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.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

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

Eating less beef and more beans would cut deaths by 5-7%

The European Parliament hemicycle in Strasbourg (Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro)

EU Parliament sends controversial copyright law reform back to discussion

Here are five ways we can make mental healthcare better

IMF’s Lagarde indirectly cautioned Eurozone on deflation

Who holds the key to the future of biotechnology? You do

Eurozone: New data show recession and debt closer to explosion

Ethiopia will soon introduce visa-free travel for all Africans

How smart farming is helping Brazil feed the world

Could robot leaders do better than our current politicians?

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

Can elections in Italy and Germany derail Eurozone?

This is how people in Europe are helping lead the energy charge

Policymakers can ensure the 4IR is fairer than the last three

London, Berlin, Paris to fight over EU budget

UN receives ‘Humanium’ wristwatch gift, symbolizing peaceful transformation

Mine ban agreement ‘has saved countless lives’, but ‘accelerated efforts’ needed to end scourge for good: Guterres

Why does the whole world want Britain to stay in the EU?

Will Qualcomm avoid Broadcom’s hostile takeover post the 1 bn euro EU antitrust fine?

World Summit Awards 2016: Sustainable impact through digital innovation

168 hours left for MEPs – ECOFIN Council to deliver a Banking Union

The global appetite for meat is growing, and it’s harming the planet

The vicious cycle of poverty and exclusion spreads fast engulfing more children

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

Travel the world, find yourself

Confronting neo-mercantilism: why regulation is critical to global trade

EU leaders agree on 2030 Climate and Energy Package: is “flexible” brave enough?

Greece @ MWC14: Greek-born mobile champions at MWC 2014

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

UN rights office calls on Zimbabwe Government to end ‘crackdown’ in response to fuel protests

The dangers of data: why the numbers never tell the full story

Berlin repels proposal for cheaper euro

This is where teachers are most (and least) respected

New roadmap toward healthier and cleaner oceans adopted by UN Environment and European Commission

Syria: UN Humanitarian Coordinator calls for unimpeded access from within the country

Tax crimes: MEPs want EU financial police force and financial intelligence unit

Launch of Pact for Youth: European Youth Forum calls for real business engagement

Ukraine: Is there a political force able to undo the division?

Draghi tells the EU Parliament his relaxed policies are here to stay

Tenants ‘forced out their homes’ by global investment firms, say UN experts

No agreement in sight on EU budget

Brexit talks stalled at launch; issues with European Court’s authority in Britain

Remembering Kofi Annan

Look Mom, even the House of Lords says the #righttobeforgotten is not right

Giving humanitarian help to migrants should not be a crime, say MEPs

Water supply a human right but Greeks to lose their functioning utilities

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, who gets it and who pays the bill?

What makes Copenhagen the world’s most bike-friendly city?

Security spillovers from Trump’s trade wars: China, Germany prepare for global disorder

This project is turning abandoned fishing gear into volleyball nets

The Fourth Industrial Revolution must not leave farming behind

Crucial medical supplies airlifted to north-east Syria to meet ‘desperate need’

World must do more to tackle ‘shadowy’ mercenary activities undermining stability in Africa, says UN chief

Parliamentary bid to democratize Myanmar constitution a ‘positive development’ says UN rights expert

South Sudan: ‘Horrific acts’ by government may constitute ‘war crimes’ says UN, demanding justice

Contact the Sting

Four ways we can fix economics in 2019

EU Budget: InvestEU Programme to support jobs, growth and innovation in Europe

Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

More Stings?

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