Buildings crucial to reduce global emissions (UK/EU)

The building sector provides some of the most cost-effective ways to tackle climate change. The UK Green Building Council, as part of a World Green Building Council delegation, is in Copenhagen to promote the role of buildings in reducing carbon emissions globally.

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report concluded that, with proven and commercially available technologies, the energy consumption in both new and old buildings could be cut by an estimated 30-50 per cent without significantly increasing investment costs.

However, this potential is not yet reflected in international priorities. For example, as of April 2009, only 12 of the 4,500 projects in the Clean Development Mechanism were seeking to reduce energy demand in buildings – a huge missed opportunity.

A major barrier up to now has been the lack of a common way of measuring the carbon emissions from buildings across different countries. This will soon be a thing of the past, with the publication today by the UN Environment Programme SBCI (Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative) of a 'Common Carbon Metric' – a consistent way of measuring carbon emissions from buildings that has been developed with input from the World Green Building Council and by different rating tools such as BREEAM, Green Star LEED.

Tony Arnel, Chairman of the World Green Building Council said: "Buildings represent the biggest and best opportunity for achieving cost-effective carbon mitigation action, globally. The World Green Building Council represents the biggest and most effective coalition of organisations dedicated to the development of green, low-carbon buildings, and as such we recognise the historic importance of the climate change negotiations taking place in Copenhagen. Countries around the world must embrace the opportunities afforded by new and existing buildings to help us curb global emissions and set us on a low-carbon trajectory for development that goes hand in hand with benefits for people and businesses everywhere."

Paul King, Chief Executive of the UK Green Building Council, commented,"Buildings have been the poor relation in international climate negotiations up to now. Having an agreed way to measure carbon emissions from buildings is the first step to changing that. It's now up to all countries to put buildings – both new and existing at the heart of their climate change strategies."

Source: UK Green Building Council

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