COP21 Day 4 review: Blueprints in place for buildings of the future

Thursday at COP21 was Buildings Day, and it was marked by the launch of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, which aims to scale up the sector's attempts to decarbonise.

Eighteen countries (Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the US, and over 60 organizations are part of the alliance.

As an example of the type of action the coalition will take, the World Green Building Council (WGBC) committed to a ‘global market transformation’  to achieve two goals by 2050: net zero carbon new building and the energy efficiency retrofit of existing stock.


Sixteen leading European firms also took the opportunity to deliver their own commitment to drive delivery of ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ (nZEB) for new build by 2020, and refurbished buildings by 2030.

The ‘Moving towards net zero buildings’ commitmenthas been signed by 16 leading organisations representing different sectors of the property sector supply chain, including Acciona, British Land, Doosan, Ferrovial, GlaxoSmithKline, Hammerson, Heathrow, Interface, JLL, Kingfisher, Land Securities, Lloyd’s Banking Group, Philips, Skanska, Sky, Tesco.

A statement from the group said the commitment was a response to the “lack of co-ordinated approach across the built environment sector in the delivery of energy efficient building”.

EU regulation states that by 31 December 2020 all new buildings must be nZEBs.

The pledge outlines several actions that the signatories commit to, including driving down energy intensity across corporate property estates; collaborating across the supply chain to set sector specific targets and engaging with policy makers on progress, reporting and performance of zero energy goals.

Everything else you need to know from Thursday at COP21

Google gets greener

Web giant Google has joined the RE100 with an interim target to triple its purchase of renewable energy by 2025 and a long term goal to power all of its operations with renewables.

Google also said it will purchase a further 842MW of energy through a series of new wind and solar projects around the world. It is already the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world

 Google is the latest tech giant to join the RE100 campaign after Microsoft and Adobe earlier this week. 

New draft document

A new text, which is now 50 pages long instead of 55, was posted on Thursday morning on the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Another new text is expected on Thursday evening or Friday morning. By Saturday lunchtime, negotiators have to present a draft agreement that is as legible as possible, with a maximum of settled options, before Ministers take over on Monday.

Tesla maestro backs carbon price

Elon Musk was also in Paris, telling students at the Sorbonne University that the obvious solution to runaway global warming was to remove the effective subsidy of not pricing the damage done by carbon pollution.

“To make it neither a left nor right issue we should make it a revenue-neutral carbon tax – increasing carbon tax and reducing tax in other areas like consumption taxes or VAT and in order to give companies time to react it should be a phased in approach,” he said.

Musk encouraged students to press politicians to take action on climate change because “governments respond to popular pressure.”

He also said he had a good feeling about COP21, whereas Copenhagen had been “terrible”.

Divestment or engagement?

Yesterday, revealed that the global divestment movement had now recruited investorswith more than $3.4trn in assets. However CDP today released figures that make the case for engagement with polluting companies.

The 304 investors in CDP’s Carbon Action initiative ask companies to help tackle climate change in three ways: making emissions reductions; publicly disclosing emissions reduction targets; and investing in emissions-reduction projects with a positive return.

This year alone the investor group has generated 641 million tonnes of carbon savings – the equivalent to closing down 168 coal-fired power plants

Plans to share low-carbon transport schemes

Mastercard announced a partnership with the C40 Cities group to create a knowledge transfer network for urban transport innovations.

The types of initiative that the group will be looking to share include:

  • London, where the introduction of contactless transit ticketing has reduced costs and increased ridership, particularly from tourists
  • San Francisco, where ‘SF Park’, a parking program with a responsive pricing mechanism, has reduced ‘cruising’ for parking by around 50%
  • Paris, where changes to parking policies and the introduction of a car sharing scheme in addition to cycling and public transport improvements has reduced vehicle miles travelled and  emissions

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie