In 2018, the buildings sector in Latin America accounted for 24% of final energy use and 21% of process-related CO2 emissions. In the next 20 years, the region is expected to see a 20% population growth, accompanied by an 83% growth in wealth. These trends will likely drive significant floor area and energy demand growth. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that by 2030 there is a USD 4 trillion business opportunity for the decarbonization of the buildings sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. The contradiction for the region seems to be that taking climate action in the buildings and construction sector, though considered among the most cost-effective, seems to be lagging. Investing in this sector can not only improve energy performance and manage energy demand and put the Region on track with the Paris Agreement, but also improve human health and productivity and help to also achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Developed as a framework and a process, the GlobalABC Roadmaps present a comprehensive approach to emission reductions from the built environment along the full life cycle - with aspirational targets and timelines towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector between now and 2050. The roadmaps cover eight themes, including urban planning, new buildings, existing buildings, building operations, appliances and systems, materials, resilience and clean energy, in the quest of harnessing the sector's enormous opportunities for decarbonization. Built on a global methodology, they reflect regional specificities, and highlight priorities and data gaps for each region and present both a framework and a process that can be used at a national level and support the buildings and construction sector's Race to Zero by 2050.
On 15 July, at the occasion of the International Sustainable Cities Congress, the GlobalABC and IEA launched the Regional Roadmap for Buildings and Construction in Latin America 2020-2050. This is the result of a highly consultative process, involving more than 250 regional experts who engaged in its development process and they bring a common vision and language for the buildings and construction sector's highly fragmented value-chain and support the transition towards the decarbonization of the sector.
With welcome remarks from the Vice-Minister for Energy Rolando Castro Cordoba and the President of the Costa Rica Green Building Council, Ana Quiros, the virtual event brought together more than 200 attendees from around the world. A presentation from Maxine Jordan from the International Energy Agency highlighted the main key aspects of the document that shows us that there is an ambitious agenda for the sector in the region, with great examples of existing programs, many of which are presented in the roadmap document. Maxine also pointed to gaps and need to increase capacity building, raise awareness and improve the access to finance, as identified in the development process of the roadmap. Finally, the implications for designers and policymakers was given to inspire practitioners and experts on the actions that need to be taken to achieve the targets set for Latin America, within the next 30 years.
As part of the interactive session of the event, attendees self-selected into one or four groups: (1) Roadmaps as Regional Tools, (2) Implementing Roadmap Actions on a National Level – Mexico, (3) Implementing Roadmap Actions on a National Level – Brazil, and (4) Addressing Data and Ambition Gaps. Through an online polling system, participants were able to respond to questions raised by the moderators, commenting on the topic and engage in discussions. Across the different groups, there was a consensus that municipalities play a key role in the realization of decarbonization goals and hence, multi-level governance should be prioritized. Policy tools like mandatory building codes and mandatory labelling are seen as the most effective instrument but need to be coupled with integration of national and sub-national action for enforcement. Multi-stakeholder initiatives can bring multiple actors around a common agenda and work towards a shared vision – an example of such an initiative being the national alliances, like the GlobalABC Mexico chapter. There was also an understanding that, in addition to much action needed at national level, there is room to grow regional cooperation on several fronts – sharing databases, harmonizing building codes across climatic zones, and aligning standards and testing of appliances, which is already taking place through UNEP’s U4E programme. Participants also identified as important elements for success having better communication on the benefits of measures, increasing political will, and allowing for more creativity and innovation in this sector.
The virtual event was finalized with inspiring words of Secretary for Climate Change Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina, who highlighted the importance and urgency of climate action, the consequences to human well-being and quality of life and Argentina’s commitment to the energy efficiency and decarbonization agenda, demonstrating interest in the development of a national roadmap for the country. The presentation and discussions gave room for buildings and construction experts to learn more about this important tool and to be encouraged by other engaged experts and practitioners of the buildings and construction sector that, despite the challenges, present an unparalleled opportunity for cost-effective climate action.
 Excluding emissions from manufacturing building materials and products such as steel, cement and glass (2019 Global Status Report