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Building a better Bogotá

Bogotá is the biggest city in Colombia and it’s growing fast. The city’s current population of 8 million people is expected to become 11 million by 2030, and 13 million by 2050. This growth will lead to a doubling of the number of households in the city – some 3 million by the middle of the century – and with this a far greater consumption of energy and water in those buildings.

Thankfully, there is a solution. And it comes in the form of a programme on which the Colombia Green Building Council (CCCS) is playing a major role.

The UN’s Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) – led by the World Resources Institute – has an overarching commitment to double the rate of energy efficiency in buildings by 2030. It will achieve this by providing cities like Bogotá with access to global expertise on building efficiency and offering engagement and partnerships with businesses active in this area.

CCCS is delighted to have been selected by the Mayor of Bogotá Enrique Peñalosa and WRI to develop the BEA programme for Bogotá. Our experience and technical expertise in sustainable construction and urban planning over the last decade, plus our strong partnerships within the private and public sectors in Colombia, means we are ideally placed to help the city overcome the challenges to greater efficiency.

And there are significant challenges. Current policies encouraging energy and water efficiency in the city are being implemented but not properly verified. Introducing verification will ensure that those who do not meet required standards on energy and water are identified, while those who go beyond, are rewarded. Given the relative adolescence of green practices in this area in Bogotá, making policies which are both feasible and that have the correct verification will create the right incentives needed to shift the market towards greener behaviour.

It was deeply encouraging that the Mayor of Bogotá recently signed an Action Plan at our conference Construverde 2017 that mandates a percentage of water and energy saving in new buildings in Bogotá. Critically, the plan also defines targets for 2018 for a monitoring, reporting and verification mechanism. This is vital in that it will make sure that everyone involved complies, and will track the improvement of targets on water and energy reductions over time, and introduce incentives.

Mayor Enrique Peñalosa said: “The goal of achieving a more sustainable and environmentally friendly city is fundamental given the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the commitments made in the Paris Agreement and the vision of sustainability in Bogotá. Our objective is to improve the citizens quality of life while contributing towards the city’s goal of reducing its urban footprint, and increasing its resilience to climate change and climate variability.”

A pilot project has also been established which intends to have a positive impact on the rest of the city. The Partial Triangle Plan of Fenicia is a renovation project in Downtown Bogotá that is promoted by Universidad de los Andes (because it surrounds the campus) and the local government. It aims to be an “emblematic project” in water and energy efficiency in buildings in a beautiful but deprived area of the city. The project will cover eight hectares of the city, with close to 120,000 square meters of new construction, and is hoped to reduce carbon emissions and save water, demonstrating to other cities the way forward in delivering green change in urban spaces.

Partnerships have been key to reaching this stage in the progamme. Different stakeholders possess expertise within their own fields of work: builders know about design and construction standards, public organisations understand policies, and financial entities have expertise on incentives. Strong leadership is also crucial to ensure all stakeholders come together to deliver on their areas. Having the support of the Mayor’s office enables the programme to have the traction it needs to create effective actions and drive progress.

CCCS is proud to be playing such a major role in the BEA programme and working closely with all those organisations involved. Together we can build a better Bogotá and ensure it is equipped to overcome the challenges ahead. Soon we’ll be announcing the commitment of the Metropolitan Area of the Valley Aburrá, (Área Metropolitana del Valle de Aburrá).

Cristina Gamboa is CEO of Colombia Green Building Council. For more information about WorldGBC’s participation in the Building Efficiency Accelerator, click here.