Research: Buildings could cut emissions by 44% by 2050

emissions generated from buildings, buildings and infrastructure,
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Changes to the construction industry could cut the emissions generated from buildings and infrastructure in cities by 44% by 2050, according to new research

The report, published by C40 Cities, Arup and University of Leeds, ‘Building and Infrastructure Consumption Emissions’ urges action in 6 key areas to reduce the climate impact of construction in cities and cut the emissions generated from buildings:

  • Implementing efficiency in material design;
  • Enhancing existing building utilisation;
  • Switching high-emission materials to sustainable timber where appropriate;
  • Using lower-carbon cement;
  • Reusing building materials and components;
  • Using low, or zero-emission construction machinery.

As well as reducing GHG emissions, the research reveals the additional economic, social and health benefits that ‘clean’ construction could generate. The interventions identified in the research would reduce air and noise pollution, providing health benefits for citizens and the environment. They would also spark change within the growing construction economy, providing opportunities for new jobs and skills.

Ben Smith, director of energy, cities and climate change at Arup, said: “As the sector responsible for the largest share of consumption-based emissions in C40 cities between now and 2050, it’s clear that the construction sector must do more to reduce its carbon impact.

“Our research shows that there are significant opportunities to act, but we need to rethink the way buildings and infrastructure are delivered. Making that change a reality will rely on working with all those with responsibility for delivering development.

“We believe that the construction sector can embrace this change, if it invests in necessary skills and training and seeks to promote innovation.”

“The world’s cities are growing fast, with an area the size of Milan being built every week. It may be a boom time for builders but the construction industry is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

“As C40’s research demonstrates, citizens will ultimately benefit from cleaner air, quieter streets and lower prices. Now it is up to businesses and industry to recognise the risks of inaction and work with mayors and consumers to make sure everyone benefits from the huge opportunities that lie ahead from clean construction, ” added Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities.


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