As significant as the COVID-19 pandemic has been during the first half of 2020, media attention has been drawn away from another global crisis — carbon emissions.
The construction industry has a critical response role to play in the world’s future, according to Erik Solheim, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme.
“We urgently need to move towards a pollution free planet, to tackle climate change and to drive sustainable development,” writes Solheim in the UN’s 2017 Global Status Report. “We can only do that with decisive action in this sector. Technologically and commercially viable solutions exist, but we need stronger policies and partnerships to scale them up more rapidly.”
“Buildings and construction together account for 36 per cent of global final energy use and 39 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when upstream power generation is included,” the UN report says. “Progress towards sustainable buildings and construction is advancing, but improvements are still not keeping up with a growing buildings sector and rising demand for energy services. The energy intensity per square metre (m2) of the global buildings sector needs to improve on average by 30 per cent by 2030 (compared to 2015) to be on track to meet global climate ambitions set forth in the Paris Agreement.”
There are three basic elements concerning construction-related carbon emissions addressed in the UN report.
First is building envelope design.
“An urgent focus on building envelope performance and design is needed, including the policy levers and financing