A new report has called for real estate and infrastructure to develop a global framework of principles to help meet emissions reductions targets.
Because infrastructure and buildings are “interdependent”, the built environment as a whole needs clearer, unified climate and sustainability targets for all asset types in all places, the Beyond Buildings report said.
Over the next 40 years, 230bn sq m of new buildings – equivalent to a city the size of Paris –will be constructed every week. But two-thirds of these constructions will be built in countries without building codes.
With the urban built environment accounting for three-quarters of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, both real estate and infrastructure have a significant shared responsibility to act, the report argued.
The WorldGBC said that buildings and infrastructure must consider three sustainability principles – climate action, health and wellbeing and the circular economy.
The report, released ahead of COP26, set out four requirements based on these principles that it said are fundamental to developing a global framework:
- Universal coverage: all built environment projects in every sector and jurisdiction should have a verifiable pathway to sustainable development
- Public advocacy: public delivery agencies globally should embed the requirements of the three principles in the procurement of built environment projects
- Investor advocacy: investors should demand these principles in any new project
- Deep and unprecedented collaboration: the building and infrastructure industries should consider the roles and responsibilities for embedding and assuring the delivery of three principles in the built environment
The framework should apply to both “horizontal” projects – transportation, power and communication and subterranean infrastructure – and “vertical” ones – buildings, surfaces and other structures.
By taking a unified approach, the built environment can “unlock improved sustainability outcomes” and accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, the WorldGBC said.
Cristina Gamboa, the organisation’s CEO, said: “In the lead up to the cities, regions and built environment day at COP26, the importance of considering all aspects of the built environment – both the buildings we live in and the infrastructure that supports them – is critical for taking a holistic and systemic approach to climate action and sustainable development.
“If we’re to build a better, brighter future, the infrastructure sector needs to de-link its growth from emissions by embracing a systemic approach, which delivers sustainable built environments for everyone everywhere.
“The Beyond Buildings report sets out a path forward to support the rapid adoption of best practice sustainability outcomes across the building, construction and infrastructure space. It identifies critical next steps for the deep transformation needed to meet 2030 reduction goals.”