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2022-03-28
Decarbonising Buildings in Cities and Regions
OECD

Accounting for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions and sometimes as much as 70% in large cities, buildings and construction are central to the low-carbon transition. Decarbonising buildings, especially the old stock, through energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy use, not only reduces carbon emissions, but also generates co-benefits in health, energy affordability and the labour market. Additionally, global mega-trends and the transition to a green recovery from COVID-19 provide impetus for stakeholders to take action. Cities and regions have a key role to play and can leverage prerogatives in regulation, public procurement and stakeholder engagement, while addressing multiple governance, capacity and funding gaps. To accelerate and scale up their action, cities and regions need to work with national governments to create an effective governance mechanism. Drawing on the findings of a dedicated survey of cities and regions of all sizes from both OECD and non-OECD countries, this report explains their significant role, explores sub-national policy measures, identifies key obstacles, and provides policy recommendations and a checklist for both national and subnational governments to drive the decarbonisation of buildings in cities and regions.
 

Download the report here!

2022-01-14
The Adaptation Imperative for Buildings
PEEB

Buildings – our homes, schools, offices - are at risk from extreme climate events such as floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts, soil erosion or wild fires. Developing countries and poorer populations, which are more exposed and more vulnerable to disasters, are disproportionately affected by climate change. Among the 100 fastest growing cities in the world, 84 are already at an extreme risk from climate change. Failure to adapt buildings can threaten socio-economic development. Yet, adaptation of the building sector remains largely unaddressed.

PEEB’s new briefing, the Adaptation imperative for Buildings, demonstrates the importance of implementing climate adaptation and mitigation in tandem to address current climate threats and avoid worst future impacts. Synergies between mitigation, adaptation and development goals in the building sector are numerous: passive cooling, flexible design, local materials, nature-based solutions or water conservation can both improve the resilience of buildings and reduce their environmental impact while increasing quality of life and local employment. These synergies must be brought to wider global attention in order to scale up action.

With over 10% of all investments worldwide, development banks can play a major role in scaling up low-carbon and resilient buildings by raising awareness, setting new standards and building capacities. The briefing presents a set of recommendations and case studies to help development banks mainstream climate adaptation and mitigation across their investments in partner countries.

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.

 

UNECE logo
2021-07-13
UNECE new national studies on energy efficiency in buildings for Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Republic of Moldova
UNECE

UNECE has developed three in-depth national studies for Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and the Republic of Moldova under the project “Enhancing National Capacities to Develop and Implement Energy Efficiency Standards for Buildings in the UNECE Region”, which aims to enhance capacity of the UNECE member States to improve energy efficiency in buildings, with a focus on residential buildings. More information on UNECE helps Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Moldova scale up cost-effective climate action by improving buildings’ energy efficiency 

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.

2021-06-10 | Sibyl Steuwer, Janne Rieke Boll
Introducing a carbon price on heating fuels – an effective signal for faster decarbonisation?
BPIE

According to the Renovation Wave Strategy, the buildings sector must contribute a 60% emission reduction to achieve the EU’s 2030 climate target. This requires a steep increase of deep renovations from currently 0.2% to 3% annually and a well-designed bundle of policies to overcome the distinct barriers of the sector. To achieve ambitious reductions in the non-emissions trading system (ETS) sectors (to which buildings and transport currently belong), the introduction of an EU-wide CO2 price in the buildings and transport sectors is currently debated within the European institutions. In particular, an introduction of an ETS for transport and buildings, either by extending the current EU ETS or by setting up a separate scheme for buildings and transport, is currently being discussed. Both options would imply a transfer of the compliance mechanism at least partly from the Member States to an Emissions Trading Scheme and the regulated parties, and thus a reform of the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). Alternatively, national targets under the ESR could be strengthened to reflect the new climate protection targets. This briefing shows the role of a carbon price to reduce carbon emissions in the buildings sector based on existing literature, market insights of the building sector and experiences from European countries. The paper then explains the implications for the design of a carbon price regime – either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme – and the resulting changes to the compliance mechanism for carbon reductions in the building sector. This briefing shows the role of a carbon price to reduce carbon emissions in the buildings sector and looks at the implications for the design of a carbon price regime and the resulting changes to the compliance mechanism for carbon reductions in the building sector. https://www.bpie.eu/publication/introducing-a-carbon-price-on-heating-fuels-an-effective-signal-for-faster-decarbonisation/

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.

2021-05-17 | Zsolt Toth, Jonathan Volt
Whole-life Carbon: Challenges and solutions for highly efficient and climate-neutral buildings
BPIE

The European Union aims to be climate-neutral by 2050, requiring a fundamental transformation of the construction and building sectors. This decade is critical as direct building CO2 emissions need to more than halve by 2030 to get on track for a net-zero carbon building stock by 2050. Emissions must be drastically cut throughout the whole lifecycle of buildings, encompassing all operational and embodied emissions. In the Renovation Wave strategy, the European Commission announced its intention to address “lifecycle thinking and circularity”; it is important that the intention is followed up by decisive action and integrated into regulatory proposals. This summary report introduces basic concepts and key issues related to the integration of whole-life carbon considerations in building policies.

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