On 3 December 2015, something truly remarkable happened. An unprecedented alliance of key players from within the buildings and construction industry – from politicians and city majors, to business leaders and civil society representatives, including WorldGBC – gathered in Paris, France, at COP21, the UN’s now widely-celebrated climate change negotiations.
Our mission? To tell the world that buildings have a key part to play in tackling climate change and that growth in the sector need not come at the expense of the environment… in fact, quite the opposite: that the industry can flourish through more innovative and responsible approaches that address climate change, and that green buildings offer a range of additional benefits, from improving people’s health to creating more cohesive communities.
Did we succeed? Our work at COP certainly amplified the collective voice of the green building industry, and strengthened the message that buildings can be the hero of the climate change story.
In the run-up to and during COP21, our Better Build Green campaign was shared widely, in a number of different languages across social media; the hashtag #BuildingsDay ‘trended’ on Twitter during December 3 (with WorldGBC’s own tweets generating 35,000 impressions on the day); and there were more than 50 global media mentions for WorldGBC, Green Building Councils and their corporate members, who made commitments at Paris.
This success was a real testament to the efforts of all those involved – the Green Building Councils who supported Better Build Green and Buildings Day, and who spread the message to their networks; the initiating partners behind Buildings Day especially France and UNEP; the businesses and countries who joined the new Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction that was established on Buildings Day; the media who covered the day; and the online community which helped generate widespread interest.
I believe the excitement generated around Buildings Day, like that around other ‘action agendas’ on renewables, transport and cities, helped contribute to the groundswell that ultimately led to the final Paris Agreement. This drives home the power and importance of communicating what we do. Climate change is a challenge that exists in the real, physical world. But it’s also a major communications challenge, that exists in hearts and minds. At a time when multiple and complex issues compete for our attention and understanding, we must make sure that climate change – and the positive role that green building can play in tackling it – is also heard.
Upon joining WorldGBC in June last year, one of my first priorities was to ramp up our communications offering. We appointed a new Marketing & Communications Manager, held sessions at our annual Congress on how to tell our story and communicate more effectively, and got down to work on the Better Build Green campaign.
Our new blog platform which we’ve launched today is just one part of our ongoing commitment to better communicate the importance of and benefits of our mission. It will provide a global platform for Green Building Councils and other leading voices in our movement to tell the world how their leadership and action is delivering real impact and change. I for one, can’t wait to read about it.
If you’re interested in writing a piece for us, please contact James Kershaw.
Terri Wills is CEO at the World Green Building Council