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70 countries have laid foundations for a rapid, fair and effective building sector transition — let’s build on this momentum

13 March 2024
Cristina Gamboa


Last week, I had the honour of representing the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) and our global network at the Buildings and Climate Global Forum (BCGF) in Paris. The Forum gathered Ministers and high-level representatives to drive momentum for building decarbonisation and climate resilience post-COP28. 

On 8 March, the Forum saw the launch of the Déclaration de Chaillot, supported by 70 countries. The Déclaration expands on the Buildings Breakthrough initiative, launched at COP28, which sets the goal of making “near-zero-emission and resilient buildings the new normal by 2030”.

On the same day the Buildings Breakthrough 2024–25 priority actions were also announced which focus on: Standards and Certifications, Demand Creation, Finance and Investment, Research and Deployment, and Capacity and Skills. The relevance of this agenda was highlighted in the stakeholder plenary facilitated by WorldGBC at the BCGF.  

We welcome this much needed political commitment for building decarbonisation and climate resilience, which aims to reinforce international collaboration, and calls for more ambitious commitments from governments, state and non-state actors across the building and construction sector.


Initiatives that are already leading the way

The Déclaration de Chaillot sees national governments acknowledge the importance of accelerating the decarbonisation of the building and construction sector in line with long-term global climate goals.

Crucially, the Déclaration sees Ministers making a number of commitments including the implementation of building decarbonisation roadmaps and codes; promotion of labels, standards and certifications; and the implementation of financial frameworks which stress the importance of using local knowledge to improve skills.

To deliver on these welcomed ambitions we need tangible guidance and local networks — but fortunately these already exist.

Two of WorldGBC’s established climate action programmes are already delivering the goals of the Déclaration, and are officially recognised as key initiatives supporting the delivery of the Buildings Breakthrough#BuildingLife and the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment). 


Leading policy action

For industry to deliver on the Déclaration and its commitment to implement decarbonisation roadmaps, they need clear guidance — which can already be found through the #BuildingLife Whole Life Carbon Roadmaps, co-created by members of the entire building sector value chain. 

#BuildingLife is an initiative led by WorldGBC, and driven by 12 European Green Building Councils (GBCs). The project is working to deliver on the EU Green Deal with the aim of delivering a climate neutral Europe by 2050, working to eliminate both the operational and embodied carbon — ‘Whole Life Carbon’ (WLC) — impact of buildings.

The participating GBCs also work with industry to build accountability and positive demand to deliver on the goals and recommendations of their roadmaps.

In Europe, #BuildingLife has helped advance WLC policy development at both national and EU level, as well as bringing WLC action into the mainstream across 12 countries to date. The project has also helped leverage almost €60 million in national and EU funds to tackle WLC. 

Before #BuildingLife there was almost no debate on WLC in EU policy dialogue, but now three years on, the European Parliament has approved plans to introduce WLC reporting for all new buildings from 2030, paving the way for the introduction of WLC targets thereafter. 

WorldGBC is already working with GBCs on the next steps which will involve collaborating with national policymakers on the crucial implementation phase of this new EU legislation, which you can read more about here. WorldGBC is also deploying across its global network the #BuildingLife project to leverage other roadmaps delivered by GBCs as well as our Zero Carbon and Climate Resilience Readiness Framework. 

There is no doubt that #BuildingLife is delivering on the goals of the Déclaration de Chaillot and Buildings Breakthrough by creating awareness among stakeholders and politicians of the benefits to introducing WLC policy; as well as delivering the roadmaps and other tools to facilitate implementation at scale. 

Find out more about the first three years of #BuildingLife. 


Leading industry action

Our Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment promotes leadership action from businesses, organisations, cities and subnational governments who are already tackling operational and embodied carbon emissions from the building and construction sector. 

To date, the Commitment has 180 signatories, representing around 20,000 assets, 7.2 million tonnes CO2e, and $400 billion in annual turnover.


Some examples of this leading industry action can be seen through: 

  • Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) a net zero emissions business, with the aim to become a net zero business without offsets by 2030. 
  • Africa Logistics Properties (ALP), who have achieved more than 41% average energy savings across their business portfolio, and 55% less embodied energy in materials. 
  • Hibernia’s refurbishment of 1 Cumberland Place, Dublin, which resulted in more than a 63% reduction in rated primary energy demand and embodied carbon footprint estimated to be 66% lower than that of a new office building. This supports Hibernia’s goal of becoming a net zero carbon and climate resilient business by 2030.


These signatories are just a small example of the companies already well on the way to deliver the goals of the Déclaration de Chaillot and the Buildings Breakthrough in a manner aligned with WorldGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Vision.

They are also sending a clear signal to other industry leaders that occupying, developing, and owning highly energy-efficient buildings with a low carbon footprint is possible, whilst taking into account a whole life cycle assessment approach.


Getting aligned on alignment

There was much talk at last week’s Forum on the topic of building codes, standards, assessment frameworks, and certification schemes. We ourselves provided leadership in convening an expert panel session on harmonising policies to achieve WLC and resilient building goals. With more and more parts of the value chain, and beyond, calling for an internationally recognised definition of a “net-zero” building, we need to remember the value of cultural richness, diversity and regional context. 

A key tool to help us all get on the same page is, again, National Decarbonisation and Resilience Roadmaps, which give clarity to the market on next steps and leaves space for recognising the relevancy of local priorities and nuances.

Find out more in my latest thought leadership on how we can align the unalignable. 


How you can get involved


At WorldGBC, we call on governments to start implementing the recommendations as set out in your national building decarbonisation roadmaps. You can find the #BuildingLife WLC Roadmaps here from 12 European countries, and you can also reach out to your local Green Building Council to find out more about building WLC roadmaps in your country. We also encourage governments to increase their national target setting, and align with a trajectory for WLC by 2050 that helps boost and sustain building renovation and resource efficiency.

WorldGBC’s Global Policy Principles for a Sustainable Built Environment provides an excellent starting point, offering a holistic framework for updating your building policies.


We call on industry to transparently demonstrate that they are taking relevant actions highlighted in decarbonisation roadmaps, and leverage leadership to hold policymakers and market laggards to account.

Companies should begin assessing and reporting the life cycle emissions of products and buildings according to accepted international standards, and use this to accelerate materials reduction, the uptake of circular solutions, and low carbon products. 


Governments and Industry:

Industry and governments alike should join our Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to demonstrate their advanced climate leadership and encourage others to follow suit. 

Green Building Councils all over the world are available to support governments, industry and the finance sector to advance the climate action agenda. 

Just as the 70 countries who signed the Déclaration have sent a clear signal of their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, I hope that the momentum generated by the Buildings & Climate Global Forum will inspire and provoke an acceleration in action from all players right across the building value chain.