Chapter 7
Make carbon visible through improved data access and quality
Make carbon visible through improved data access and quality
Adapt norms and standards to allow for the use of alternative or lower-carbon building materials and construction practices
Accelerate the industry transition
Ensure a just transition
Strengthen international action and collaboration for collective impact

Set the vision, lead by example and improve multilevel governance

7.1.1 Rallying all stakeholders behind the whole life cycle approach

‍Since it is critical for actors in the buildings and construction sector to work towards the implementation of a whole life-cycle approach to buildings and construction, policy makers should start by taking stock of the current situation and practices in order to bring diverse stakeholders of the buildings and construction value chain behind a common vision to overcome the fragmentation in the sector, and ramp up both the level of action and ambition towards decarbonizing buildings along their life-cycle and make them durable and climate resilient. Box 7.1 highlights GlobalABCGlobal and Regional Roadmaps as an example product of stakeholder engagement.  

Box 7.1

GlobalABC Roadmaps for Buildings and Construction

The GlobalABC Global and Regional Roadmaps for Buildings and Construction in Africa, Asia and Latin America help set pathways to decarbonisation of the buildings and construction sector by 2050. These roadmaps are being cascaded to sub-regional, national and sub-national levels leaping forward towards implementation in over 30 countries/jurisdictions. The roadmaps are developed through participative stakeholder engagement process and present a comprehensive approach to emission reductions from the built environment along the full life cycle, with aspirational short and medium term and longer-term targets goals.

See Roadmaps for Buildings and Construction | GlobalABC

Key Action

Institutionalise stakeholder coordination and develop national and sub-national roadmaps and action plans for the decarbonisation of the built environment

Initiate a country-led stakeholder engagement process that helps to bring all actors of the value chain together to identify actions and priorities to transform the buildings and construction sector (e.g. following the model of GlobalABC’s Roadmaps for Buildings and Construction).

Establish and institutionalise a coordination mechanism to facilitate collaboration and synergies between actors, facilitate collaborative actions/synergies and ensure these are not affected by short-term political cycles.

7.1.2 Harness Public Procurement to Support Decarbonisation of Materials

The public sector can play a leading role in enabling building material decarbonisation through its procurement powers. Public procurement expenditures – government purchases of materials, products and services – comprise up to 13 per cent of gross domestic product in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, with even higher shares in developing economies (Baron 2016). The impact of public procurement in generating more sustainable growth is outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 12 (Target 12.7).

Policy goals for decarbonisation must be formally linked to the purchasing of materials, with additional budgets in the planning phases for rigorous whole life-cycle assessments for public projects, in order to improve the data on the impact of material choices and serve as examples for effective solutions across specific local climate types. In regions where the vast majority of builders have neither the means nor the inclination to conduct such analyses, public works projects serve as especially critical examples for demonstrating the principles of “Avoid, Shift and Improve” as outlined in this report.

Practical strategies include tenders with life-cycle costing in value-for-money assessments, which include the cost of externalities such as CO2. Market dialogues and international collaboration can support both material procurers and producers across the supply chain in formulating innovative tenders, and encourage new business models that provide services to support reductions in material use and environmental impacts (Baron 2016).

Key Action

Link public procurement with decarbonisation practices.

Formally link policy goals for decarbonisation to the purchasing of materials.

Provide for additional budgets in the planning phases for rigorous life-cycle assessments for public projects and publish the results to improve the quality and quantity of data on the impact of material choices and to demonstrate solutions across climate types and building traditions.

Issue tenders that include life-cycle costing in value-for-money assessments, which include the cost of externalities such as CO2.

Convene market dialogues and international collaboration to support both material procurers and producers across the supply chain in formulating innovative tenders.

Encourage new business models that support reductions in material use and environmental impacts.

7.1.3 Empower cities and municipalities as drivers of change

Governments must improve multilevel governance frameworks and mechanisms to better implement and enforce buildings and construction regulations which support whole lifecycle approaches and low carbon material efficiency strategies. Cities must be empowered to implement and enforce decarbonisation policies in collaboration with national and sub-national government institutions as part of their local action plans for buildings and construction. They need to promote sustainable energy solutions and encourage passive design, circularity, nature-based and neighbourhood level solutions, incentivizing buildings and construction industry stakeholders as change agents. As champions for implementing and enforcing climate policies and targets, cities are uniquely placed to catalyse this transition through their jurisdiction over land use, authority over housing programmes, role in implementing national policies and building codes, and their role in coordinating with local utilities and stakeholders.

The public sector is often in the best position to implement decarbonisation plans at local or district scale. It can have maximum impact for new development, since strategies for individual buildings can be integrated in synergy with the design of sustainable, electrified grids for the management of energy, water, waste and transport. Policies and ambitious targets from local and national governments establish leading precedents for integrated decarbonisation across multiple scales of infrastructure and buildings  (see Box 6.2 on Helsinki). This is only possible if material choices and urban planning avoid driving up cooling demands through the creation of urban heat islands and instead lowers the overall operational carbon of cities by mandating biomass materials and other cool surfaces.

Key Action

Implement coordinated decarbonisation actions at the local or district scale.

Implement local or neighbourhood-level building decarbonisation plans for coordinated action by establishing grid integration schemes and local material banks for and renovating building envelopes or new constructions with low carbon circular or biobased materials.

Create incentives at the local level to overcome initial and ongoing maintenance costs.

Key Action

Mandate the use of living systems and biomass to protect urban climates

Include minimum requirements in building codes for vegetated surfaces for urban-scale buildings.

Provide incentives for smaller buildings to incorporate locally appropriate plant species into roofs and façades.