Bridging gaps: pioneering sustainable innovation in the construction sector

In a world full of complex challenges, environmental sustainability needs to align with economic viability. Thus, EU-funded project SNUG will demonstrate both the superior performance of its insulation solutions and of its AI-based software tool for selecting the most efficient material combination. As a consequence, performance indicators will not only measure technical features but also link Life Cycle Analyses and cost assessment. In close cooperation with our SNUG partners from industry and research, BRIMATECH Research works at the interface of socio-economics and sustainable innovation. Hence, our mission in the project is clear: we analyse the favourability of new technologies and processes in different economic scenarios; we discuss with manufacturers about value chain alternatives and logistics; and we search for business models that are both circular and economically viable.

The building sector, which in 2022 was accountable for 34% of global energy use and 37% of CO₂ emissions [1], is one of the focus areas in the European Commission’s effort to combat climate change. This is precisely where SNUG comes into play. By developing sustainable-by-design insulation materials and introducing a Digital Tool Assistant (DTA), SNUG is not just a project, but marks a decisive shift in the building sector, towards a future where every new building and every renovation project is judged by its contribution to climate neutrality. Yet, what makes SNUG particularly exciting is not just its environmental promise, but also its economic rationale.

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At BRIMATECH, we have set out for this holistic view on the impact of innovations. Bridging gaps is our vision, gaps between markets and technology, between economy and sustainability. This is why in SNUG, we put Life Cycle Assessment categories in relation to economic indicators. Secondly, we assess their relevance for businesses and stakeholders. We underscore the economic benefits, showing for example, how functional business models can benefit both manufacturers and customers. This approach helps our partners and their clients take informed, strategic decisions that align with both their economic interests and sustainability goals.

et us take the innovative insulation materials being developed in SNUG as an example. They are designed not only to minimise embodied energy and emissions but also to reduce costs associated with heating and cooling. This directly translates to lower utility bills, a clear economic benefit to consumers that also encourages broader adoption. Moreover, the SNUG DTA is set to redefine how building renovations are planned and executed. By leveraging digitalisation, the DTA provides precise, tailored guidance that reduces waste and inefficiency and promotes regionality. The DTA tool is an excellent example of how digital and human-centric approaches – a combination we are passionate about – can converge to create superior sustainable solutions.

In conclusion, as we navigate these complex times, projects like SNUG are not just about technologies for building or renovating structures. They are laying the foundation for a more sustainable economy. The team at BRIMATECH is committed to this journey, and happy to follow this path in close cooperation with our partners.

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Living next to Vienna in a century-old house and as a mother of two, I face the daily challenge of blending the old with the new, and of balancing nature with technology. In addition to my professional passion for sustainability, which stems from various projects, this personal intersection also increases my commitment to promoting sustainable innovation. My home, like many others, stands to benefit significantly from advancements like those proposed in SNUG, showing that the future of sustainability is not just in the new buildings we construct but also in the old ones we thoughtfully preserve and improve.

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[1] United Nations Environment Programme, & Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (2024). Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction – Beyond foundations: Mainstreaming sustainable solutions to cut emissions from the buildings sector. https://wedocs.unep.org/20.500.11822/45095.

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