Europe, three out of four buildings are of older types and are classified as non-energy-efficient. According to estimates, 95 percent of these buildings will still be standing by the year 2050.
In Sweden, the construction and real estate sectors account for a significant portion of society's climate impact from a life cycle perspective. The sector accounted for greenhouse gas emissions in Sweden of about 11 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, which corresponds to 18 percent of Sweden's total greenhouse gas emissions.
If Sweden is to achieve its goal of being a leading country in the global efforts to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement, the construction and real estate sector is a crucial puzzle piece.
As mentioned in an earlier discussion here, the construction process has a significant climate impact. Mainly because it requires large amounts of extremely energy-intensive building materials such as steel and cement.
This doesn't mean we have to wait until the next century for technology to make a difference. On the contrary, even old and inefficient buildings can have a new life as intelligent buildings in smart cities. This area's potential savings are significant but largely untapped so far.
In recent decades, energy optimization technology has taken huge strides. By combining simple and relatively inexpensive sensors with AI and cloud-based services, it's possible to optimize energy for entire cities quickly and with low investment costs. This is an area where Sweden is currently leading and exporting solutions to Nordic neighbors and other EU countries.
An example is Jyväskylä in Finland, where the municipal housing company decided to energy-optimize all its properties with AI. Today, the majority of all municipal residential properties in the municipality are intelligent and energy-optimized buildings in a smart city. Just the energy savings alone mean that the investment is paid off in a few years. After that, money that was previously used for unnecessary heating can be used for better purposes.
Despite the opportunities, progress is far too slow. Only half of Sweden's municipalities even have an energy plan, and few of them have invested in energy optimization. Today, much in the public sphere is about methods and rules for reporting climate impact, less about seizing existing opportunities that have an effect today.
This means we're missing a golden opportunity to make one of the perhaps single most effective contributions to the climate. Without simultaneously having to engage in a heated debate about lifestyle choices.
Recently, Kiona collaborated with Ericsson and the independent organization "Carbon Trust" to analyze the impact of Kiona's initiatives, yielding significant results.

If we were to energy-optimize all of Sweden's apartment buildings, we could save energy equivalent to Stockholm's total electricity needs for four years and carbon dioxide equivalent to 28,000 laps around the Earth in a gasoline car. Or 42 million hamburgers. And at the same time, save 2 billion Swedish kronor. Year after year.
In addition to saving energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, we're creating a smarter infrastructure better equipped to handle bottlenecks in existing systems.
Many years ago, Sweden took a decisive step towards a more climate-friendly and sustainable heating of the spaces where we spend an estimated 80% of our lives. Back then, oil was gradually replaced with renewable energy sources for heating.
Now it's time for the next step. The technology is developed, energy optimization solutions are cost-effective and can be implemented quickly. If we use these opportunities, we can honestly tell our children that we've actually already taken a small but important step towards a more sustainable development today.
  • Jane Wangui

    3 w

    In as much as the initial capital to go green is high no time it becomes economic as the cost later will surely decrease compared to fossil fuels.

    • Princess

      3 w

      It's time we prioritize making our homes more energy-efficient for the sake of both the environment and our wallets.

      • Rashid Kamau

        3 w

        @princess_nel_268 Sure,saving energy in our homes brings vast benefits.

      • Markus Lutteman

        3 w

        Thanks for a great read, @viktor_vitell. I love the example from Jyveskylä, which shows that energy efficiency is not a costly burden, but an investment that pays off in just a few years. This means there are only winners if we get serious and start scaling this great and under-discussed climate solution. Politicians, what are you waiting for?

        • Munene Mugambi

          3 w

          Traditional homes are energy inefficient and moving from these to smart buildings is the first way we manage our energy uses and reduce our emissions drastically. We can do this and also, ensure all new buildings are energy efficient and smart in terms of emission control.

          • Viktor Vitell

            3 w

            This was originally an argumentative text published in Swedish media. It was 4-5 years ago, and even though some progress has been made in Europe, it's still happening far too slowly. We had the privilege to present together with Ericsson, Carbon Trust, and We Don't Have Time. Republishing it here for those who are interested.

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