All buildings must operate at net zero carbon by 2050 to meet climate targets

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The World Green Building Council has warned the building sector must become net zero carbon by 2050 if climate targets are to be met

Global climate targets will only be realised if all buildings on the planet operate at net zero carbon levels, says the World Green Building Council.

The building sector contributes significantly to global emissions. In order to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius, as agreed in the Paris agreement, there would need to be a drastic overhaul of building emissions.

The current building stock across the globe stands at around 223 billion square metres, according to estimates from the International Energy Agency. It is expected this figure will nearly double by 2050, reaching 415 billion square metres. The Global Alliance for Building and Construction said renovation of existing building stock stands at less than one per cent, meaning to achieve net zero carbon levels by 2050 this figure must rise by three per cent every year starting in 2017.

Net zero buildings

The report from the World Building Council revealed the limited number of net zero buildings across the globe. Only 500 net zero commercial buildings and 2,000 homes exist. This is well beneath one per cent of all buildings worldwide.

Net zero buildings are classed as highly energy efficient buildings that generate or supply the energy they require to operate. The reported warned that to meet climate targets, specific actions would be necessary to change all buildings to net zero carbon by 2050. The report said in the interim all new buildings should be operating at net zero carbon by 2030.

CEO Terri Wills said: “We need nothing short of a dramatic and ambitious transformation from a world of thousands of net zero buildings, to one of billions if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“Businesses, governments and NGOs hold the key to this transformation, but they must commit to aggressive action. It is possible to create a world in which every single building produces zero carbon emissions, but we must start today.”

News this week that the US will withdraw from the Paris agreement will undoubtedly hinder progress on this front and could prevent global targets from being met.

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