A new report by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction sees huge untapped potential to reduce emissions in the global buildings and construction sector.
Emissions from buildings and construction may have already peaked in recent years thanks to energy efficiency gains in areas such as heating, lighting and cooking, as well as energy-saving technologies like heat pumps, improved windows and insulation and the use of less energy-intensive materials.
This is one of the key findings of the 2018 Global Status Report: Towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector, which was written by the International Energy Agency and UN Environment and released last week by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.
However, the report warns that the building sector still accounts for 39 per cent of total energy-related CO2 emissions and 36 per cent of final energy use. “We only need to look at the current norms and quality of many buildings to see that we can do so much better. We need to raise the bar in energy-efficient, green buildings and far better practice in construction,” Joyce Msuya, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment, said in a statement.
One key opportunity to decarbonize the buildings and construction sector is through national climate action plans, known as Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs), according to the report. Over 10 NDCs currently mention specific actions to enhance energy-efficiency in buildings, though more needs to be done to extend these to construction and ‘embodied carbon’ linked with the manufacturing of construction materials like cement.
The report also identifies several initiatives that could drive change in the buildings and construction sector, such as the Science Based Targets initiative and the Net Zero Carbon Buildings commitment.
Image credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel via Unsplash