"Building under changing conditions" was the focus of the 6th Swiss Building Forum on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at the Suurstoffi in Rotkreuz. 100 construction and real estate experts exchanged views on the most pressing issues for construction in times of climate change.
Climate change is changing the conditions under which buildings are constructed; sustainability is in demand in all areas and dimensions. This brings new topics to the fore for planners, real estate experts and architects: compact construction with sustainable materials, moving away from fossil fuels, greening roofs, façades and areas to reduce heat or retaining rainwater (keyword "sponge city"), to name just a few. "We need to rethink!", demanded architect Katrin Pfäffli from preisig:pfäffli. Speakers and participants at the 6th Swiss Building Forum agreed on this.
Katrin Pfäffli presented the three main ways to get closer to net zero in construction: building less, building right and keeping what has already been built in the cycle for as long as possible. To this end, she advocated innovation in building materials and the preservation of existing buildings and the reuse of building components. Laura Germann, environmental engineer at Amstein + Walthert, outlined the effects of climate change that need to be taken into account when building today. Climate-friendly construction means thinking about blue-green infrastructures (green: trees, green spaces; blue: water areas) together and planning for them from the outset.
The plenary session agreed that voluntary standards can pave the way for sustainable construction by providing a testing ground for possible amendments to legislation and showing which measures prove successful and which do not. Andreas Meyer Primavesi, Managing Director of Minergie, presented the newly revised Minergie and SNBS standards and drew a positive initial conclusion. The new label family was also well received at the construction forum.
A lot is in flux when it comes to regulations
Sybille Schnyder and Stefan Gerster, specialist lawyers for construction and real estate law at CMS von Erlach Partners AG, referred to future legal risks such as climate lawsuits by environmental associations against companies, the loss in value of real estate due to the possible introduction of building certificates or the increased effort required for compliance. Robert Weinert, Head of Immo-Monitoring at Wüest Partner AG, pointed out that stricter regulations also account for around a third of the current decline in new construction activity. Higher interest rates and the economic situation with increased construction prices, decreasing purchasing power and the shortage of skilled workers are responsible for a further third.
Sustainability means juggling many balls at the same time
Another key topic was social sustainability, which is often at odds with ecological and economic issues. This was examined from the perspective of real estate development, a cooperative and urban planning. The speakers agreed that finding a balance between the various aspects of sustainability is challenging, and Anne-Kathrin Widmer from Intep - Integrale Planung GmbH pointed out that, unlike in the EU, for example, there are still hardly any regulations on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) in Switzerland. However, while large companies are already preparing corresponding reports, SMEs, as part of the supply chains of larger companies, are also having to deal with this more and more. Martin Buob, an independent strategy and organizational developer in the real estate sector, also spoke about the various pillars of sustainability. He spoke about the transformation of the real estate portfolio against the backdrop of social, ecological and economic aspects and pointed out that compliance in particular sometimes stands in the way of sustainability. Many different requirements and high legal standards also pose challenges for densification projects. Harald Klein, urban planner for the city of Zug, spoke about the need to simplify and speed up processes in order to keep inner-city development attractive and avoid turning away from it.
The great interest in the event and the lively discussions show that the topic of sustainability in construction in all its facets is on the minds of many stakeholders. There are still numerous challenges to overcome, but new solutions and interesting ideas are pointing in the right direction and are encouraging.The Swiss Construction Forum is organized by the Institute of Building Technology and Energy (IGE) and the Institute of Financial Services Zug (IFZ) at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in collaboration with the Swiss Sustainable Building Network (NNBS). This year, around 100 construction and real estate experts attended the event. The 7th Swiss Construction Forum will take place on November 13, 2024.
Impressions, the presentations of the speakers and the posters of the exhibition can be found at. Photographer: Daniel Dyntar Photography.
About the Swiss Sustainable Building Network NNBS
The aim of the NNBS is to promote sustainable building in Switzerland. With over 180 members from business, the public sector, research and education, it has a broad base. This enables it to join forces and create a common understanding. By providing useful tools and ensuring the necessary framework conditions, it promotes implementation in practice.