Gianni Silvestrini (Green Building)

on .

INTERVIEW WITH Gianni Silvestrini (Green Building
(Chairman of Green Building Council Italia)

Premise

Climate Change, crisis of resources and the development of a circular sustainable economy. These are some of the most impending and important challenges of the world. In facing them, we must not confine ourselves to the debate on energy (renewables vs fossils). We must take into account an extremely important element: the role of the building sector. Currently, this sector makes up almost half of European energy consumption and is responsible for 1/3 of the waste and 40% of greenhouse gas emissions of the continent. According to The Europian Union vision, starting from 2021 all new buildings must be energy-efficient (with "almost zero" consumption of energy) and by 30 April 2017 each Member State shall submit to Europe its strategy for building requalification, fossil fuels reductions and CO2 emissions cutting.  In order to really create smart cities, a circular and sustainable economic system, we must first face the challenge of sustainable construction; and this is what is doing (with success) the Green Building Council, by promoting culture, information and certification systems (e.g., LEED and GBC) on the topic. But what does  sustainable building mean? What are its main challenges? What is LEED certification? Gianni Silvestrini, chairman of Green Building Council Italy, answered to these and other questions. 

 

GBC Italy: Green Building Council Italy (GBC-Italy) is a non-profit organization whose members are the most competitive and the most qualified Italian professional associations and communities operating in the green building segment. GBC Italy is part of the international network of GBC localized in more than 90 countries and is a member of the World GBC. GBC-Italy promotes a transformation of the building market through the promotion of the LEED certification system and of its own certification systems specifically targeted to the characteristics of the Italian market.

Gianni Silvestrini is the chairman of Green Building Council Italy and Scientific Director of the Kyoto Club and the magazine QualEnergia. He is also the chairman of FREE coordination which groups 28 associations dealing with Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. Since 1977 He has held research on bioclimatic building,  efficiency policy and renewables at the CNR. Mr. Silvestrini has also Coordinated (for over ten years) the master "Ridef" (Renewable Energies, Decentralization, Energy Efficiency), promoted by the Politecnico di Milano. He was Director General in the Ministry of environment and adviser of the Minister of Economic Development on the theme of efficiency and renewable sources. He is also the chairman of Exalto, a company engaged in strategic energy consulting services, smart cities research, and in low-energy-consumption buildings..
 
 
 
For further details, please visit the following web-site
 
 
INTERVIEW - (March 2017)

 

This interview was made and published  on  www.lteconomy.it in March 2017

Subject: Green building - trends, national and international challenges; the role of GBC Italy. 

 
 

Highlights 

  • Both Climate Change and the search for a more circular economy require a profound transformation in the building sector, a road towards sustainability.
  • Currently, the building sector absorbs almost half of the European energy and raw-materials consumption. Moreover, it makes up 1/3 of waste and 40% of greenhouse gas emissions of our continent.
  • With the certification standards (LEED and GBC) the building is treated holistically: several aspects are taken into account, not just energy efficiency, but also the construction site, the materials used in buildings, water management, waste management, comfort and indoor spaces. 

  • Sustainable building concerns both new constructions and renovation of existing buildings. Of course it can concern either new constructions or renovation, depending on the characteristic of the specific country/geographical area. But the most interesting thing is that Green (Sustainable) Building is growing more and more around the world!

  • The market of green buildings is witnessing a fast growth in many countries. Globally, it is having an exponential growth, doubling year on year. The result? By 2018 in the United States, the sector will generate more than 3.3 million jobs and more than 190 billion wage gains (source: USGBC).  

  • LEED Certifications are a very useful tool. But we also provide other important services: training services, events, seminars and workshops throughout the country. We also take part in some of the most important exhibitions in Italy (SAIE, MADE, KeyEnergy/Ecomondo).
  • The United States (despite Trump’s anti-green policies) is the most advanced country in terms of sustainable building. The LEED certification system, we have talked through in the interview, has been developed in the USA. And (bear in mind that) we are talking of the most widespread system of certification in the world.
  • As for the realization of eco-sustainable districts, GBC-Italy has developed a specific protocol.
 
