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Cities Pledge Net Zero Carbon New Buildings by 2030

The Science and Technology Facility at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab is a 100 percent net zero energy building where solar cell, thin-film, and nanostructure research are conducted, 2018, Golden, Colorado (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain.

The Science and Technology Facility at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab is a 100 percent net zero energy building where solar cell, thin-film, and nanostructure research are conducted, 2018, Golden, Colorado (Photo courtesy NREL) Public domain.

By Sunny Lewis

LONDON, UK, September 4, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Nineteen pioneering mayors, representing 130 million urban residents, have committed their cities to cut greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring that all new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030.

By joining the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the leaders of: Copenhagen; Johannesburg; London; Los Angeles; Montreal; New York City; Newburyport, Massachusetts; Paris; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; Santa Monica; Stockholm; Sydney, Tokyo; Toronto; Tshwane, South Africa; Vancouver, Canada; and Washington, DC, also pledged to ensure all buildings in their cities, old and new, will meet the net zero carbon standard by 2050.

The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment will officially launch at the Global Climate Action Summit <globalclimateactionsummit.org>in San Francisco, California on September 13, 2018.

A zero carbon building is one with zero net energy consumption or zero net carbon emissions on an annual basis.

Commitment signatories will track, verify and report publicly on building performance metrics with a focus on energy use and associated emissions. They will advocate across their supply chains for all suppliers and partners to establish and follow their own commitments to reach net zero by 2030.

Delivering on commitments made now will require a united effort, as city governments do not have direct control over all the buildings in a city. This commitment includes a pledge to work together with state and regional governments and the private sector to drive this transformation, and calls on national governments for equal action.

In June, WorldGBC celebrated the first three founding private sector signatories of the commitment, among them Majid Al Futtaim, a pioneer in shopping mall, retail and leisure destinations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Majid Al Futtaim, an Emirati holding company based in Dubai, has committed to eliminating operational carbon emissions from all its assets across 15 countries by 2030, including more than 12 malls and shopping centres, 12 hotels and three mixed-use living communities. Their corporate strategy drives emission reductions by requiring green energy leases for mall retail units.

The other two founding private sector signatories are Integral Group, a global engineering firm specializing in delivery of net zero buildings, and Signify formerly known as Philips Lighting – the lighting company for the Internet of Things. With a presence in over 70 countries, Signify has committed to net zero carbon for all its more than 300 buildings.

By setting ambitious absolute targets, the Commitment aims to maximize the chances of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as specified in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate, by reducing operating emissions from buildings.

Globally, almost 40 percent of energy related greenhouse emissions come from buildings, with 28 percent coming from the operations of buildings themselves. This equals the total emissions of China and the European Union combined.

In 2015, 82 percent of final energy consumption in buildings was supplied by fossil fuels, whereas to meet the Paris Agreement, this must become zero percent.

The WorldGBC definition of a net zero carbon building is a one that is highly energy efficient and fully powered by renewable energy sources, either on-site or off-site.

Urban buildings are some of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and typically account for over half of a city’s total emissions.

In London, Los Angeles and Paris, buildings account for well over 70 percent of the cities’ overall emissions, creating an enormous opportunity for progress on bringing emissions down.

Currently, half a million people die prematurely each year due to outdoor air pollution caused by energy used in buildings, according to research prepared for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis by a team led by Diana Ürge-Vorsatz of the Central European University, Hungary – Fagship-Projects.

The Commitment has been orchestrated by C40 Cities, a global group of major cities committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level. This pledge from cities is part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment for businesses, cities, states and regions, which opened for recruitment in June.

Cities making this commitment will:

  • Establish a roadmap for our commitment to reach net zero carbon buildings;
  • Develop a suite of supporting incentives and programs;
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting our targets, and
  • Evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon, such as refrigerants.

In addition, 13 cities: Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Montreal, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Tshwane and Vancouver, have committed to owning, occupying and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon by 2030.

To achieve this, cities will:

  • Evaluate the current energy demand and carbon emissions from their municipal buildings, and identify opportunities for reduction.
  • Establish a roadmap for their commitment to reach net zero carbon municipal buildings
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting their targets, and
  • Evaluate the feasibility of including emissions beyond operational carbon, such as refrigerants.

C40 Cities Executive Director Mark Watts blogged earlier this year, “By 2030 the majority of privately owned buildings will need to have been retrofitted to high energy efficiency standards in all categories of cities except the two lowest income groupings, where the primary focus is on new build. In the two highest income categories, 95-100 percent of privately owned buildings will have been retrofitted.”

Watts wrote, “…it is possible for major cities to decarbonise fast and deeply enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals. But there is now an incredible urgency to get on track.”

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has launched a major initiative to support the development of zero-energy building. Led by Gregory Hayes, the CEO of United Technologies, and Eric Olsen, Chairman of Lafarge, the organization has the support of large global companies and the expertise to mobilize the corporate world and governmental support to make zero-energy building a reality.

Their first report, a survey of key players in real estate and construction, indicates that the costs of building green are overestimated by 300 percent.

Climate and carbon, human health and high technology are among the top trends expected to drive the global green building market in 2018.

Green Building Council of Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Romilly Madew said, “In 2018, the UN will undertake a global stock take of emissions reduction actions and progress, and signatories to the Paris Agreement will be required to demonstrate their progress towards accelerating emissions reductions.”

Romilly says this stock taking will “undoubtedly reveal the leaders and laggards on climate action, and will put pressure on national governments to step up.”

Terri Wills, CEO, World Green Building Council, said, “Achieving net zero carbon buildings at the mass scale required is complex, multi-faceted and challenging.

