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Forging global and regional pathways

Our global and regional roadmaps: Forging global and regional pathways towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector 

With the Paris Agreement countries have agreed to a common goal of maintaining the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees, and preferably no more than 1.5 degrees, by the end of the century. According to the latest UNEP Emissions Gap report, to be on track for the 1.5 degree goal, the world needs to reduce global emissions by over 50% by 2030 and work towards carbon neutrality by 2050. As the buildings and construction sector accounted for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, globally, in 2018, it will have to play a major part in achieving this vision.

The vision for the global building and construction sector is clear: to be decarbonised by 2050. Achieving this outcome requires a shift towards a zero-carbon emissions, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector across the built environment lifecycle, reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 with most new buildings reaching net-zero embodied, and operational, carbon emissions. This will require integrated planning for low carbon cities, addressing climate resilience and adaptation, and the use of new technologies and digital solutions. Intermediate milestones with clear strategies need to be developed to significantly reduce operational and embodied carbon in buildings by 2030. 

The building sector is not on track to meet these goals. The 2019 Global Status Report shows that decarbonisation efforts and energy efficiency improvements are being outpaced by rapidly expanding floor area and growth in demand for energy consuming services. A sector-wide transformation, using policy to drive the availability of cost-effective technologies and strategies, would significantly reduce the sector’s emissions and support the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goals 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and Goal 13 (Climate Action) as well as several commitments under the New Urban Agenda.

To support decarbonising new and existing buildings, effective policies and regulations need to cover the entire building lifecycle, including the design, development, operation and decommissioning stages, and also act beyond site boundaries through neighbourhood planning and clean energy. Innovations and application of best available clean technology and low carbon materials will drive improved energy performance and carbon emissions, while improving building quality. With appropriately designed and implemented policies and financial incentives, a range of cost-effective actions can deliver substantial energy savings and emissions reductions towards 2030 and 2050 targets. 
Greater collaboration is crucial to accelerate action. Concerted action is necessary to succeed in the zero-carbon transformation of the built environment; from policy makers to architects, construction companies to utility companies, materials suppliers to developers, and investors to urban planners, everyone has a role to play. Stakeholders across the value chain are showing increasing awareness of the need to mitigate against and adapt to the effects of climate change and are becoming more open to guidance on how to take action. 
Roadmaps support a common vision and language by outlining indicative targets and timelines for appropriate policies and technologies across eight activity areas (urban planning, new buildings, building retrofits, building operations, systems, materials, resilience and clean energy), along with key actions, and developed in partnership with experts and stakeholders across the world. The roadmap also identifies data and ambition gaps that need to be addressed to achieve this vision.

The Global and Regional Roadmaps aim to be an instrument for framing debate at all jurisdictional levels to implement strong, forward-looking policies and to integrate emerging and innovative technologies. With tools such as these, a prosperous future with 100% whole-life net-zero carbon emission buildings in the next three decades can be built through purposeful long-term policies, decisive business action, and the support of all buildings and construction stakeholders.

Our updated global and new regional roadmaps will be released soon and can be found here or under our dedicated regional roadmap section (forthcoming).

Towards