Climate change sets the priority goals of environmental efforts in the building sector in relation to the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions from the built environment. The operation of buildings represents 40% of the total energy consumption in Europe. The main energy benefit of using concrete in buildings is its high thermal mass that leads to thermal stability. According to the European Concrete Platform, this saves energy and produces a better indoor climate/environment for building occupants and users. Concrete is capable of buffering a large part of the free heat gains such as solar radiation and heat and can decrease energy consumption and improve thermal comfort.
According to the European Concrete Platform, the thermal mass of concrete in buildings:
- Optimises the benefits of solar gain, so reducing the need for heating fuel.
- Reduces heating energy consumption by 2 - 15%.
- Smoothes out fluctuations in internal temperature.
- Delays peak temperatures in offices and other commercial buildings until the occupants have left.
- Reduces peak temperatures and can make air-conditioning unnecessary.
- Can be used with night-time ventilation to eliminate the need for daytime cooling.
- When combined with air-conditioning, it can reduce the energy used for cooling by up to 50%.
- Can reduce the energy costs of buildings.
- Makes best use of low-temperature heat sources such as ground source heat pumps.
- The reductions in energy use for both heating and cooling cuts emissions of CO2.
- Will help future proof buildings against climate change.
European Concrete Platform considers that using concrete in buildings benefits everyone: building occupants, owners and the environment.