Number of organisations committed to net-zero buildings doubles in one year

The number of companies, cities, states and regions committed to delivering zero-carbon buildings has more than doubled in year, according to new findings from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) that confirms that 95 signatories are working towards its Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

Number of organisations committed to net-zero buildings doubles in one year

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To mark World Environment Day, the WorldGBC has confirmed that 61 of the 95 signatories are businesses. The signatories will work to ensure that all of their buildings are zero-carbon by 2050 – a move that will reduce more than 3.3 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

New companies to have signed up to the Commitment have committed to ensuring that all buildings they own, occupy or develop will be net-zero status by 2030.

New signatories include Filipino developer Arthaland, Finnish retail developer Citycon, Excool Group, Finnish pension insurer Varma, retail centre developer Wereldhave, real estate investment firm FORE Partnership, residential developer Joseph Homes and consultancies Max Fordham, Surbana Jurong, EVORA Global and Atelier Ten.

The educational institute Adventist Education Southern Brazilian Union is also a recent signatory and has agreed to retrofit 78 schools in order to operate at net-zero energy by 2030.

“Buildings are our planet’s largest consumers of energy,” WorldGBC’s chief executive Cristina Gamboa said. “Measures to reduce consumption and energy waste in buildings offer the fastest way to unlock carbon savings, but they are often overlooked and deprioritised.

“As we overcome the immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must focus on resilience. Net-zero building can benefit people, economies and the planet and must form a part of the bold and decisive action necessary to tackle the climate emergency.”

As well as accounting for nearly 40% of global emissions, the built environment is expected to double the global building stock by 2060 as the world’s population approaches 10 billion.

The WorldGBC has announced a new partnership with the BBC’s creative studio StoryWorks to deliver a landmark film series. The aim of the series is to showcase ways in which built environment businesses are innovating approaches to design and construction in order to lessen the sector’s impact on the planet, while improving the health and wellbeing for citizens across the globe.

The series is set to launch in Autumn 2020 as part of a multi-channel campaign – including the BBC website

WorldGBC has issued a report outlining how companies in the sector can focus on both operational and embodied carbon to reach net-zero emission buildings by 2050. The report notes that operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) account for 28% of the built environment sector’s 39% contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining 11% derives from embodied carbon emissions found in the material and construction processes across a building’s entire lifecycle.

Before that, and in line with the targets of the Paris Agreement, the WorldGBC launched its net-zero commitment, setting a 2050 deadline for the transformation of the sector, which is what the organisations above have committed to. Since the launch, research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has outlined the necessity of limiting global warming to 1.5C in the same timeframe.

Matt Mace

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