“Whether developed as a new standard, adapting an existing certification scheme, or developing a compliance pathway in collaboration with national government,” said Wills, “these voluntary standards provide an opportunity for companies to embrace net zero carbon buildings as business as usual.”

Featured Image: Tokyo, Japan, a city of 13 million people, is one of the cities that has committed to having all new buildings operating at net zero carbon by 2030. July 26, 2018 (Photo by diamory) Creative Commons license via Flickr


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Building a Green Path Toward Sustainable Cities

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By Sunny Lewis

HONG KONG, China, November 6, 2015 (Maximpact News) – Green building is one of the best ways to combat climate change, since globally, “Buildings account for about a third of CO2 emissions, and these will continue to rise under a business-as-usual scenario,” Bruce Kerswill told delegates to the World Green Building Congress 2015 at the Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Kowloon East late last month.

In his role as chair of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), Kerswill said the Council is “galvanising the green building movement through a commitment to reduce 84 gigatonnes of C02 from the buildings sector by 2050.”

He explained that this effort is needed to limit global temperature rise to within 2°C above pre-industrial levels. World leaders agreed on this target as a matter of urgency at the 2009 United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen.

At this year’s UN climate talks in Paris in December, where a universal, legally-binding deal to set emissions limits will be signed, the WorldGBC will hold the first-ever Buildings Day.

There, the WorldGBC will unveil the detailed commitments of Green Building Councils around the world to build green as a means of controlling global warming while creating social and economic benefits.

The Hong Kong Green Building Council (HKGBC), and other green building councils around the world are determining their own targets ahead of the Paris talks, formally known as the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP21.

At this year’s climate negotiations, there is a special focus on cities, writes Mark Ginsberg for the U.S. Green Building Council. “Many of us have long realized that cities are a logical place to address global issues. More people are living in cities than ever before in history, and urbanization is relentlessly growing. Cities consume two-thirds of the world’s energy and create more than 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. Cities have also been leaders in innovation and problem solving.”

In Hong Kong, to an audience of green building leaders from 30 countries attending the Congress, the HKGBC proudly announced a milestone. Over the past five years, more than 200 million square feet (19 million square metres) of Gross Floor Area has been registered under the environmental accreditation system BEAM Plus New Buildings and Existing Buildings.

BEAM, the Building Environmental Assessment Method, is the Hong Kong rating tool for green buildings. This voluntary private sector initiative conceived in 1996, has developed into an internationally recognized suite of rating tools for green buildings including new buildings, existing buildings and interiors for shops, offices, retail.

BEAM Plus includes the six aspects of a project: site aspects, energy use, indoor environmental quality, materials aspects, water use, and innovations and additions.

Cheung Hau-wai, vice chairman of the HKGBC and a member of the Construction Industry Council, commented, “This is a significant achievement accomplished by the collaboration between private and public sectors in Hong Kong.”

“With the growing awareness of the public about energy efficiency and the benefits that the BEAM Plus system can bring to the users, we expect to see continued support from the private sector and other stakeholders to build more green buildings that meet the BEAM Plus standards said Cheung. “It will enable us to make further contribution in energy saving and CO2 emission reduction.”

Looking ahead, HKGBC has set its Green Building Targets for the next five years to:

  • Certify at least 150 million square feet (14 million square meters) of gross floor area under BEAM Plus
  • Accredit at least 350 new BEAM practitioners a year, and work with BEAM Society Limited to provide at least 12,000 man hours of training per year to existing BEAM practitioners
  • Support the creation of a building energy consumption database through BEAM Plus and other systems

“Asia has enormous potential to contribute to green buildings development as countries like China and India are undergoing rapid urbanization,” said Terri Wills, chief executive of WorldGBC.

China is adding nearly two billion square meters of floor space each year while in India, two-thirds of the buildings which will exist in 2030 haven’t yet been built,” she said. “In both countries, and in the region, we have the opportunity to build better and greener buildings.”

The head of the Green Building Council Indonesia (GBCI) told the Hong Kong Congress delegates that 140 registered buildings are about to receive a green building certification.

GBCI Chair Naning Adiwoso said that until July 2015, only 14 Indonesian buildings had been certified as green. The demanding certification process usually takes six to 12 months, depending on the building’s design.

Naning advised building management and property developers to pay attention to environmental issues as buildings account for 23 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

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There are currently eight new green buildings in Indonesia and five developing buildings that have already received a green certification from GBCI. And, 15 more buildings have claimed to be eco-friendly.

One building that has earned the green label is the main building of Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing. This building can save 43 percent of its former electricity usage, and also can save 61 percent of water in the dry season and 81 percent of water in the rainy season.

Kerswill said green building practices are here to stay. “WorldGBC, national Green Building Councils and member companies are deeply committed to mobilizing a global market transformation to advance the fundamental goals of achieving net zero carbon new building and deep refurbishment of existing stock by 2050.”


 

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Featured image: New buildings are often greener buildings in Hong Kong. (Photo by Philip McMaster courtesy McMaster Institute for Sustainable Development in Commerce under creative commons license via Flickr)
Main image: The Natural Resources Defense Council office building at 111 Sutter St. San Francisco, California. LEED Gold Certified, Energy Star Certified, this building is green because it has 14 green activities that achieved outcomes of energy efficient design, water use reduction, sustainable site selection and development and five more. (Photo by U.S. Green Building Council)
Image 01: The new Indonesian Ministry of Public Works office building in Jakarta incorporates a gubernatorial regulation on green building. It received a 2014 LaFarge Holcim Award for Sustainable Buildings at the International Awards for Sustainable Construction. (Photo courtesy LaFarge Holcim Foundation)