The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment) recognises leadership action by businesses, organisations, cities and subnational governments in tackling operational and embodied carbon emissions from the building and construction sector.
This requires deep collaboration across the entire value chain, and radical transformation in the way buildings are designed, built, occupied and deconstructed. It requires new business models that promote circularity, re-use of buildings and materials, whole life cycle thinking, high performance operations, and ultimately a shift away from fossil fuels.
The Commitment considers the whole lifecycle impact of buildings and builds on WorldGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Vision and best practice principles for implementation.
The Commitment requires that by 2030:
- Existing buildings reduce their energy consumption and eliminate emissions from energy and refrigerants removing fossil fuel use as fast as practicable (where applicable). Where necessary, compensate for residual emissions.
- New developments and major renovations are built to be highly efficient, powered by renewables, with a maximum reduction in embodied carbon and compensation of all residual upfront emissions.
A reduction first, outcomes based approach to decarbonisation.
The Commitment promotes a reduction first, outcomes based approach — allowing the flexibility for signatories to develop a bespoke action plan for their specific portfolio profile based on best practice principles towards reducing both consumption and emissions, with annual reporting of verified progress towards decarbonisation goals.
Through gathering data to inform low carbon choices, relevant benchmarks and targets can be set, best practice methods incorporated, associated costs reduced, and greater uptake enabled — accelerating market transformation and leading to significant sector emissions reductions.
WorldGBC advocates for halving emissions of the building and construction sector by 2030 and the total decarbonisation of the sector by 2050. As we transition, we also recognise the value of offsets as a means to compensate for and neutralise the impacts of the sector, and to facilitate positive social and environmental impact in pursuit of overall net zero emissions.
In recognition of the link to improving energy productivity in buildings, the Commitment is recognised as a pathway to membership of EP100 for eligible businesses. Signatories must opt-in and there is a fee associated with membership.
Find out more on the Resources & Further Guidance page.
Why Whole Life Carbon?
In order to prevent and mitigate embodied emissions, increase resource efficiency and stimulate the development and market supply of low carbon products, the sector must (1) reduce and account for its impact on the environment and natural resources through design and construction, and (2) generate a strong and urgent demand signal to activate the necessary finance to decarbonise materials, construction and heavy industry processes.
As this is a global challenge requiring local solutions, the Commitment is outcomes focused and action based, allowing for creative and flexible solutions at asset and portfolio level based on best practice application.
Theory of Change: Advancing Net Zero
Advancing net zero emissions is a journey and an integral part of a wider systemic shift towards a more sustainable built environment. As part of the transition towards total sector decarbonisation, WorldGBC advocates for a holistic approach to sustainability that also enables tangible environmental and social co-benefits in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Signatories to the Commitment are advancing net zero by facilitating and accelerating market transformation. Their commitment represents a leadership position within the buildings and construction sector in taking action further and faster to decarbonise the built environment. Through this action, we seek to engender sector transformation that will allow mainstream actors to achieve the goals set out within WorldGBC’s Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere strategy.