 
 
Question 1: Welcome Dr. Gianni Silvestrini. You are the chairman of Green Building Council Italy (GBC–Italy), the no-profit organization which promotes the development of green and sustainable building. Can you tell us exactly what the term sustainable building means? What are the main national and international challenges?  
 
Well, both Climate Change and the search for a circular economy require a profound transformation in the building sector, a road towards sustainability. This means making buildings without wasting materials, buildings which are energy- and water efficient and improve the quality of life of the users.
Why a change is required?
Currently, the building sector absorbs almost half of the European energy and raw-materials consumption. Moreover, it makes up 1/3 of waste and 40% of greenhouse gas emissions of our continent. That is why Europe has set challenging goals. Starting from 2021 all new buildings must be energy-efficient efficient (with "almost zero" consumption of energy) and by 30 April 2017 each Member State shall submit to Europe its strategy for building requalification, fossil fuels reductions and CO2 emissions cutting.  In Italy most part of the work will concern revisiting existing buildings, also through operations of  demolition, reconstruction and densification.
 
 
Question 2: Obviously, the process of "green building" does not concern only construction companies. What are the other actors (manufacturers of building materials, public companies etc ...) involved in this process?
 
This is a very important matter! And GBC-Italy is making great efforts in that perspective. We have established  good relationship with all the players involved in the sector of building: among GBC’s members, there are some of the main actors in the supply chain of the construction sector. We have manufacturers of materials, design firms, associations, universities, public institutions, Real Estate companies.
 
The certification standards (LEED and GBC) we promote are based on clear benchmarks and metrics to be applied to all market participants. From the design phase to the building and the maintenance ones, all the actors are involved; they give their own contribute to get the credits needed for a certain level of certification. The building is treated holistically: several aspects are taken into account, not just energy efficiency, but also the construction site, the materials used in buildings, water management, waste management, comfort and indoor spaces.
 
 
Question 3: There are two main fields in the construction sector: 1) the construction of new buildings, 2) the renovation of existing building. Which of these two is more engaged with sustainable buildings?
 
Sustainable building is an issue which concerns both new constructions and renovation of existing buildings. Which of these 2 fields is more important depends on the characteristic of the specific country/geographical area.  In Europe, for example, countries point to the deep renovation of existing buildings, but in other territories, such as China, there is a strong expansion of new (green) buildings. However, the most interesting thing is that Green (Sustainable) Building is growing more and more around the world!
 
 
Question 4: GBC-Italy was established on January 8, 2008 (shortly before the outbreak of the international economic crisis). Since then, has the demand for green buildings in Italy increased?
 
The market of green buildings is witnessing a fast growth in many countries. Globally, it is having an exponential growth, doubling year on year. The result? By 2018 in the United States, the sector will generate more than 3.3 million jobs and more than 190 billion wage gains (source: USGBC).
What about Italy? The number of green building projects is strongly growing too. In 2008 building projects with a LEED certification were only 48; in 2016 they increased to 441. Sustainable building has also created new professions such as LEED AP (Accredited Professional LEED) and LEED GA (LEED Green Associate). To be sure, they are not certifiers; they are professionals, skilled experts who advice companies which want to undertake green building projects. It’s amazing to note that in 2008 such experts were just 10; now they are 200!
 
 
Question 5: As you said, GBC-Italy does promote a certification system named LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Can you tell us more about it? In particular, what kind of benefits does it bring to building companies?
 
First of all let me be clear on the subject. LEED is a “voluntary” certification system of the “building;” So it does not certify the company. Getting a LEED certification offers tangible benefits in terms of both the final quality of the product, and of the savings in operating costs. The certification process must be activated in the planning stage of the building. The certification provides a shared approach for each subject covered: energy efficiency, the construction site, water management, materials and resources, waste management, comfort and indoor spaces, regional priorities and particular innovations in the design.
 
The benefits?
 
For building companies, LEED is the equivalent of practices that are the rule in other sectors (e.g, label stating in the mineral water sector). For buildings does not yet exist labeling systems that declare: how much energy they consume, what’s the quality of life in the building, what are the materials used, what are the acoustic, thermal and visual comfort like. LEED describes all the performances of the building; it is one of the most robust and structured certification systems on the market, because it contemplates a multiplicity of control mechanisms. There is an internal system of control (the commissioning) and, also very important, there is a third independent part, the GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc), which provides the external validation.
 
