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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.

2021-03-23 | Delphine Mourot, Mathilde Philippot, Sakina Pen Point
Guide des actions adaptatives au changement climatique
Groupe de travail et ateliers adaptation de l'OID

Le Guide des actions adaptatives au changement climatique permet de présenter aux acteurs désireux d’améliorer leur résilience un panel d'actions adaptatives et de cibler rapidement les plus appropriées compte tenu des caractéristiques de leurs bâtiments et de leurs besoins. A destination des acteurs de l’immobilier, du bâtiment et du territoire, il aborde les informations clés sur 41 actions adaptatives : Partie(s) du bâtiment ; Etapes du cycle de vie ; Estimation de coût ; Niveau de compétence requis ; Conseils de mise en œuvre ; Freins et leviers. Sur certaines fiches, retrouvez le retour d’expérience d’acteurs qui ont déjà expérimenté ces actions !

2019-11-01 | GlobalABC Secretariat
COP26 pavilion

A brochure on the buildings and real estate pavilion

2021-02-03
Buildings and Climate Change Adaptation: A Call to Action

This report is the first output of the GlobalABC “adaptation” working group (see appendix methodology), launched at COP24 in Katowice. During the Global- ABC meeting in Rabat in October 2018, the representatives of the Kingdom of Morocco and GlobalABC members expressed their mutual wish to see the challenges of climate change adaptation and the benefits of initiatives in the real-estate, building, and construction sector (referred to in this report as the RBC sector) be put in the spotlight, as up until now they have not been given due attention. The report was coordinated by the Green Building Observatory (OID, Paris) with the support of the French Ministry of Ecological Transition.

Climate change is regarded as the major issue that humanity will face this century. Extreme weather events and failure to implement climate-change mitigation and adaptation actions are the two greatest risks that the global economy will face in terms of their likelihood and impact, according to the World Economic Forum (2019).

The built environment is particularly at risk from climate change, and as such so are the people living and working within buildings. Governments and all actors along the buildings and construction value chain therefore need to take action, as climate risks pose a real threat to the lives and economic activities of people. Buildings as long-term assets should be resilient to climate change, and also to other future risks such as pandemics and potential behavior changes.

The report is divided into: 

PART 1: Why Does Adapting Buildings to Climate Change Matter?

The first section of the report deals with global challenges regarding adaptation of the built environment: definitions and relevance, macro-economic impacts (costs of adaptation vs non-adaptation) as well as the strong links between adaptation and mitigation in the RBC sector.

 

PART 2: Adapting the RBC Sector to Climate Change

The second section highlights ongoing and necessary changes in the RBC sector to better integrate adaptation challenges: processes based on the building lifecycle, risk assessments, regulatory frameworks and stakeholder engagement, i.e. creating an enabling environment for change. This section introduces concrete actions to this end.

 

PART 3: Frameworks of Action

The third and most important section presents a framework for suggested action for key actors in the RBC sector. It summarizes specific challenges faced by each actor in adapting buildings to climate change and identifies the current global state of their practices along with recommendations for each stakeholder group in order to improve the adaptation of buildings to climate change. The action plan was informed by surveys and interviews held with relevant stakeholders and has been reviewed by sectoral organisations. Five challenges and five recommendations are presented, selected in order to focus on the most critical issues.

 

Download now the full report or the specific sections below! 

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