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

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

Parlamentarians to “break up” with reality in the Google antitrust case

EU’s guidelines on net neutrality see the light although grey areas do remain

The US banks drive the developing world to a catastrophe

“Health and environment first of all”, EU says with forced optimism after 7th round of TTIP talks

Germany readies to pay for the Brexit gap in EU finance

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: UNFCCC Secretariat Launches Forest Information Hub

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

Ukrainian civil war: Is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

Turkey to let EU alone struggle with the migrant crisis while enhancing its economic ties with Russia instead?

IQ scores have been falling for decades, new study finds

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

EU-Turkey relations: Will Turkey manage to revive the EU accession process talks?

Armenia should take vigorous measures against entrenched corruption

Virtual Doctor: a core part of modern healthcare?

‘Jerusalem is not for sale’ Palestinian President Abbas tells world leaders at UN Assembly

G20 LIVE: G20 Leaders’ Communiqué Antalya Summit, 15-16 November 2015

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

World response to AIDS epidemic at a ‘critical juncture’

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Time is running out to protect Africa’s forests

EU Commission: Growth first then fiscal consolidation

Plastic Oceans: MEPs back EU ban on polluting throwaway plastics by 2021

Chinese economy to raise speed and help the world grow

Why social working cultures are happier and more productive

Remembering Kofi Annan

Half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14

EU to increase spending and improve delivery of education in emergencies and protracted crises

An alternative view of Globalization 4.0, and how to get there

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

The movement of anti-vaccers: taking humanity back 200 years

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Europe turns out more jobs this summer

Politics still matter in the US but not in Europe

Mali: Presidential elections critical to consolidate democracy, says UN peacekeeping chief

Youth and Participation: are the people rising up in Spain? 


Legal Manager – 2050

How to provide health education and thus create better health systems

Road injuries leading cause of death for the young, despite safety gains: UN report

UN condemns ‘heinous’ suicide attack on education centre in Afghanistan

The shrinking Arctic ice protects us all. It’s time to act

New skills needed for medical students in Industry 4.0

Transition between education and employment: how the internship culture is threatening the foundations of our education

Eurozone: Retail sales and inflation point to recession

Why do medical curricula shouldn’t neglect the Sustainable Development Goals

Why medicine is relevant to the battle against climate change

Fisheries: Commission proposes measures to conserve stocks of deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic

Syria: Guterres concerned over reported attacks in Idlib, calls for ‘full investigation’

Discovering Europe: Free EU rail pass for 18 year olds

Want a fairer society? This economist says he has the answer

The banks first to benefit from the new euro trillion ECB plans to print

These European countries produce the most plastic waste per person

Storms and snow in Lebanon worsen plight for Syrian refugees

Better protection against non-cash payment fraud

Can big events really go plastic-free? A water capsule made from seaweed may be the answer

‘Collective amnesia’ over causes of global financial crash – human rights expert

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

UN chief appoints Luis Alfonso de Alba as Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit

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