Builders plan to reduce carbon emissions in construction

Friday, July 30th, 2021 00:20 |
Apartment buildings with shared amenities. PD/Courtesy

Milliam Murigi @millymur1

To achieve full system decarbonisation (reducing carbon emissions) in the built environment, it is necessary to ensure each company focuses not only on its own emissions reduction, but also on how it can actively support an overall net-zero transition of built assets, a new report has revealed.

Dubbed Decarbonising Construction, the report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reveals that alignment and collaboration between all companies in the building and construction system is crucial to reaching the Paris Agreement objectives, which sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below two degrees celsius and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degree celsius, as no stakeholder can do it alone.

According to the report, the building industry is responsible for 38 per cent, or around 14 gigatons, of all energy-related Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions each year.

Global decarbonisation trajectories indicate that the industry needs to reduce these emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 if it is to reach “net zero” by mid-century and achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

“To decarbonise the built environment, there is a need to meet net-zero emissions across all activities in the building and construction system.

Meaning emissions from materials production and construction processes so-called embodied carbon must come to an end,” reads part of the report.

According to the report, it is time for all actors to come together and try to decarbonise the sector since for a long time, efforts to decarbonise the sector have always focused on reducing operational carbon (carbon that results from the use of energy to heat, power and cool buildings and infrastructure).

The World Green Building Council has set also target for all new buildings to reach net-zero carbon in operations by 2030 and requiring all buildings to be net-zero along the full life cycle by 2050.

“While reductions in electricity-based carbon emissions could reduce embodied carbon for future manufacturing, it will only apply to the materials replaced in the more distant future and only to the extent to which electricity can cover manufacturing energy demand.

The importance of embodied carbon grows proportionally as the energy demand is reduced and energy sources are decarbonised,” reads the report.

It called on investors and developers to reduce embodied carbon by prioritising circular design that is less new building and more reuse and refurbishment and use of less material and choosing lower-carbon materials.

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