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2021-10-19
2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction

The Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction is a reference document published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC). This year's edition finds that in 2020, the sector accounted for 36 per cent of global final energy consumption and 37 per cent of energy related CO2 emissions, as compared to other end use sectors. While the level of emissions within the sector are 10 per cent lower than in 2019, reaching lows not seen since 2007, this was largely due to lockdowns, slowing of economies, difficulties households and businesses faced in maintaining and affording energy access and a fall in construction activity. Efforts to decarbonize the sector played only a small role.

Global Energy and Emissions 2021 Buildings GSR

Collectively, stakeholders in the sector must seize the opportunity that the COVID-19 economic recovery period offers to foster transformation for decarbonizing the sector. The sector must simultaneously meet a projected near-doubling of global demand for energy services in buildings and at least a doubling of floor space as developing economies continue to respond to the growing demand for building floor space, access to energy services and economic activities.

 

2021-09-17 | Ursula Hartenberger (PathTo2050), York Ostermeyer (Chalmers University), Thomas Lützkendorf (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology)
The Building Passport: A Tool for Capturing and Managing Whole Life Data and Information in Construction and Real Estate

Environmental targets for the construction sector have become ever more stringent. Many stakeholders on both the supply and demand sides are increasingly calling for accessible and reliable data and information on buildings. Policymakers and market participants alike see the development and use of Building Passports as a way of overcoming current data gaps and data barriers, helping to capture, administer and manage building-related data and information across the whole life cycle. The overarching goals of these practical guidelines, which represent the collaborative effort of a global Task Force of public and private sector experts, are to illustrate the value of developing holistic, multi-dimensional Building Passports. At the same time, the guidelines reflect key aspects of past discussions about how to make them work in practice, drawing on the experiences of stakeholders and on existing and emerging similar-type initiatives. As such, these guidelines are a supporting tool that:

- explain the approach of a Building Passport for a more systematic and coherent approach to building-related data and information.

- help build capacity for improved data capture and management through practical recommendations and real-life examples of good practice.

- ensure a minimum of harmonization / standardization.

- foster more widespread market transformation through progressive digitization of building-related data and information, thus creating greater overall sectoral transparency and opportunities for the development of new business models and tools.

The report will be available to download soon.

2021-07-28 | GlobalABC, ICLEI
Human Settlements - Climate Action Pathway
Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action

The GlobalABC is co-lead of the Built Environment Track of the Human Settlements Pathway!

The Human Settlements are one of the Thematic Areas of the Climate Action Pathways, which are a vital part of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action (MPGCA) tools to enhance climate action and ambition towards fully implementing the Paris Agreement. The Pathways aim to provide a roadmap to help Parties and non-Party stakeholders alike to identify actions needed by 2025, 2030 and 2040 as steps to get to the 2050 vision of a 1.5°C resilient world. In this regard, the climate action pathway for human settlements addresses whole-life carbon mitigation, adaptation and resilience in the built environment, as well as waste and consumption within human settlements.

Restricting climate change to 1.5°C would need “rapid and far-reaching” changes around energy use, industry and buildings design, as well as the wider planning of cities and infrastructure. The buildings and construction sector currently account for almost 40% of global energy and process-related carbon emissions, while around half of buildings that are predicted to exist in 2050 have yet to be built. Continuing in this direction, over 970 cities could be subjected to extreme heat, 500 cities could suffer from lack of water availability, and over 570 cities could be impacted by sea level rise by 2050. If action is not taken today, we risk locking emissions and vulnerability into our buildings and infrastructure that will become increasingly costly to mitigate in the future. Based on this critical observation, the built environment track of the Human Settlements climate action pathway outlines a set of necessary stakeholder (i.e. policy makers, financial institutions, technology providers and innovators, business and service providers and civil society) actions to be taken to accelerate the transition to a net-zero carbon, healthy and resilient built environment.

2021-07-09
Decarbonizing construction: Guidance for investors and developers to reduce embodied carbon
World Business Council for Sustainable Development

A large part of the construction sector’s emissions come from building products and materials – referred to as embodied carbon. Embodied carbon is increasingly becoming the focus of regulatory bodies, making it a risk factor for developers and investors to price into construction projects.

This report provides guidance on how to reduce embodied carbon in buildings. The report targets developers and investors who have a unique opportunity to shape demand and drive transformation at the early stages of building projects. By doing so, they can significantly reduce the “financed” emissions across different asset classes they are invested in.

The report provides over 50 embodied carbon-reduction policies and best practices that investors and developers can adopt for their projects and guidance on how to use them. We have grouped each measure into one of the following five categories.

  • Create a carbon policy that sets out consistent requirements for all projects to follow.
  • Set targets and transparency requirements for projects to meet across all their phases.
  • Prioritize circularity – that is, less new building and more reuse and refurbishment.
  • Design optimization to use less material and to choose materials with a low carbon footprint.
  • Low-carbon procurement to ensure acquisition of materials with a low carbon footprint.

