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We are living in a period of environmental breakdown: a climate emergency, mass biodiversity loss, pollution, extinction, the over-utilisation of natural resources and a global waste crisis.


Worldwide, buildings are responsible for around 40% of energy and process-related CO2  emissions, 50% of all extracted materials, 33% of water consumption and 35% of generated waste. Other environmental impacts include resource depletion; air, water and land pollution and biodiversity loss.

By 2050, the global population will increase 27% to 9.8 billion, and by 2060 global building floor area is expected to double, catapulting all of the environmental, social and economic impacts associated with the built environment. 

With such a significant impact, it is critical that the built environment plays its part in delivering the transformative change needed to decarbonise our global economy. 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 strategy ‘Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere’ and Our Mission

The World Green Building Council global network is driving the building and construction sector’s transition towards our mission of sustainable built environments for everyone, everywhere – which we define through our three Impact Areas.

A sustainable built environment protects and enhances people, places and the natural environment, and is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling the climate crisis. 

Environmental priorities are balanced alongside socio-economic development, including economic growth, human health and equity. This holistic approach to sustainable development should be applied throughout the entire lifecycle of a building — from material sourcing, to design, construction, operation and end of life.

Our approach to sustainability in the built environment  incorporates numerous focus areas to provide a holistic scope that aligns with the targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.  

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.

However, the following principles are consistent standards of best practice in sustainability in the built environment across all geographies: 

Accelerating climate action through:

  • Energy efficiency, by reducing demand for energy through highly efficient built assets
  • Net zero whole life carbon, working to eliminate carbon emissions across the lifecycle of all buildings and mainstream the utilisation of renewable energy sources
  • Resilience and adaptation to climate change, by future proofing homes and communities, enhancing their ability to respond to environmental, social & economic change – with a focus on current and future climate change impacts
  • Driving the clean energy transition, by supporting the phase-out of fossil fuels and the transition to a highly efficient, renewable energy-powered, all electric grid

Protect and enhance health, equity and resilience through:

  • Health and wellbeing, by tackling energy poverty, indoor environmental quality and pollution
  • Positive social impact, by maintaining equity across all stages of the supply chain, and recognising community values (including cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge)
  • Just transition, prioritising an equitable phase towards green jobs and mobilisation of sustainable finance and economies

Regenerate resources and advance circularity through:

  • Minimising material use and waste through a circular economy, with a focus on asset reuse and retrofit
  • Regenerating nature and ecosystem services – with a focus on water
  • Taking a systems-based approach, recognising the role of infrastructure and community and city level action in circular, sustainable business models 

Through these core principles, WorldGBC advocates for a holistic, systemic approach to sustainability in the built environment, and supports its member Green Building Councils to pursue approaches that are best suited to their own country and markets.