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A sustainable built environment reduces or eliminates negative impacts and creates positive impacts for the natural environment, economies, human health and equity.

Through their entire lifecycle — design, construction, operation and end of life — sustainable or ‘green’ buildings and infrastructure can address three key impact areas of the built environment: climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity.

Sustainable built environments accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  • Efficient use of energy, water and other resources
  • Use of renewable energy, such as solar energy
  • Pollution and waste reduction measures, and the enabling of re-use and recycling
  • Good indoor environmental air quality
  • Use of materials that are non-toxic and produced in an environmentally and socially sustainable way
  • Consideration of the environment in design, construction and operation
  • Consideration of the quality of life of occupants in design, construction and operation
  • A design that enables adaptation to a changing climate

Any building can be a sustainable building, but not all sustainable buildings are the same.

Different countries and regions have distinctive climatic conditions, unique cultures and traditions, diverse building types and ages, or wide-ranging environmental, economic and social priorities. This diversity shapes the variety of approaches to sustainable building.

This is why WorldGBC advocates for a holistic, systemic approach and supports its member Green Building Councils to pursue approaches that are best suited to their own country and markets.

By 2050, the global population will increase 27% to 9.8 billion, and the world’s building stock will double, catapulting all of the environmental, social and economic impacts associated with the built environment. 

Not only are sustainable built environments a critical solution to climate change, they also help create resilient, thriving communities, and drive economic growth.

Collectively, the World Green Building Council network is transforming the building and construction sector across three impact areas — climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity. Find out more about our Impact Areas.

Climate Action

  • 2030 Goal: All new buildings, infrastructure and renovations will have 40% less embodied carbon with significant upfront carbon reduction, and all new buildings are net zero operational carbon
  • 2050 Goal: New buildings, infrastructure and renovations will have net zero embodied carbon, and all buildings, including existing buildings, must be net zero operational carbon

Advancing Net Zero is WorldGBC’s global climate action programme, accelerating the uptake of Net Zero Carbon Buildings to 100% by 2050.

Health & Wellbeing 

  • 2030 Goal: Substantial improvement in public health and wellbeing through the development of a sustainable built environment across all types of new and existing buildings, with a focus on quality housing for all. Improvements achieved through the reduction of air, soil and water pollution and implementation of health-based urban planning
  • 2050 Goal: Transformative, restorative improvements in public health and wellbeing through the development of a sustainable built environment across all types of new and existing buildings, with a focus on quality housing for all. Elimination of air, soil and water pollution from the built environment. Sustainable urban planning advances healthy, equitable and resilient communities

Better Places For People is WorldGBC’s global programme transforming health and wellbeing in the built environment.

Resources and Circularity

  • 2030 Goal: The sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources within the built environment, achieving zero waste to landfill targets and working towards a built environment with net zero whole life resource depletion
  • 2050 Goal: A built environment with net zero whole life resource depletion, working towards restoration of resources and natural systems within a thriving circular economy

Circularity Accelerator is WorldGBC’s global programme to drive the adoption of circular economy and resource efficiency in the building and construction sector.