The construction sector and the regulations that are defined -in the short and medium term- could seek significant impacts for thermal insulation in homes and mitigate global warming.
By Juan Pablo Porras
Santiago de Chile.- Winter pollution in the Metropolitan Region is 70% caused by the use of firewood as fuel for heating. In areas such as Biobío and Araucanía, prior to some mitigations at the public policy level, this figure rose to over 90%.
During this period, the cities of central-south Chile are characterized by a thick fog, almost of cinematographic proportions, which is nothing more than particles from systems that use wood to generate heat. With a population accustomed to its presence, the impact at the level of pollution and human health is gigantic.
Although progress has been made in actions to replace the use of polluting elements in various types of heaters (for example, promoting the replacement of wood stoves), efforts at the construction regulation level have perhaps been less noticeable. Probably, strengthening regulations in this second area of action would have a considerable effect on improving air quality, as much or more than having new air conditioning technologies; all this, without generating greenhouse gases and with a zero carbon footprint, which we could call “preventive”.
In the complex climatic context that we live in and will live in the coming decades, this is essential. It is estimated that we will witness extreme temperature events more and more frequently, both in summer and winter, as a result of the impacts of global warming.
The current thermal insulation regulation dates back to 2007, a time when the urgency to promote more environmentally friendly systems was less. Today Chile is an international benchmark in efforts to transition its energy matrix; It promoted a climate change law that will have goals for each sector to reduce its carbon footprint to a minimum and even hosted a world event to align countries in efforts to mitigate global warming.
In this spirit, the construction sector and the regulations that are defined -in the short and medium term- could seek similar impacts. In addition to this, the industry can complement these efforts by speeding up the incorporation of developments that better respond to current needs.
An example of this is the EIFS insulation system, created more than 60 years ago, but still in force on the market. It is an international layered insulation mechanism that significantly improves the energy efficiency of a house. In the current Chilean regulation, EIFS solutions can reduce energy consumption to air-condition a home by 40%. Our country is the first in Latin America to incorporate it; and our company has installed more than 3 million square meters throughout Chile in recent years, contributing not only to insulation, but also to the sustainability of homes.
In short, Chilean construction still has a lot to do in terms of thermal insulation of homes. The technology exists, it only remains to amplify its use.
Juan Pablo Porras is head of EIFS solutions at Weber Saint-Gobain