Ready for the Green Transition?

Marianne Gulløv Bæredygtig projektledelse

If not – maybe it’s time to take a look at our neighbors in Sweden? They have been working with the green transition and strict demands in the construction industry for years. We have asked Lisa Elfström, CEO of SundaHus, about the green transition in the construction industry and what she thinks is needed to increase the speed of it.

The increasing focus on climate changes are reflecting in the construction industry. So is the focus and need for new tools to handle sustainability and circular economy. The implementation of the rest of the technical screening criteria in the EU Taxonomy by January 2023, will force companies who are not prepared for circular economy to get started with the green transition asap, if they want to stay in the game.

In Denmark we are still waiting for the material passport or other ways of easily working with and measuring the content and origin of the product in the construction industry.

We are far from ready for the new EU 2023 demands, whereas Sweden has been working with market driven stricter requirements for years. The platform SundaHus Material Data has been used in thousands of projects in Sweden as a tool for building owners to make conscious material choices according to their own ambitions and goals. The platform helps building owners/developers and all actors in the building process to avoid hazardous substances and keep track of construction products, including their chemical content, in buildings over time.

CEO at SundaHus, Lisa Elfström, has a great knowledge of the topic. Let’s hear, what she has to say about it.

From your experience, what are the most important obstacles that stands in the way from succeeding with the green transition?

There are many projects with great solutions that have shown that a transition is possible, but instead we tend to focus too much on the problems. Also, we tend to look for ‘one solution to solve it all’, which I think makes it even more complex. For the transition to happen, I think digitalization is one important key but in order for that to happen, we need data that is today often missing. In the end we also need the right people: people with a certain amount of power and guts who really are willing to set high requirements for their projects. For SundaHus, that type of people has been a key to success.

How can digitalization contribute to a more circular construction sector?

I think digitalization is the only way moving forward if we really want to make a difference on a larger scale. A transition means new types of business models, processes and demands, which will lead to new types of questions. If we want answers to those questions in an efficient and scalable way, digitalization is a required enabler.

SundaHus is a good example of this. Compliance with all the different environmental and documentation requirements in ambitious construction projects is rather complex and time consuming. When we made this as easy as a click on a button, it really started to scale in Sweden. And the same thing is needed to make circularity the new normal.

How do the services of SundaHus fit into the green transition and a circular economy?

Due to their material intensity, buildings are increasingly seen as potential urban mines. However, reusing and refurbishing used construction materials is challenging and most materials end up downcycled or wasted altogether. One issue hindering the potential for recycling is a lack of information about contents in construction products and later also in buildings, preventing circular use of the materials.

SundaHus helps actors in the construction sector choose materials without unwanted substances, keep track of all substances and ultimately re-use or recycle products and materials in the future. With the system including data about buildings, construction products and the chemical content of the products, we are building the foundation for the future of circular construction.

How long has SundaHus been working with green transition?

SundaHus was founded in 1990 as a consulting company for the improvement of indoor environmental quality. In 2003 we introduced the first version of our system SundaHus Material Data which more or less has been our main focus and service since then. During these years, we have mainly been operating in Sweden but are now scaling up and are establishing partnerships in Denmark. We want to continue moving forward with developing the company and our services to contribute to a more circular, non-toxic and long-term valuable built environment worldwide.

For the green transition to move forward, it is a must that we start working more circular, as Lisa Elfström states in this interview.

At Frame we couldn’t agree more and look forward to welcoming SundaHus and other initiatives to Denmark that support the circular economy and provide tools enabling and speeding up the green transition in our industry.

At the end of the day, it is a necessity for all to get ready for a green transition.

For more information about SundaHus, and for more information on Lisa Elfström, check out her LinkedIn profile here.