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Czech Green Building Council joins #BuildingLife in leading the way to a carbon neutral Europe

World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is proud to announce that the Czech Green Building Council (CZGBC) has joined WorldGBC’s project #BuildingLife to pave the way to a carbon neutral Europe. To support the mission, CZGBC, supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund, is preparing a Whole-life Zero Carbon Roadmap for the building sector – a fundamental guide for all actors to help achieve a carbon neutral built environment in the Czech lands.

The Paris climate agreement, signed by 195 countries, stipulates that global warming must be limited ideally to less than 1.5 degrees. Decarbonisation of buildings is critical to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change we are currently witnessing. “The construction industry, although undergoing fundamental changes, is still one of the biggest polluters. It has a massive environmental footprint consuming half of globally extracted materials and for about one third of solid waste generated and water used. The sector is responsible for up to 38 percent of global CO2 emissions. Approximately ten percent of these emissions are released before a building is occupied, i.e. during the production and transport of building materials and during the construction process itself. The remaining part, 28 percent of emissions, is generated during the operation of buildings,” said Simona Kalvoda, Executive Director of the Czech Green Building Council. 

#BuildingLife is a WorldGBC led campaign spearheaded by ten European Green Building Councils (GBCs) – Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK., which feeds into the concept of assessing and reducing life cycle impacts as pursued by the EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance and by the EU Level(s) Initiative. It has received funding from the IKEA Foundation and Laudes Foundation as well as from EBRD and the European Climate Foundation. National roadmaps, developed in these ten countries, are already catalysing industry action and political change. By joining the campaign, CZGBC will drive forwards the impacts of #BuildingLife into a new and important European market, helping to boost European advocacy on whole life carbon.

The EU Green Deal stipulates that Europe will become a carbon-neutral continent by 2050. The way to achieve this goal for buildings will be laid out in the Zero Carbon Roadmap, which CZGBC is working on with the support of the TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund and the WorldGBC.  The “Roadmap” will be launched in the beginning of 2024.

Stephen Richardson, Director of the European Regional Network, WorldGBC, said:

“We are proud to add CZGBC to the ten other countries who have joined the #BuildingLife project. A climate neutral Europe cannot be achieved unless we address the total impact of the built environment, tackling operational and embodied carbon together in a whole life cycle approach.

“#BuildingLife is the most ambitious project that WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network has taken on. And with CZGBC on board, its scope and impact will be even bigger! The project has already helped put the whole life carbon of the built environment on centre stage in European policy debates and increased industry awareness and action in ten countries. I’m inspired by the energy and leadership that Simona and the CZGBC team have shown to prepare for this important work and delighted that we can once again partner with EBRD to deliver such a mission-critical resource for the Czech built environment sector.”

“From the production of the materials and the fuels we use during construction, to the energy used to heat, light and power offices and homes, all of this must be reduced if we take seriously the commitment contained in the Paris Agreement,” Simona Kalvoda said. The roadmap will bring together  all stakeholders across the value chain, i.e. government and local authorities, developers, investors and building owners, planners and architects, manufacturers of building materials and technologies, building managers, financial institutions, NGOs and academia, and will help them to develop actions, recommendations and approaches for achieving whole-life decarbonisation of the sector and across the value chain. The process will also benefit from input of EBRD’s client network, which will also be a direct beneficiary of the capacity building developed actions. The roadmap will generate recommendations in the areas of setting the overall legislative framework for sustainable building, available financing mechanisms, as well as changes to the education system, improving qualifications and public awareness. Thanks to the roadmap, Czech Companies right across the built environment value chain can get inspired to develop their own carbon neutrality strategy. 

Construction and buildings in general represent a sector with long lifetimes, with many buildings lasting many decades or sometimes even centuries. New buildings must meet certain energy performance standards, which are gradually being tightened. The EU proposal foresees that from 2030 only zero-emission buildings will be allowed to be built. Older buildings need to be renovated. In the Czech Republic, the average age of residential buildings is 50 years. It is assumed that 80% of the existing building stock will still be there in 30 years, i.e. still in 2050, for which the commitments are set out in the Paris Agreement. 

According to estimates, a building undergoes renovation every 20 to 30 years. By 2050, owners of all types of buildings will face one major or more partial renovations. However, it is important to ensure that renovations are carried out efficiently and that they build on each other. “It is necessary to focus on renovations, promote their high standard as well as the use of low carbon products and materials and to assist all owners in their implementation. At the same time we need legislative barriers, to provide advice, and offer possibilities of their financing. To achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement, it is necessary to accelerate the pace of renovations in the Czech Republic by two to three times,” said Simona Kalvoda. Currently, only less than 1% of existing buildings are renovated annually and not all renovations are sufficiently deep. 

CZGBC will be working with all stakeholders across the built environment value chain to develop the roadmap and interested businesses, political leaders and researchers are encouraged to get involved and support the roadmap’s development and implementation.

Find out more about #BuildingLife here.