'Sustainability is closely linked to innovation'

'Sustainability is closely linked to innovation'

Being able to change and do things in completely new ways requires questioning current methods and having the courage and space to try other ways. So says Elise Lindahl, new to the role of sustainability manager at FOJAB.

You have previously been responsible for FOJABlab and are now taking on a new role, as Head of Sustainability at FOJAB. What does this mean for your new assignment?

- Sustainability is so broad and big and many things - perhaps the most worn-out concept we use today. It is also the most important thing we have to work with and something that must permeate our entire business. It is widely known that the construction industry as it has been in recent decades is far from circular. But what the concept of sustainability means, how we should work with it and what will have the greatest impact is constantly evolving. Therefore, for me, sustainability is closely linked to innovation. Being able to change and do things in completely new ways requires questioning current methods and having the courage and space to try other ways.

What are FOJAB's strengths in terms of sustainability?

- The people! There are many dedicated and skilled employees working on sustainability at a qualified level, which we can promote more.

- There is also great potential in the collaborations and research projects we are involved in. For example, we are developing a method together with IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute to make the climate footprint of buildings visible at an early stage of design. And LFM 30, a collaboration for climate neutrality in the construction industry, which has already had a major impact and in which FOJAB is involved and leads the working group for climate-neutral building materials.

What are the main challenges facing the sector?

- The construction industry has been a bit like the car industry. You wait for a viable alternative and until then you continue with business as usual. Now it is taking steps in the right direction, largely due to economic pressure from rising raw material prices. Political decisions are also driving this. In recent years, we have also noticed a growing interest in sustainability issues from our customers' customers. They ask for a product that strengthens their brand. But if we look at what would be required to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, no one in the industry is there today.

What is required to achieve the targets?

- To solve the problems at this level, we need to find ways to work together. No one is big enough to do it alone. Not us as a company, not all the architectural offices in Sweden, not even all the architects in the world. So we need to expand our networks, find new collaborations. We must spread our knowledge, but we must also listen to others and to those who know more than we do.

- Exploring new working methods and processes is also an important part of the transition. As in the Cyklopet parking garage in Malmö, where the façade is made up of residual products and recycled materials - this requires completely new ways of thinking. How do we handle materials when we don't know their properties properly and their availability is uncertain? And who guarantees the quality of what is recycled, which is where the law comes in.

- These are complex processes and I feel that the industry is currently waiting a bit. But FOJAB will always have one foot in the air, work to take the next step and be ready. As soon as there is new ground to stand on, we will stand there.