Bogota city skyline
New energy codes in Bogotá have the potential to save the city an estimated 7.7m metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent

WorldGBC hails Latin America’s green policy progress

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Karl Tomusk

Work by Green Building Councils in Latin America have led to the introduction of four significant building efficiency policies and the development of 10 others across the region since 2019, the World Green Building Council has said in a new report.

Four policies have been approved in Mexico and Colombia, while another 10 are in development in Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala.

These policies are boosting energy savings across the built environment while also introducing new systems for monitoring performance and accessing data.

Given the size of the region – a population of 624 million, more than 80% of whom live in cities – introducing “ambitious” policies will be key in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, the WorldGBC said.

The report added: “The building and construction sector has a significant importance in the sustainability agenda, but it has traditionally been fragmented, slowing the scaling of innovation, improvements in productivity and best practice from one project to another.”

The organisation – along with scale-up partner P4G – set up the WorldGBC Cities Climate Action Project in 2019 with the aim of delivering projects and policies that promote resource efficiency in buildings.

Colombia and Mexico are the first countries to implement policies that have come out of the CCA.

Colombia

The country’s GBC played a role in updating Bogotá’s National Energy and Water Efficiency Building Code, requiring all new buildings to achieve 20% energy savings and 30% water savings starting in 2020.

The GBC estimates that the policy will improve the performance of 2.5 million homes that are expected to be built in the next 30 years.

Bogotá developed a measurement, review and verification online platform, allowing the city to create a baseline of water and energy consumption in buildings; track the implementation of energy and water policies in buildings; share information with other cities; and report the results of energy and water efficiency efforts in terms of greenhouse gas reductions.

The cities of Montería and Cali followed Bogotá in committing to stricter building regulations, and the GBC said a “successful national dialogue” has taken place to scale up the project. Meanwhile, the government has committed to developing a net-zero carbon roadmap for buildings.

Colombia GBC estimated that the implementation of three new energy codes in the country will reduce emissions by 7.7m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Mexico

In Campeche, the GBC designed an energy management system for the Government Palace with a goal of reducing energy consumption between 6-10%.

An estimated 23 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent will be saved per year in the government building, which the GBC said “demonstrates the authority’s commitment to energy efficiency in buildings as a cost-effective way to combat climate change”.

The state of Yucatán published energy efficiency regulations for public buildings in January 2020, which will apply to more than 2,900 buildings in the state. The standards establish a goal of cutting energy consumption by 5% in the first year.

Other developments

The CCA project has worked throughout Central America, supporting a range of ongoing developments in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Chile.

For example, Guatemala GBC is working on creating financial incentives for sustainable building, while Costa Rica GBC is contributing to the development of codes and standards to support a city masterplan that is under review.

The regulations in development in each country will give the private sector “the right set of signals to align their investments with the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals”, the WorldGBC said.

“Revolutionary change”

Cristina Gamboa, CEO of the WorldGBC, said: “The Climate Cities Action Project demonstrates the progress which can be made when we work together. The right partnerships and collaborative approaches are critical in unlocking the building and construction sector’s contribution to climate action and sustainable development.

“They bring us together, inspire innovation and turn ideas into tangible projects which benefit our communities, our cities and, of course, our world.”

Ian De Cruz, global director at P4G, added: “The WorldGBC Cities Climate Action Project is a true example of what partnerships can achieve. It demonstrates that when the governments and the private sector collaborate towards a common goal, in this case an energy efficient built environment which will sustain our way of life, revolutionary change can happen.”

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