Developers and investors can use the guidance as it stands or adapt it to their needs. The measures and requirements are flexible and can easily be combined with different green building certifications or sustainability reporting systems.

2021-07-08
Net-zero buildings: Where do we stand?
World Business Council for Sustainable Development

This report looks in detail at the results of six whole life cycle assessment (WLCA) case studies to illustrate some of the challenges, barriers and opportunities relating to the building industry’s carbon footprint. It aims to provide an insight into the industry’s current performance and compare it to possible net-zero trajectories.

Analyzing the whole life carbon emissions of six building projects using the WBCSD Building System Carbon Framework, the report shows that:

  • An average whole life carbon footprint of 1,800 kgCO2e/m2 was estimated across the six case studies.
  • As much as 50% of whole life carbon emissions in a building comes from embodied carbon (manufacturing of materials and the construction process) the majority of this being emitted immediately at the start of the life cycle.
  • Typically as few as six materials account for 70% of the construction-related embodied carbon.

The report identifies crucial next steps to support the sector’s journey toward decarbonization:

  • Adopt a clear definition of a net-zero building, taking into account whole life-cycle carbon.
  • Carry out WLCA on all projects, using a consistent methodology and open-source sharing of the data obtained.
  • Commit to clear, simple global targets across the buildings industry, including a valid approach to residual emissions (offsetting).
  • Develop consistent and transparent carbon intensity certification for components, systems and materials used by the industry.
  • Achieve wider collaboration as individual organizations taking action is not enough.

WBCSD developed this report in collaboration with professional service firm Arup. The authors encourage stakeholders from across the built environment to conduct whole-life carbon assessments of their projects and openly publish the results to create a body of evidence and foster shared learning.

2021-07-06 | Rajat Gupta (Oxford Brookes University), Mittul Vahanvati (RMIT University), Julia Häggström (SEfficiency), Jacob S. Halcomb (SEfficiency).
A Practical Guide to Climate-resilient Buildings & Communities
UNEP & SEfficiency

This practical guide demonstrates how buildings and community spaces can be constructed to increase their resilience to climate change, especially in developing countries where structures are largely self-built. The publication provides an overview of the fundamental types of interventions at the building scale, including the use of nature-based solutions. 

The guide offers construction solutions to adapt to a range of different risks in various climates. For instance, it shows us how to reduce indoor heat in hot and arid climates, or how to mitigate cyclone impacts on buildings in hot and humid climates. Importantly, the report also provides us with a highly practical checklist that should be considered by government officers and development practitioners when undertaking a new building project. 

The guidance has been developed because there is a recognized need to understand good practices for climate-resilient buildings in communities that may suffer from a deficit of professionally trained architects, engineers, and other practitioners. Therefore, this note is written for a broad audience, including those with little experience in the building and construction industries.

2021-08-07 | Myriam Steinemann (INFRAS), Stefan Kessler (INFRAS)
DECARBONIZING THE BUILDING SECTOR - 10 KEY MEASURES

This publication aims to inspire senior officials and decision makers in national, subnational and local governments to decarbonize the building sector, and to show them how to start. It does not present a comprehensive strategy, but rather highlights a set of essential measures and successful examples from intervention areas identified in the GlobalABC Regional Roadmaps – new buildings, existing buildings, building operations, building materials, and resilience. It assists officials and decision makers in identifying a starting point of a process for systematically incorporating building activities in their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement. For a holistic approach, senior officials and decision makers may refer to the more comprehensive GlobalABC Global and Regional Roadmaps.

2021-05-21 | GlobalABC Secretariat
GlobalABC Brochure
GlobalABC Secretariat

This is an updated brochure that brings a snapshot of the goals and work of the GlobalABC.

2021-05-19 | Rob Bernhardt
Addressing the Cost of Efficiency

The question of cost comes up when discussing any form of change, whether it be automobiles, cell phones or better buildings. Throughout history, humans have bettered their life through innovation, delivering better products for less money, yet a pervasive assumption persists in the construction sector that improvements to building efficiency, durability, resilience or health will negatively impact affordability. The opposite is in fact true, yet the assumption continues in many circles.

To address this assumption, I have frequently been asked for costing studies to demonstrate the affordability of highly energy efficient new buildings. The “better costs more” narrative assumes, for example, that energy efficiency requires adding stuff to buildings, thereby increasing cost, rather than designing them differently to achieve better outcomes. This article is written to provide a response to those concerned about the cost of climate and people friendly new buildings.

2021-04-28
Buildings and Construction: a key sector for climate action

A key sector for climate action, buildings and construction is not on track. Driving down emissions will entail: aggressively reducing energy demand in the built environment, while decarbonizing the power sector and implementing materials strategies that reduce lifecycle carbon emissions. In this brochure, you will find key data, key messages and further readings about the buildings and construction sector.

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