The building industry accounts for 40% of the world’s emissions and with the recent COP26 illustrating that even with ambitious goals more needs to be done to reach overall sustainability, industry leaders are being proactive in making improvements.
Responsible building organization Architecture 2030 was active at COP26 and before the event sent a letter representing 60 companies and organizations worth more than $300 billion in annual revenue a letter to government officials encouraging them to support carbon reduction efforts in the industry. The group says of the 40% emissions the building industry produces, even more comes from embodied carbon from interiors, systems and associated infrastructure the amount is much higher.
The organization says it strives for a standardized commitment to help the building industry decarbonize by 2040.
A final report from COP26 shows that even with increased commitments regarding net zero goals, 2030 emissions across the world would still be almost 14% higher than they were in 2010. The International Energy Agency says the expanded commitments still leave a 70% gap in reductions needed to hit worldwide climate goals.
The building industry has been active in attempts to lower its carbon impact.
As part of its COP26 presentation, Architecture 2030 showed the industry has separated growth from carbon emissions. It says that while energy consumption in building declined some, emissions dropped significantly due to use of renewable energy.
That goes in line with other industry efforts, such as the World Green Building Council’s recently updated Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, which encourages shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy in construction. Part of that update says by the start of 2023 businesses and organizations will be required to account for the lifecycle impact of all new buildings and major renovations by stating that they are efficient, powered by renewable energy and use the maximum reductions in carbon emissions.
There are also carbon neutrality programs and new resources in the industry, such as silicone materials produced in a program by DOW.
Architecture 2030 says success is possible and shows that the United States has not increased energy consumption in the industry since 2005 despite adding more than 50 billion square feet of buildings during that time. It also says the US building industry has cut carbon emissions by 30% since then.
“Those responsible for planning, designing, and constructing the global built environment are leading and transforming our sector so that it is a major part of the solution to the climate crisis,” says Edward Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030. “It’s long past time for governments to accelerate the pace of emissions reductions so that we don’t exceed the 1.5°C target.”
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