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How sustainable buildings are #BuildingResilience and driving the Sustainable Development Goals

In a year of disruption, it would be easier to focus on the challenges.

But the pandemic also highlights opportunities – opportunities to tackle the climate crisis, promote human health and equity and strengthen our economies. And building resilience doesn’t happen in a silo or through a singular approach.

As the UNFCCC and #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition works to bring resilience to the forefront of the climate agenda, we as a green building network have an opportunity. This World Green Building Week we will shine a light on how our holistic approach to building resilience can accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere.

Why is building resilience important?

Buildings are responsible for 38% of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50% of all extracted materials.

Four billion people are vulnerable to climate risks and 91% of people worldwide live in areas with air pollution. By 2050, the world’s building stock will double, increasing the impact of our sector significantly. Its demand on natural resources accelerates climate change, and inefficient, unhealthy buildings are affecting our livelihoods.

To close the environmental, social and economic gaps and protect our planet, people and economies, we must embrace a holistic approach to sustainability. We must work towards systemic changes that provide powerful solutions to climate change, improve human health and equity and drive a circular, regenerative economy.

#BuildingResilience to Climate Change

A resilient built environment combats climate change by enabling affordable and clean energy. It also accelerates the adaptation to, and mitigation of the impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable regions and communities.

  • In September 2021, the WorldGBC expanded the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to include whole life carbon emissions. To accompany the Commitment update and its reduction-first approach to decarbonisation, WorldGBC has also published Advancing Net Zero Whole Life Carbon: Offsetting Residual Emissions from the Building and Construction Sector, providing guidance for how the sector should compensate for its total carbon impacts.
  • Tackling the energy efficiency of our existing buildings is a key part of decarbonising the built environment. The BUILD UPON2 project is working with over 30 cities in eight countries across Europe to give local governments the tools to measure the environmental, economic and social impact of their renovation schemes.
  • In Latin America, the Cities Climate Action Project is delivering better building efficiency policies in cities. The project uses a proven framework created through the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) to help city governments, private companies and NGOs work together to deliver energy efficiency in buildings at scale.
    • ​As a result, four policies for increased building efficiency have been approved in the cities of Bogota and Monteria in Colombia, and at the state level in Campeche and Yucatan in Mexico. Another ten policies are currently in development across Latin America.


#BuildingResilience for People

he social dimensions of a resilient built environment can future-proof communities by addressing equity and climate justice issues. They can provide healthy environments and fairer access to vital social infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and green spaces.

  • Through the Better Places for People project, WorldGBC has launched the Health and Wellbeing Framework, which offers a comprehensive educational tool for a healthy and equitable built environment.
    • With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the link between the built environment and human health into focus, the Framework’s six principles span climate change resilience, indoor air quality, human rights in the supply chain and more.
  • WorldGBC has also launched a global campaign for better air quality in the built environment. Plant a Sensor is mobilising businesses and organisations to measure and share air pollution in and outside of buildings. The data from the sensors is collected in an interactive map where stakeholders can share learnings and solutions to tackling air pollution in the built environment.


#BuildingResilience for Economies

A resilient built environment grows green jobs and supports the regeneration of resources and natural systems, providing socio-economic benefit through a thriving circular economy.

  • The #BuildingLife project aims to demonstrate how the built environment sector can play a key role in reaching the EU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The project has established groups to develop an EU Policy Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the buildings sector, as well as national whole life carbon roadmaps in ten countries.


What is World Green Building Week?

World Green Building Week is the world’s largest campaign to accelerate sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere. Organised by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), it is led by our global network of 70 Green Building Councils and their 36,000 members.

Join us from the 20th–24th of September 2021 to find out how our network is accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals towards an inclusive and resilient net zero built environment.