Green economy: We need to know this

Did you think communicators only know about communications? Not quite enough for us, I’m afraid. In reality, our work is continuously learning about new industries, trends, technologies, and products. And not just learning about them but really digging deep into them in order to design and deliver effective messages and valuable content for our customers and their stakeholders. A brief is just a beginning. Or actually, it is a milestone we reach when we know enough to get started.

What makes a green economy?

The environment and sustainability concern us all, not least the building and construction industries. Green Building Council Finland’s latest Green Forum discussed material and resource efficiency in the Finnish construction field. It is a global challenge, however, to understand that all economy takes its raw materials and energies from nature and what actually makes a green economy. Evaluating the rebound impact of our increasing consumption is particularly difficult. Developing the energy and material efficiency and structure of our communities is a central issue in all Low-Carbon Finland scenarios.

Finland is still a developing country regarding the recycling and re-use of construction waste. Virgin materials are too cheap here and our market too small and capital-intensive. We may be copying models already abandoned elsewhere in the world. On the other hand, we’re eager to innovate, which is a major advantage. Life-cycle assesment (LCA) is becoming more and more important. It is a topic much spoken about in the field but not all of the talk is completely true, said one of the Forum speakers. We must remember to make a difference between assessing the life-cycles of actual products and the impact of their production and use (LCI, LCIA).

Moisture-technical safety and construction chemistry

It would be good to understand that the time of juxtaposing different construction materials is over. Instead of eitherorring wood and stone, we could think whether it’s better to leave the tree standing in the woods to stock carbon or use it as a renewable resource to create a long-life-cycle product. At the same time, it is just as important to consider the mosture-technical safety and chemical consistence of building structures and products. Anything counts as toxic in large amounts, and human beings are perfect measuring devices to know what is the right level of weather proof versus fresh air. Passive house is a great invention assuming we know that it is not a good idea to wrap a person too tight in plastic foil. That would hurt.

The emissions of building materials are not yet systematically monitored in Finland. Initial studies suggest a possible connection to type 2 diabetes. Manufacturers of building products are responsible to ensure that their long-term effects are verifiable.

So, it’s not just engineers who need to learn and think about the environment in developing the world into a better place to live. Us communicators need to know, too, and that is all well and good for me. Many thanks to the organizers and speakers of the February FIGBC Green Forum. The seminar series continue monthly in Helsinki.

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