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GlobalABC leads UNFCCC Technical Expert Meeting on Mitigation - Buildings

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Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation 2020: Developing pathways for moving to scale 

Organized by the UNFCCC and the GlobalABC on Wednesday, 14 October 2020, 12:00 - 13:45 CES

Buildings and construction are responsible for almost 40% of energy-and process related emission, 36% of final energy demand, and almost 50% of waste globally. Over 50% of buildings standing in 2060 have not yet been built-we’re building a Paris every 5 days and we need to get it right! If we are to achieve the Paris Agreement goals and indeed many of the Sustainable Development goals, we need to decarbonize this essential sector. Solutions are there, but we need to increase scale and pace, and we need all hands on deck.

In this third and final session of the Technical Expert Meeting on mitigation (TEM-M) we learned about tools for going to scale such as the GlobalABC Regional Roadmaps for Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the MPGCA Pathways, which foster radical collaboration along the value chain, raise ambition levels, set common goals, and thus guide the way, are critical to achieve this.  

The GlobalABC regional roadmaps guide sectoral transformation through 8 key areas: urban planning, new buildings, existing buildings, operations, appliances, materials, resilience, and clean energy. Each of the 8 categories shows key policy and technology action needed (e.g. performance-based building codes), and outlines stakeholders that have a particularly important role. As stakeholder driven instruments with input from over 700 experts, the tools also outline data and ambition gaps – areas where more action is needed. Such gaps include increasing life cycle analysis, more passive design approaches, and compliance with existing building codes. Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action pathway on buildings outline action needed based on the regional roadmaps for net zero buildings by 2030.

Roadmaps can also inform and lead to more ambitious NDCs. Indeed, we need more ambitious buildings targets in NDCs - the current level of ambition expressed in Buildings actions in NDCs needs to increase  - with more ambitious commitments on net zero, more comprehensive scope including BOTH operational AND embodied emissions, BOTH covering residential as well as non-residential buildings as BOTH new construction and renovation. We need such commitments to take solutions to scale. Indeed, the evidence shows that the right packaging of regulations, incentives and voluntary standards and obligations deliver cost-effective energy savings, emission reductions and significant co-benefits. The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of actions - and eclipsed by the social and economic benefits available. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing frequency and severity of climate change impacts, mitigation commitments in NDCs and by non-state actors need to be aligned with adaptation plans and post-Covid recovery strategies. There are a lot of synergies.

However, regulation and public-sector commitments are not the only driver for going to scale. Building certification have in important role to play for benchmarking and transforming markets through standard setting benchmarking, and quality assurance: Through certification the market can be pushed and pulled to realize better buildings which are in line with the Paris agreement. Even voluntary certification can help to explore and demonstrate what the market is already able to do and therefore can inspire policy makers to be more ambitious with national regulations. In addition and related to the data gaps the regional roadmaps revealed, certification systems are great learning tool to collect data which is needed to make the argument for sustainable buildings.

Key regulation, commitments, and market instruments such as certification can spark action on the ground to ‘wake’ this sleeping giant of climate change. The improvement of building infrastructure towards a green and zero carbon building stock is not only a clear investment in the sustainable future of a country but the investments in green buildings will also now, in times of economic crisis, boost the economy tremendously.  

Indeed, many countries are ready to act but they lack know-how and support. The PEEB (The French-German support programme for energy efficiency in buildings) can support countries with technical and financial assistance. The advice from PEEB goes alongside the guiding principles of the roadmaps that were jointly developed by the GlobalABC members. PEEB for instance works with Morocco on a national green programme for social and mid-income housing – showing how sustainability and affordability are tightly linked in housing. Next to morocco, PEEB also works in Senegal, Tunisia, Mexico, and Vietnam. In Vietnam, PEEB is working on a national buildings NDC roadmap with the Ministry for Construction. Indeed, one of the most effective ways for moving sustainable building to scale is make use of a program approach, building on the success of demonstration projects and formulating comprehensive national strategies on low emission/resilient/green buildings/housing programs. Pilot programmes need to then be deployed nationwide through coupling financial with technical assistance, stimulating market demand and supply side, and using domestic green bonds. Such steps are essential in moving he Vietnam NDC buildings roadmap forward, while fostering inter-ministerial coordination, and strong institutional buy-in, and stakeholder involvement to get all hands on deck for moving solutions to scale.

Speakers included:

  • Introducing tools for moving to scale: MPGCA pathways and regional roadmaps: Martina OTTO, UNEP/Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC)
  • Achieving a net zero built environment: What’s needed in NDCs and building standards: Dr. Peter GRAHAM, Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN)
  • Transforming the buildings market through certification: Dr. Christine LEMAITRE, German Sustainable Buildings Council (DGNB) GmbH
  • Moving to action - from regional to national roadmaps:
  • Christiana HAGENEDER, GIZ/Agence Française pour le Developpement and Programme for Energy Efficiency in buildings (PEEB)
  • Kim THOA/Tuan ANH, GIZ office Vietnam/Ministry of Construction (MOC), Vietnam

This was the third and final of three sessions of the Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEM-M 2020) event series on “Human settlements: sustainable low-emission housing and building solutions. Technologies and design for buildings, housing and construction”. Please find additional information here.