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The role of buildings at COP23

The World Green Building Council joined business leaders and policy makers at the COP23 climate change conference, in Bonn, Germany, to urge governments to work in coordination with companies, cities and communities to decarbonise the building and construction sector, and raise the ambition of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) which countries have submitted under the Paris Agreement.

As nations are set to agree on a “rulebook” for implementing the Paris Agreement, WorldGBC and urban experts agreed that increased coordination and collaborative efforts from all stakeholders and sectors involved in human settlements is essential for success.

The Human Settlements Day, held on Saturday 11 November, brought into sharp perspective the urgent action required to achieve both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal 11, to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Urban areas account for between 37 per cent and 49 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings alone are responsible for some 40 per cent of global emissions, yet are an essential element for countries to achieve their NDCs. A total of 132 of the 164 NDCs submitted explicitly mention the building sector. If these NDC pledges were achieved in addition to existing action, about 60 per cent of buildings-related CO2 emissions would be covered. However, nearly one-third of NDCs mentioning buildings do not indicate specific actions on how to achieve their ambition. WorldGBC were among key organisations including UNHabitat urging governments to include measures targeting buildings, in particular measures to improve energy efficiency for both new and existing buildings, in order to achieve their NDCs.

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said:

“Over the coming years net zero carbon buildings will be essential in helping countries achieve their nationally determined contributions.”

The Human Settlement Day saw members of the Global Alliance for Buildings & Construction, of which WorldGBC is a member and on its Interim Steering Committee, gather together to make recommendations to increase resource-efficient and resilient construction practices, as well as creative people-centred financial mechanisms.

WorldGBC and a number of Green Building Councils, including DGNB, DutchGBC, USGBC and KenyaGBC, also played a key role in the ‘Buildings Day’ at COP23, a full day focused on the role of buildings in combatting climate change. Held last Thursday at the offices of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), it included sessions on how green buildings can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of net zero carbon buildings and how to access the necessary finance for the transition for a zero carbon building sector.

To see a summary of recommendations from Buildings Day (Building Action Symposium) click here.

To read the UNFCCC press release on Human Settlements Day, including a direct quote from WorldGBC, click here.

Find out more about WorldGBC’s global Advancing Net Zero programme.