 
Question 6: In addition to certification services, what other services does GBC Italy offers?
 
GBC Italy promotes the practices of sustainable building. LEED Certifications are a very useful tool. But we also provide other important services: training services, events, seminars and workshops throughout the country. We also take part in some of the most important exhibitions in Italy (SAIE, MADE, KeyEnergy/Ecomondo).
In 2016 we organized a tour of conferences focusing on new opportunities offered by the Government's directives on building renovation (CAM, Thermal Statement – Conto Termico, Kyoto Fund): we have been in Milan, Bologna, Padua, Genoa, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Riva del Garda. We have also made a lot of other training sessions throughout Italy to satisfy the requests of information by ever more companies in the building sector.
 
Moreover, in 2016, GBC-Italy has organized and sponsored several conferences on sustainability and Circular Economy, the certification systems LEED-GBC and the best existing practices in Italy and around the world.
 
 
Question 7: in the course of 2016, GBC-Italy has held a series of conferences on the “New Thermal Statement” (Nuovo Conto Termico). Can you tell us what is it?
 
The “New Thermal Statement” is a very important tool in renovating buildings and improving their energy performances. This tool allows us to reduce costs of consumption and so to recuperate the investment costs in a short period.  The beneficiaries of this measure are public administrations (PA), companies, and individuals who can access to funds for a total of 900 million euro per year, of which 200 are for the PA. The incentives are ruled by private contracts between the Energy Services Operator (GSE) and the other part involved. Incentives are paid by the GSE in the form of steady annual payments in a period of 2-5 years, length depending on the type of intervention and its size.
 
 
Question 8: Which Countries and which Italian cities/regions are more sensitive to the issue of sustainable building?
 
The United States (despite Trump’s anti-green policies) is the most advanced country in terms of sustainable building. The LEED certification system, we have talked through in the interview, has been developed in the USA. And (bear in mind that) we are talking of the most widespread system of certification in the world: over 79,000 projects in more than 160 countries worldwide and nearly 2 million square meters are certified every day. The green building sector contributes for more than $134 billion in the income of American workers.
 
In Italy, LEED projects are not fairly distributed. They are mostly used in areas where public authorities have sustainable-driven strategy. In these places policies and incentives promoting the rating LEED system have been adopted. We are talking of Trentino Alto Adige and of international cities like Milan and Rome.
 
 
Question 9: Taking into account the current situation in Italy, can we build  “zero-environmental impacting” urban environments?
 
In light of the international climate change objectives, we are going to witness a radical change in Italy’s building sector. This is why, GBC-Italy has been very active in recent years in order to positively shape the national debate. Our role? Making the system (people, companies and institutions) aware of the need for a deep renovation of buildings, in order to reduce energy consumption. We have pushed towards laws and incentives which support the whole system to achieve those climate change targets.  Work on buildings is closely connected with urban regeneration.
 
So ambitious objectives can be achieved through innovative solutions both on the demand and the supply side. On the demand side, GBC Italy has worked with ENEA to provide a new funding mechanism aimed at improving energy efficiency of entire buildings: a special fund that guarantees large part of the necessary capital. On the supply side, changes are needed to reduce costs. The digital revolution will bring the industrialization of processes making easier the renovation of buildings. Buildings will be increasingly connected, domestic consumption optimized, and the dialogue with the national grid improved.
 
Mobility is another field which is going to undertake radical changes. Electric vehicles and shared form of transportation will become ever more diffused.
 
It’s important to accompany this change with adequate systems of control; we are talking of external and independent environmental and energy rating systems. As for the realization of eco-sustainable districts, GBC-Italy has developed a specific protocol, which, together with the international ones, will be an ever more effective aid, as well as a certification of quality.  
 
 
 
 
 

Become a Long Term Economy Supporter!!

Long Term Economy is a non profit organization aiming at improving the wellbeing in a long-term perspective by preserving the natural, cultural and social capital. 

Become a Long Term Economy supporter: make your donation or give your contribution