New principles provide roadmap for net zero buildings

Collective actions must be taken to accelerate the decarbonisation of buildings, which contribute 38% of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. A new action plan released today by the World Economic Forum proposes a set of principles to help businesses deliver net zero carbon buildings and meet key climate commitments.

The Principles of ecological construction: the action plan for a zero carbon footprint provides a clear sequence of steps to deliver net zero carbon buildings. Developed in collaboration with JLL and the Forum’s real estate CEO community, it includes a set of key principles that companies can formally adopt along with an action plan on how to implement them.

“The climate crisis is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. It will affect all aspects of our lives and threatens the entire global economy and we must quickly deploy the solutions we already have in hand to avoid its most catastrophic impacts, ”said Al Gore, Vice President of States -Unis (1993-2001), President and Co-Founder, Generation Investment Management. “Buildings are a significant and often overlooked contributor to this crisis, but with investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, we can begin to solve the climate crisis, create tens of millions of jobs and build a future. better.”

“As increased action on the climate crisis becomes more urgent with each passing year, it is important that all leaders find new ways to act,” said Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum. “Business leaders have a great opportunity to take climate action simply by making sure their own offices and properties are sustainable and are moving towards a net zero future. Increasing sustainability in the office and across value chains is a critical step for all businesses. “

“2021 was the year of net zero carbon commitments. In this context, the built environment has shown leadership with companies, investors, architects, cities and regions signing up to the Race to Zero ”, declared Nigel Topping, high level champion for Climate Action, COP26 Climate Champions, UK. “2022 will be the year in which we strategize to meet these net zero carbon commitments. This action plan launched by the World Economic Forum provides the guidance real estate portfolios need to do so comprehensively and cost effectively.

The principles

1. Calculate a robust carbon footprint of your portfolio in the most recent representative year to inform targets

2. Define a target year to achieve net zero carbon, by 2050 at the latest, and an intermediate reduction target of at least 50% of these emissions by 2030

3. Measure and record incorporated carbon new developments and major renovations.

4. Maximize emission reductions for all new developments and major renovations in the pipeline to ensure delivery of net zero carbon (operational and embedded) by the selected final target year

5. Drive energy optimization both on existing assets and new developments

6. Maximize on-site supply renewable energy.

7. Make sure 100% off-site energy is purchased from renewable sources, if applicable

8. Engage with stakeholders with whom you have influence in your value chain to reduce scope 3 emissions

9. Offset any residual emissions by purchasing high quality carbon offsets

10. Collaborate with stakeholders to identify common efforts and share costs and benefits equitably interventions

The action plan provides globally applicable guidance on best practices for implementing the principles for everyone involved, from owners and occupants to investors.

Industry leadership

“The pandemic has underscored the need for climate action, and buildings provide the perfect opportunity to address a large portion of global emissions,” said Christian Ulbrich, global managing director and president of JLL. “We can and must work to deliver net zero carbon buildings and the companies that do this first will lead the industry. “

“We need to act now, and everyone from engineers to occupiers to investors must be part of this journey,” said Coen van Oostrom, Founder and CEO of EDGE. “The Principles provide the necessary roadmap and businesses of all types need to shift their mindset around their buildings. We have to think in terms of renovation, circularity and digitalization. Considering the built environment as favorable to societal well-being and to the planet is the necessary paradigm shift. “

Ahead of the COP26 in November, the public and private sectors committed to reducing emissions and meeting key climate targets in accordance with the Paris Agreement. These commitments are essential and many of them provide valuable guidance. But the roadmap to achieve these goals has been lacking. The new principles and action plan provide this roadmap and help companies implement their existing commitments.

In an open letter also released today, the Forum’s community of real estate CEOs, Ulbrich and van Oostrom, urge their peers, across a wide range of industries, to formally embrace the principles and act on their behalf. commit to reducing their building emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and deliver zero carbon real estate portfolios by 2050 at the latest.

“The World Green Building Council encourages businesses to step up climate action by adopting the new World Economic Forum principles, which set a clear path to delivering net zero carbon buildings,” said Cristina Gamboa, CEO of World Green Building Council. “The principles are aligned with our Net Zero Carbon Buildings commitment and we hope that companies from all sectors will seize this opportunity to step up their ambition to decarbonize their building portfolios. “

“We are running out of time and the built environment is essential to mitigate global warming,” said Kalin Bracken, head of real estate, World Economic Forum. “It’s a problem that goes beyond the real estate sector. Every industry has a role to play in reducing its real estate footprint and that’s a message we really need to get across.

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