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Sustainable Construction

The Construction Industry Needs New Technological Solutions

For more than 20 years, Christian Koch has worked with the development of the construction sector. Now he has started as head of the section Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Southern Denmark. Meet him here.

By Sebastian Wittrock, , 10/30/2023

Construction accounts for approximately 30 percent of Denmark's CO2 emissions. Almost one-third.


According to Christian Koch, the newly appointed head of section in Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Southern Denmark, the transition to a more sustainable construction industry is therefore the biggest challenge for his section in the following years.


- It is stated in the Paris Agreement that to address the climate challenge, new technical solutions are required. This also applies to the field of construction, says Christian Koch


- And when we talk about climate and construction, it's essential to consider the entire lifecycle of the built entity. That's what we do at SDU Civil and Architectural Engineering. We work with construction and infrastructure as a whole process, encompassing not only the construction process and the materials itself but also the subsequent operation, installations, roads, and the broader environmental impact of construction, including entire neighborhoods and cities.


Common Misunderstanding

Christian Koch is originally trained as an electrical engineer from DTU in 1985, but his master thesis was in occupational health and new technology, which led him to research construction, particularly management, organization, and technology in construction processes.


And he points out several areas that, according to him, will shape the future of green construction.


- There needs to be much more industrial construction because it can make it both cheaper and more sustainable. We will also see a rediscovery of materials that have been overlooked for some years. This could, for example, be the use of clay for interior walls and cellulose insulation, says Christian Koch.


- And, of course, it's very obvious that we should build more with wood, but there are still many things about larger wooden structures that we need to figure out. For example, we have a current research project on combining hollow concrete decks with load-bearing timber structures. It's a combination of materials that we don't know much about.


Finally, construction needs to shift towards more reuse, but according to the section leader, there is a common misunderstanding here.


- If you can reuse materials from old buildings, that's good, of course. But the very best thing you can do to avoid CO2 emissions is to reuse the building itself instead of tearing it down, says Christian Koch.


- In some cases, we use an enormous amount of energy to recycle, when instead we should extend the lifespan of the building. For example, in Malmö harbor, they recently demolished the terminal for hydrofoil boats. They became obsolete with the Øresund Bridge. And here, Malmö Municipality is very proud of how much they have recycled, but it was actually built with good quality, so why couldn't they find a way to repurpose the existing building for something new?


From Gothenburg to Odense

It's not entirely coincidental that Christian Koch mentions a construction project in Sweden as an example. He has been living in Sweden for many years, and before coming to the University of Southern Denmark, he was, among other things, employed at Chalmers, the technical university in Gothenburg.


- Now I have moved into an apartment in Overgade in Odense. Every weekend, I am back in Gothenburg, where my wife and my daughter, who is in the 2nd grade, still live. I also have an adult son who lives in Copenhagen, he says.


And while we're on a personal note, we can also add that Christian Koch enjoys spending time with his family, going to restaurants, and enjoying good food in his free time. And he loves music.


- I usually say that I own a saxophone, Christian Koch laughs.


- For a period of about two months, I also made a living playing music, but it didn't last long. I played my last gig in 1999 and returned to what I'm best at.

Editing was completed: 30.10.2023