WorldGBC annual report highlights positive movement towards net zero

2021 report celebrates the work driving the whole life carbon agenda to address emissions from how buildings are used, and from the materials and construction processes

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has announced that the latest version of its annual Advancing Net Zero Status Report highlights several positive steps taken by industry stakeholders around the globe, in the move towards net zero.

“In this crucial decade for climate action, it is inspiring to see the steps being taken now from stakeholders across the built environment towards achieving net zero. The advancing net zero programme and participating GBCs are at the forefront of driving the sectoral transformation needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. Moreover, signatories to the WorldGBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment are showing how industry stakeholders are going further and faster to implement the crucial actions and policies needed to progress the decarbonisation of their portfolios,” said World Green Building Council CEO Cristina Gamboa.

According to a statement, the report highlights leadership action from the Green Building Council (GBC) global network towards achieving total sector decarbonisation. The report also showcases examples of GBCs, businesses and governments scaling action towards achieving WorldGBC’s vision for a decarbonised built environment and serves as a net zero ‘myth busting’ resource to improve the understanding of net zero within the building and construction industry.

Following previous calls for industry action as part of Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront, World Green Building Week 2020 and the COP26 Race to Zero, the 2021 report celebrates the work driving the whole life carbon agenda to address emissions from how buildings are used, and from the materials and construction processes – known as embodied carbon.

The report also covers key industry net zero trends and innovations, including: updates on tackling embodied carbon with benchmarks and targets, scaling up of retrofit and renovations efforts, notable national legislation developments, and innovations in materials and technology. These snapshots dispel the myths about net zero buildings and depict real world examples that have overcome perceived barriers, the statement noted.

Gamboa added, “In the lead up to COP26, the WorldGBC network and its member GBCs, and partners are ready to demonstrate how the built environment can critically contribute to a healthier, equitable and resilient future.”

This year’s COP26 will feature a dedicated ‘Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day’ – a crucial opportunity to catalyse the transformation of the building and construction sector to achieve decarbonisation goals, in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C scenario, the statement pointed out.

Jennifer Leitsch, VP of Corporate Responsibility at CBRE added, “As the world’s largest manager of commercial property, CBRE has the opportunity – and the motivation – to help stem the rise in global temperatures and preserve our planet for future generations. We support WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero programme and the crucial work it does in engaging the sector to advance the uptake of net zero through efforts such as the Advancing Net Zero Status Report. At CBRE, we continue to do our part to significantly reduce emissions from our own operations and the properties we manage for clients.”

Cate Harris, group head of Sustainability & Lendlease Foundation, Lendlease added, “Given what’s at stake, it’s no longer enough to make ambitious commitments without translating them into real and tangible outcomes. This is why Lendlease has committed to #MissionZero and supporting important industry initiatives like the Advancing Net Zero Status Report by the World Green Building Council. Industry collaboration is critical in order for our sector to meaningfully reduce its carbon footprint and tackle the climate crisis head on — it’s our biggest challenge, with our smallest target.”

Bianca Wong, global head of Sustainability at Kingspan remarked, “The latest Advancing Net Zero Status Report showcases the critical role of the built environment in tackling carbon emissions and slowing the advance of global warming. There is a clear business case to realising net zero buildings, and business must play a driving role in the revolution that we need. As a signatory to the Commitment, Kingspan is proud to support this vital initiative, and share the success we have had to date in our own journey towards decarbonization.”

Amanda Sturgeon, Regenerative Design lead – Asia Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Mott MacDonald commented, “We have entered a critical decade for the building sector to action net zero carbon and make it a reality at scale. Mott MacDonald is a proud signatory to the commitment, it is in alignment with our carbon neutral certified company achievement and goal to become a Net Zero company. Advancing Net Zero is providing the critical guidance that we need to scale Net Zero Carbon Buildings and the whole life carbon vision is an important evolution for us to reach the carbon reduction that is essential for our future.”

The report is said to also highlight actions from Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment signatories, including Multiplex, The GPT Group, Hudson Pacific Properties and Grimshaw, and how they are fulfilling their commitments to decarbonise their building portfolios.

A full list of current commitment signatories stands at a total of 141, with 107 businesses and organisations; 28 cities; and 6 states and regions. The businesses and organisations signed up to the Commitment now account for over 5.2 million (tCO2e) of portfolio emissions, the statement said.

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