Construction sector commits to massive carbon savings at COP21

The UK Green Building Council has come together with Green Building Councils from around the world to publish a series of commitments from the private sector that would result in massive carbon savings from buildings and construction.

Formally published on Thursday at Buildings Day - the official COP21 meeting led by Ségolène Royal, the French Minister of Ecology - the commitments include

  • Corporate pledges from more than 50 businesses operating in the UK, and over 100 globally, committing to play their part in delivering the necessary carbon reductions. UK-GBC members to issue corporate pledges on carbon include major construction companies and developers such as The Crown Estate, Marks & Spencer, British Land, LendLease, Land Securities, Derwent, Argent and Kingfisher. (See notes to editors for details.)
  • All 74 national Green Building Councils, under the umbrella of the World Green Building Council, commit to driving 'Net Zero Carbon' new building and large scale energy efficient refurbishment of the existing building stock in order to play their role in limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees. The sector must reduce emissions by 84 GtCO2 by 2050, the equivalent of taking 22,000 coal-fired power stations out of existence.
  • Green Building Councils around the world are committed to register, renovate or certify over 1.25 billion sq m of green building space (twice the size of Singapore) and train over 127,000 green building professionals by 2020.

“The eyes of the world are on Paris, but it is not just down to the politicians to make it a success," said CEO of UK-GBC Julie Hirigoyen. "There is a clear business case for the construction and real estate sector to cut carbon emissions from buildings. The climate pledge commitments from our members demonstrate the widespread industry support for urgent action, and point to a market that is transforming itself.”

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “Today marks a turning point in history. Politicians and business leaders now jointly recognise that the way we build can lead to economic growth and prosperity without risking life on the planet, and that the private sector is a driving force in achieving this goal.

“While the building sector is a major contributor to climate change, it is an essential part of the solution – and one that brings immediate benefits to economy and society. Green Building Councils, their private sector members and government partners have committed to transform the global buildings industry to not only help us reach a 2 degree world tomorrow, but enable us to realise the direct benefits from a new way of building – today.”

A new alliance known as the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, which includes WorldGBC was also launched today, in order to encourage coordination and partnerships between global organisations working on buildings and construction, and to help countries meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) through green building.

UK-GBC corporate pledges can be viewed here.

Details of commitments from GBCs around the world can be viewed here.

A sample of UK pledges:

Balfour Beatty: "We will reduce our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions per £m turnover by 50% by 2020 relative to our 2010 baseline."

British Land: "By 2020 we will deliver a 15% reduction in landlord embodied carbon intensity for projects over £50m against 2015 per m²"

Carillion: "We will reduce our carbon footprint by 24% by 2020 based on a 2011 baseline".

HAB Housing: "From 2020 we will seek to make all of our schemes Energy Positive."

Kingfisher: "By 2020, Kingfisher aims for a 45% reduction in energy intensity of our property and an energy saving of 38 TWh for our customers."

Land Securities: "By 2020 Land Securities will purchase 100% of our electricity from renewable sources."

Marks and Spencer: "We will improve energy efficiency in UK and Republic of Ireland stores, offices and distribution centres by 50% per sq ft by 2020."

The Crown Estate: "We will improve carbon emissions intensity by a further 50% from a 2012/13 baseline for property under our direct control (by 2022

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