Hydro executive to chair UN building initiative


UN: As director in Hydro, Birgitte Holter is responsible for strategy, brand portfolio and global marketing for the company's aluminium building systems sector

Hydro’s Birgitte Holter has been selected to chair the United Nations Environment Program’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate change Initiative. “We want to put buildings high on the post-Kyoto negotiations agenda,” she says.

“It is still not common knowledge that the building sector responsible for 30-to-40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. The good news is that a large portion of these emissions could be reduced with available technology, at very low cost,” says Holter.

“It is important for Hydro to contribute to bringing forward such messages, since buildings represent the most important share of total aluminium consumption – and because we in Hydro already have aluminium-based, energy-saving solutions for buildings and are willing to develop more.”

The SCBI is a UN-led global platform of leaders in the field of green building, which seeks to present the common voice of the building sector on climate change issues.

Call to action

The first “commitment period” of the Kyoto Protocol expires at the end of 2012. Holter says that post-Kyoto negotiations refers to the talks aimed toward limiting greenhouse gas emissions, as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The point is that for all nations that have accepted to reduce carbon dioxide, improved energy performance of existing and new buildings must constitute a major key,” she says. “The challenge is that the economic incentives that are part of the Kyoto ‘package’ are constructed in such a manner that it is difficult for the building sector initiatives to benefit from the incentives.”

The UNFCCC’s 2009 conference will be held in December in Copenhagen, and the treaty succeeding the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be adopted there.

Prior to the Copenhagen conference, however, the UNEP SBCI will be present next month in Bonn, where three weeks of post-Kyoto negotiations is scheduled to take place.

“We intend to deliver a paper entitled Call to Action – a paper from the global building sector to all nations –  where we underline why nations have to focus more on their building sector to be able to reach their CO2 targets, and that we, the building sector actors, already have a lot of solutions available and are willing to put resources into developing and improving these,” says Holter.

The largest integrated aluminium company in Europe, Hydro is one of the preferred suppliers of aluminium building systems worldwide. Its brands – Alumafel, Domal, Technal and Wicona – cover the range of system products, from windows and doors for single-home residential solutions to the erection of façades on major structures such as new airports or high-rise buildings.

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