Globally, buildings account for 40% of energy use, 38% of greenhouse gas emissions, 12% of potable water and 20% of solid waste streams in developed countries. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified buildings as the greatest impact, least costly way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. Beyond emissions reduction and environmental protection, green buildings have extensive co-benefits, including cost-savings, job creation, and improved human health and productivity.
Buildings also have a very important role to play in ensuring resilient communities and are uniquely positioned to address climate change mitigation and adaptation through many green building strategies and investments. Despite the major impact of the buildings sector on climate change, buildings have not been a significant focus of the negotiations to date.
Business and industry, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholder groups supply a unique perspective and voice in the climate negotiations. They push national governments to adopt more ambitious reduction goals and often lead the way on climate action through their own activities and initiatives. Several private sector programs for addressing climate change through the design and construction of sustainable buildings were highlighted Friday during the USGBC and Business Council for Sustainable Energy’s joint-side event at COP19 on An Integrated Approach to Mitigation, Adaptation and Resilience in the Built Environment.
As the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events increases, governments must ensure the resilience of their buildings and infrastructure. Strategic decisions to promote sustainability in the building and energy sectors will deliver vital environmental, financial and human health co-benefits. The event featured presentations by Lisa Jacobson, Business Council for Sustainable Energy; Maggie Comstock, USGBCl; Kate Offringa, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association; Nanette Lockwood, Global Director, Product Advocacy, Ingersoll Rand; and Jennifer Layke, Institute for Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls.
Active participation in the UN process is crucial to affecting meaningful change and driving market transformation. USGBC and its partners are voices of the industry advocating for green buildings as part of the global policy solution on this global stage.