Local buildings are still considered inefficient in terms of energy use. The Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning talks about how commercial and businesses buildings can help safeguard the environment with the right choices during and after construction.

We have been hearing a lot about the EU Green Deal: An action plan put forward by the European Union, to improve resource efficiency in member states, among others, to fight the negative effects of climate change. This plan identifies methods to make the transition to a cleaner and more sustainable economy, whilst ensuring it is still prosperous and profitable. 

The European Green Deal Strategy includes a holistic approach to how the economy can make use of green investments, in particular those that ensure an inclusive transition, plans to safeguard biodiversity, and plans to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050 – A target which has to be reached by all EU member states collectively. This means that by 2050 we must ensure that carbon dioxide emissions are eliminated, or at least, that the rate of absorption of emissions is reduced compared to that of their release into the atmosphere.

The EU identifies the modernisation of the current building stock as a priority pillar to reduce emissions and implement the European Green Deal strategy. Although the average energy consumption of buildings in Malta is quite low compared to other European countries, local buildings are still considered to be inefficient in terms of energy use. This translates into increased costs onto consumers, especially for local businesses. Having said this, there are several measures that one may take into consideration to make a building more sustainable and reduce its operational costs whilst, at the same time, promoting the alignment towards the reduction in emissions. This is predominately key when applied to buildings hosting business or commercial activity. 

Making buildings energy efficient 

Looking at energy consumption aspects, property owners and indirectly tenants of buildings may specifically benefit from the implementation of a good number of tangible measures. For example, businesses can be more energy efficient by installing an array of insulation building fabric components as part of the ‘mix and match’ options going forward. 

One can also consider the installation of appropriate ground membrane beneath floor tiles, to stop rising dampness that increases humidity levels and cold in winter. Effectively, such basic building component enhancements would reduce the need of heavy reliance on air heating equipment.

Consideration may also be given to the installation of dimmers and intelligent lighting systems, where light can be dimmed or switched on automatically when needed. Any light installations ideally consist of LEDs. These consume much less energy when compared to conventional light bulbs and tubes. A building, especially those of a business and commercial use, can also benefit from the installation of smart type energy management systems including centralised building services systems all of which make it much more efficient in terms of use and consumption when compared to the installation of multiple individual isolated systems in a single building. 

Opting for renewable energy 

Property owners should consider installing renewable energy sources such as high-quality solar PV systems with specific attention to the latest technologies, especially when it comes to energy efficiency characteristics, all of which add benefits in the form of the investment in the most advantageous way possible. The efficiency of solar panels also depends on the strength of the sun’s rays and heat. Green infrastructure like green roofs and green walls can reduce the severity of heat, improving panel efficiency, especially in the hot summer months, as too much heat can damage solar panels or reduce their effectiveness in generating energy. Installing double-glazed windows or UV coated window glass can also reduce energy consumption. These reduce the sun’s rays intensity and the amount of heat that manages to get inside the building. 

Installing water saving technologies can also help. Malta is amongst the top 10 countries globally that suffer from water scarcity. Therefore, it would be beneficial to invest in rainwater storage equipment, or to recycle used water (grey water), to be used again in business processes. Other water-saving systems include double flush systems and sink tap devices, to dissipate less water.

Sustainable waste-free products 

Old electronic devices that consume a lot of energy should be replaced with modern ones that consume less energy. The purchase of sustainable and waste-free products should become the norm in the purchasing processes of industry and businesses, as should the use of technologies with integrated circular economy concepts and Smart Technology, which through digitization and connectivity can greatly reduce resource wastage. In fact, energy consumption in the business sector is also linked to the product and service sold to the consumer and the way that this is done.

If a property owner, especially that of a business nature, takes a look at all these aspects holistically, they would be taking a step forward not only towards the reduction of operational costs, but are effectively reducing the impact on the environment and improve the well-being of the employee, worker or equivalent occupier/user of the building. In addition, promoting one’s property and or business with a focus on sustainability could help improve our building stock, our reputation and customer relationship in case of businesses. 

More information can be found on the social media pages of Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ClimateOnMalta and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/climateonmalta/ of the #ClimateOn Campaign which was launched earlier this year by the Ministry for the Environment, Climate Change and Planning. 

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