World Green Building Week
Did you know that buildings contribute to climate change? They account for over a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But that can change.
When buildings are net zero they use clean energy, are highly efficient and don’t waste energy - helping us to win the fight against climate change. That makes them heroes. Let’s make all buildings net zero by 2050.
World Green Building Week, 25 September to 1 October 2017, is an annual event that empowers the green building community to deliver green buildings for everyone, everywhere. Buildings can be heroes in the fight against climate change - and so can you.
Net zero buildings are highly energy-efficient buildings which generate or supply the energy they need to operate from renewable sources – like solar energy - to achieve net zero carbon emissions. They are the homes, offices, shops, stadiums and theatres of the future.
But net zero buildings aren’t only about carbon emissions and energy. We recognise that the term “net zero” can be applied to water and waste, and can be used in reference to these during the operation of a building (e.g. operating emissions) or across the whole lifecycle of a building, from the extraction of raw materials to deconstruction and disposal (e.g. emboded carbon).
Our report From Thousands to Billions, includes more information on the definition of net zero buildings. Read it here.
If we continue to emit greenhouse gases at current rates, we are headed for a world where global temperature rises will exceed two degrees. Keeping the temperature rise below two degrees, within the limits set out in the Paris Agreement, means we avoid the most extreme impacts of climate change.
In order to achieve this target, we have set two goals:
- All new buildings must operate at net zero carbon from 2030
- 100% of buildings – new and existing - must operate at net zero carbon by 2050
We recognise that this is not easy and will not happen over night, and we applaud all efforts on green buildings – not just those on net zero - that help us on our journey to a net zero carbon built environment by 2050.
In Europe for example, countries must legally ensure that all new buildings occupied and owned by public authorities are “nearly zero energy” from 2019 onwards. In this region, the debate has focused on “nearly zero energy buildings” as opposed to strictly net zero carbon buildings. But nearly zero energy buildings are a critical step towards achieving the 2050 target. For more information on nearly zero energy buildings, see this European Commission guidance.
Our report From Thousands to Billions includes more information on why we must ensure every building is net zero emissions by 2050.
There are currently only around 500 commerical net zero buildings (e.g. offices) and 2,000 net zero homes around the world – less than 1 per cent of all buildings. But we need all buildings – literally billions – to be net zero by the year 2050. The current global building stock of 223 billion square meters, is projected to almost double to 415 billion square meters by 2050, adding to this challenge.
Furthermore, current renovation rates amount to less than one per cent of existing buildings each year. To achieve universal net zero carbon buildings by 2050, renovation rates must increase by 3 per cent every year starting in 2017, and must accelerate for every year of delay.
There are some great examples of net zero buildings – and those striving towards becoming net zero – in our report From Thousands to Billions. From the zet zero energy and carbon office building, the Bullitt Center in Seattle, US, to the Maison Ile de France student accommodation in Paris, France, see them here.
We are also using real case studies of net zero buildings or buildings on the journey to becoming net zero in the visuals for World Green Building Week. These include:
The Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, which is a net positive stadium. Only 10 per cent of the energy it generates through its solar photovoltaic power plant is required to power the stadium. The remaining 90 per cent is distributed to the surrounding community, to about 1,200 houses. The stadium is certified LEED NC Platinum.
The Barangaroo development in Sydney, Australia, by Lendlease. This aims to be world’s first high-density carbon neutral development in operation. Strategies towards achieving this include chilled water and harbour cooling system; on-site solar energy generation; off-site renewable energy facility; and carbon offset projects utilised to offset residual onsite carbon emissions. Barangaroo achieved 6-Star Green Star – Office Design v3 certification, and is a participant in the Climate Positive Development Program.
Buildings are often seen as the villains when it comes to climate change, but they can actually be the heroes; heroes who like us, care about our future.
They’re called net zero buildings, and every step we take to make our buildings get close to net zero is important.
This World Green Building Week we’re encouraging people everywhere to see the faces of the heroes in the buildings where they live and work and to join us in the mission to make all buildings net zero. In this fight, our hero is zero.
The hero theme is reflected in the range of resources available to download here.
There are many ways to make buildings, whether homes, offices, factories or schools, greener. Visit the “How to make buildings green” page on our website to find out the multiple ways to do so.
You can also contact or visit the website of your local Green Building Council for more information. Find out if there is a GBC in your country by visiting the Member Directory on our website.
- Add your hero actions to our map by completing this form.
- Join our Thunderclap social media campaign.
- Share these graphics with your network on social media.
Sample posts for each image (available to download here):
Here’s a hero we can all look up to image: Aiming high on net zero by going carbon neutral - now that's what we call heroic. #OurHeroIsZero #WGBW2017 http://bit.ly/wgbw17
The cape-less crusader image: You don’t have to look like a hero to be one. For #WGBW2017 let's stand with net zero buildings. #OurHeroIsZero http://bit.ly/wgbw17
This building has a secret. It’s a climate hero, image: Buildings that use clean energy can help us save the planet #OurHeroIsZero Learn. Share. Lead. #WGBW2017 http://bit.ly/wgbw17
Don’t mind me, I’m just saving the world, image: Net zero buildings are the unexpected heroes. For #WGBW2017 Fight climate change & stand with #OurHeroIsZero http://bit.ly/wgbw17
With the right players on our side, we can win the fight against climate change, image: With net zero buildings on our team, we can win the fight. #OurHeroIsZero Learn. Share. Lead. #WGBW2017 http://bit.ly/wgbw17
Throughout history, powerful changes have happened when people have come together. Our goal to make all buildings net zero by 2050 is big, but it’s possible, and we need your help to get there.
- Host a Net Zero Open House event in your community.
- Get our How To Guide, to learn all the ways you can be a hero for zero.
- Join your local Green Building Council.