With buildings accounting for a third of the world’s current energy use, and with 54 percent of the world’s population currently living in urban areas – a figure which is set to continue rising – the human impact on the environment in urban areas is undeniably huge. Thankfully, there are organizations and people involved in sustainable development in these areas who are helping to drive the goals and regulations in green building that can truly help to turn the current trend of a disaster impact around.
Central to the movement and the driving of sustainability goals on a huge scale across the world is the United Nations. More specifically, the COP21 Paris Agreement was a pivotal moment in the formation of shared sustainability goals that will help to drive a green building agenda in urban areas into the future.
What is the COP21 Paris Agreement?
COP21 was also known as the Paris Climate Change Conference and was the first conference in over 20 years of UN negotiations that was expressly aimed at achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change – with the measurable outcome of keeping global warming below 2°C.
On 12 Dec 2015, an action plan was put in place to ensure that countries remain bound by their commitments to carbon neutrality – which is set as a target for the second half of this century. This was truly a historic moment in human consciousness over our impact on the environment and our dedication to lightening our impact.
How Will the Paris Agreement Drive Green Building in Urban Areas?
At the COP21, the world’s first ever Buildings Day was held, acknowledging the impact of buildings on greenhouse gas emissions. This day provided the first ever opportunity for the formation of a committed alliance of organizations who aim to:
- Help to put the buildings and construction sector on the “below 2 °C path”
- Align existing initiatives, commitments and programmes to achieve greater scale and increase the pace of efficiency actions
- Catalyse stronger collaboration and targeting sectoral and cross-sectoral climate action and solutions for all
Through their shared agreements, the alliance will aim to halve the projected growth in energy consumption in buildings by 2050. By implementing the necessary measures to drive green building in each of their respective regions, the alliance hopes to prevent approximately 3 gigatons of CO₂ emissions by 2050.
The Socio-Economic Case for Building Efficiency
The agreements formed at the COP21 with regards to improving the energy efficiency – and reducing the carbon emissions – of buildings are also born out of sharp awareness that investment in green buildings is sound economic policy. At the COP21 Buildings Day, a case was quite clearly made for how sustainable design and construction can benefit people’s livelihoods, create new jobs through the creation and innovation of green technologies, and increase investment in local infrastructure. Furthermore, the alliance of organizations predicts that energy efficiency in buildings can save up to $2.8 trillion globally by the year 2030.
Thanks to the commitment of the UN and its partner organizations, great strides are being made toward a future truly built on green. The true impact of COP21 sustainability goals are no doubt still to be felt, but if the green building revolution in Asia is anything to go by, there are countries in the region who are serious about meeting these goals.