COP24: Huge untapped potential in greener construction, says UN environment agency

UN News/Matt Wells UN Environment (UNEP) and Yale University’s Ecological Living Module; a sustainable tiny house exhibited at UN Headquarters in New York.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Noting some progress in greening the global construction industry, the United Nations environment agency (UNEP) co-released a report on Friday at the COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, sounding the alarm on the need for “dramatic action” to reduce the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s critical we have a big change over the next couple of years in how we do buildings and construction”, said Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UNEP. “We only need to look at the current norms and quality of many buildings to see that we can do so much better,” she said, emphasizing that “we need to raise the bar in energy-efficient, green buildings and far better practice in construction.”

Currently, buildings account for close to 40 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 36 per cent of all energy consumption. In the report, which was co-authored by the International Energy Agency (IEA), UNEP warned that “dramatic action will be needed by governments, cities and business if the global buildings and construction sector is to cut its carbon footprint in line with international agreements.”

Titled ‘Towards a Zero-Emission, Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Construction Sector’, the report was presented against the backdrop of ongoing COP24 negotiations on how to move ahead with the implementation of the climate action agreement adopted in Paris, in 2015, when 197 parties committed to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The development of new techniques, tools, products and technologies – such as heat pumps, better windows, stronger insulation, energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy and smarter design – has enabled emissions to stabilize over the past few years.

There are other encouraging signs. Several property, construction, cement and steel-manufacturing firms are among the 500 companies (representing trillions of dollars in revenue) which have aligned their emission reduction targets with the Paris Agreement; and the 71-member private sector network, the World Green Building Council non-profit organisation, is advocating for all buildings to emit zero net emissions by 2050.

There is huge potential to reduce the current level of emissions, but action has been too slow, environmentalists say. To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, hosted by UNEP, is targeting a 30 per cent energy use improvement in the buildings and construction sector.

Buildings are ‘key driver of energy demand’

What will make things even more challenging, is that the number of new buildings is anticipated to grow rapidly in the coming years, especially in the urban areas of Africa and Asia.

“Buildings are a key driver of energy demand, and developments within the sector such as the growing uptake of air conditioners are having a big impact on energy and environmental trends at the global level,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, which is an autonomous intergovernmental organization.

The new report highlights a major gap between the amount of money spent on energy efficient solutions and the rapidly growing amount invested in building construction and renovation. “If we don’t make buildings more efficient, their rising energy use will impact us all, whether it be through access to affordable energy services, poor air quality or higher energy bills,” warned Dr. Birol.

In particular, the data raises a red flag over the sharply rising demand for cooling systems and air conditioners; linked with improving living-standards in developing countries coupled with rising temperatures in many parts of the globe, due to climate change. Since 2010, the energy used by cooling systems has increased by 25 per cent and there are now more than 1.6 billion air conditioning units in service.

One of the commitments of the Paris Agreement is for countries to develop and scale-up their own national climate action plans but, to date, only 104 plans mention specific actions to enhance energy-efficiency in buildings, building codes and energy certifications. Very few tackle the issue of construction materials – such as steel and cement – and the carbon emissions involved in their manufacturing.

Another area of action recommended by the report is the need for building standards to evolve towards buildings that are more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather events, such as storms and hurricanes, floods, high winds and soaring temperatures.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

Mediterranean and Black Seas: Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2020

Commission’s feeble response to financial benchmarks fraud

Two out of every five American couples now meet online

ISIL continues to pose a ‘serious challenge’ worldwide – UN counter-terror chief

Quality of Europe’s bathing waters remains high, latest annual assessment finds

Billions for sustainable investments – Germany’s plan for a green recovery

Merkel: Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance again in Europe

The economic effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus around the world

Is poverty and exclusion the necessary price for EU’s recovery?

Anti-Money Laundering: Commission decides to refer Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands to the Court of Justice of the EU for failing to fully implement EU anti-money laundering rules

From Hangzhou to Rwanda: how Jack Ma brought Chinese e-commerce to Africa

Migration has set EU’s political clock ticking; the stagnating economy cannot help it and Turkey doesn’t cooperate

Camino de Santiago – a global community on our doorstep

EU–US: What is the real exchange in a Free Trade Agreement?

EU-U.S. Trade Talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Germany is trying to rescue its fabled forests from climate change

5 ways to make your organization a great sustainability partner

Brexit: Ensuring a smooth transition for car producers and safety on the roads

Will GDPR block Blockchain?

The reason the world showed limited empathy to the Orlando victims

Opening – February plenary session, 27 new seats

Brussels waits for the Germans to arrive

Long-term EU budget: The Union’s ambitions must be matched with sufficient reliable funding

We need to rethink neuroscience. And you can help us

MEPs propose ways to boost plastics recycling

Yellen and Draghi tell Trump and markets not to expedite the next crisis

“America first” policy goes against EU-US partnership, say MEPs

FROM THE FIELD: Changing world, changing families

Embracing the diversity in a multicultural city of Romania

The great sustainable reset: The new world of work after the pandemic

From social entrepreneurship to systems entrepreneurship: how to create lasting change

Monday’s Daily Brief: Earth Day, looking for a solution to Libya crisis, focus on indigenous issues, Security Council on Sri Lanka, a high-level visit to Bangladesh

European car industry: The Germans want it all

UN chief welcomes G20 commitment to fight climate change

The new crisis is already creeping into the financial system

State aid: Commission approves €6 billion German measure to recapitalise Lufthansa

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

24 new European Universities reinforce the European Education Area

Libya: Thousands seek shelter in health clinics from Tripoli fighting, UN warns

Cross-border travel is confusing after COVID – this framework can help borders reopen safely

The importance of exchanges for the medical students of the world

China repels EU allegations of export subsidies

Vestager vs. Google: a fight to ensure a competitive innovation framework

State of the Union 2018: The Hour of European Sovereignty

Global response to poverty and environmental goals ‘not ambitious enough’

Ferry capsizes near Mosul, UN chief offers solidarity, support ‘as needed’

Will France vote for more or less Europe in the next presidential elections?

Eurozone: Statistics don’t tell the whole story

EU future at stake: MEPs broadly welcome Commission’s recovery package proposals

The 2019 European elections: A pro-European – and young – electorate with clear expectations

A woman would have to be born in the year 2255 to get equal pay at work

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Miraculous’ music made by hearing-impaired children

Inflation and interest rates indicate urgent need for action

The 28 EU leaders unable to start a relevant debate on migration and Brexit

This new initiative aims to make cybercrime harder – and riskier – to commit

GSMA announces speakers for Mobile 360 Series-West Africa

Responding to the anger

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s