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Tracking progress

The 2023 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction will be published in March 2024. Watch this event recording from COP28 Buildings Pavilion to get a preview of the latest key trends. 

2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction

The Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction (Buildings-GSR) is a flagship publication of the UNEP-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC). The Buildings-GSR provides an annual snapshot of the progress of the buildings and construction sector on a global scale and reviews the status of policies, finance, technologies, and solutions to monitor whether the sector is aligned with the Paris Agreement goals. It also provides stakeholders with evidence to persuade policymakers and the overall buildings and construction community to take action.

What is new in the 2022 edition? 

  • Buildings and construction: disruptions and challenges facing the buildings sector in 2022 
  • Global Building Carbon Tracker: Are we on track towards the Paris Agreement Goals?
  • Updates on building codes and building decarbonisation in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • Status of investment in building energy efficiency
  • Deep dive on:
    • Africa (regional focus)
    • Building materials (topical focus)

 

The Global Buildings Climate Tracker indicates that the buildings and construction sector remains off track to achieve decarbonization by 2050.

The GBCT shows a negative rebound since 2020 in the decarbonization of the buildings sector, with increased energy intensity and higher emissions. The gap between the actual climate performance of the sector and the necessary decarbonization pathway is widening. The lack of structural or systemic decarbonisation improvement in the building sector leaves its emissions reductions vulnerable to external factors.

2022 Buildings-GSR

GBCT

The growing and intersecting economic, energy, security and climate crises both challenge and highlight the progress needed to decarbonize and to improve the resilience of the global buildings sector.

  • In 2021, construction activities rebounded back to pre-pandemic levels in most major economies, alongside more energy-intensive use of buildings. In addition, more emerging economies increased their use of fossil fuel gases in buildings.
  • The buildings sector represents 40 per cent of Europe’s energy demand, 80 per cent of it from fossil fuels.
  • There are significant risks to the decarbonization trajectory due to the conflict in Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis in Europe. Further risks are posed by global energy price volatility, along with the cost-of-living crisis facing economies and the implications of interest rate rises on investment in building decarbonization from governments, households and businesses.
  • Political and organizational leadership must prioritize actions that support the decarbonization and sustainability transition of the built environment.

In 2021, the buildings and construction sector accounted for around 37% of energy- and process-related CO2 emissions and over 34% of energy demand globally. 

  • In 2021, the buildings sector’s operational energy-related CO2 emissions reached an all-time high of around 10 GtCO2, an increase that exceeds the 2020 level by around 5% and the pre-pandemic peak of 2019 by 2%.
  • In 2021, operational energy demand in buildings reached an all-time high of 135 EJ, which is an increase of around 4% from the 2020 period and has exceeded the previous peak in 2019 by over 3%. 

Global share of buildings and construction operational and process CO2 emissions, 2021

emissions

 

Global share of buildings and construction final energy demand, 2021 

energy

More progress is required on global adoption of mandatory building energy codes and for existing codes to align to zero emissions.

  • Since 2020, there has been little progress on national building energy codes in countries which are yet to adopt them.
  • In 2021, 79/196 (40%) of countries had building energy codes which are either mandatory for at least part of the building stock or have a voluntary component. Yet, only 26% of countries had mandatory codes for the entire buildings sector. 
  • In 2021, the number of green building certifications increased by 19% across the world compared to 2020.

Ambition to act on buildings’ emissions has increased, but must be matched by action in policy, regulation and continued investment.

  • In 2021, 158 countries mentioned buildings in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), of which 118 refer to energy efficiency as a part of their emissions reduction strategy. However, the ambition of NDCs must be matched by increased adoption of building energy codes.
  • Just under 20% of the world’s population lives in countries whose NDC has no or limited references to buildings.

Governments have increased the level of energy efficiency investment in line with levels needed to support the Paris Agreement. 

  • In 2021, investment in building energy efficiency increased by an unprecedented 16% from 2020 to a total of approximately USD 237 billion. However, this was dominated by investments from EU countries, the USA, Canada and Japan.
  • The global buildings construction sector value increased by 5% to more than $6.3 trillion in 2021.
  • Global increases in the cost of living will put pressure on borrowing costs, but energy efficiency presents a means of moderating energy cost volatility as well as reducing emissions.

Africa’s building stock has low resilience to climate change, posing unique challenges in the coming decades. Yet, Africa’s housing challenges can still be turned into opportunities of building sustainability and resilience. 

  • An estimated 70% of the African building stock in 2040 still has to be built.
  • The current resilience of buildings against the growing impacts of climate change is low, in particular as more than half of African citizens are living in informal housing.
  • The building and construction sector of Africa is worth USD 5.4 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.4% by 2024.
  • Cooling is expected to be a major future challenge for residential energy demand in Africa: The IEA projects that the African household energy demand by 2030 for cooling will increase the most. 
  • Africa is rich in renewable energy sources, solar and wind, with nearly half (44.8%) of the total renewable energy technological potential.

Embodied carbon in buildings need immediate action to avoid undermining the carbon reductions achieved from energy efficiency.

  • Materials used in the construction of buildings (i.e. concrete, steel, aluminium, glass and bricks) are estimated to represent around 9% of overall energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • Globally, approximately 100 billion tonnes of waste is caused by construction, renovation and demolition, with about 35% sent to landfills. 
  • Raw material use is predicted to double by 2060 – with steel, concrete and cement already major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • In fast-growing developing economies, construction materials are set to dominate resource consumption, with associated GHG emissions expected to double by 2060. 
  • A whole-life cycle approach to construction is essential to maximise sustainability.
  materials

The global buildings and construction sector must work collectively and with all stakeholders to decarbonize by 2050. 

The buildings sector will continue to grow to meet citizens’ needs for safe housing and workplaces, but its growth must be in alignment with the Paris Agreement. Policymakers on all governance levels must therefore implement effective policy instruments and tools which deliver the needed emission reductions while achieving the objectives of a sustainable and resilient buildings and construction sector. Decisionmakers in industry and the finance sector must embrace the transformation of their sector and invest in innovation, products and services which accelerate decarbonisation. Civil society participation will be crucial to support the necessary change.

The 2022 Buildings-GSR issues a series of key recommendations for decision-makers, including:

  • Build coalitions of national stakeholders to set targets and strategies towards a sustainable, zero-carbon and resilient buildings and construction sector through Buildings Roadmaps. Following the GlobalABC roadmaps process and model, more than 30 countries and territories have been developing roadmaps.
  • National and sub-national governments must establish mandatory building energy codes and set a pathway for their building codes and standards to achieve net zero as soon as possible. 
  • Governments and non-state actors must increase their investment in energy efficiency. 
  • The construction and real estate industries must implement zero-carbon strategies for new and existing buildings.
  • The building materials and construction industries must commit to reducing their CO2 emissions throughout their value chain.
  • Governments, especially cities, need to implement policies that promote the shift to 'circular material economies'.
  • Fast-growing countries and economies need investment in capacity-building and supply chains that promote energy-efficient designs, low-carbon and sustainable construction.

Download our 2022 Buildings-GSR and read more!

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