A Call to Action

The Problem

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates building-related GHG emissions are expected to nearly double by the year 2030 under a high-growth development scenario.[1] This increase would take place almost entirely in the developing world, as energy consumption increases with the growing demand for housing, commercial office space, and other building types. Meanwhile, North America and Western Europe have thus far missed significant opportunities to address their own emissions from existing building stocks, and without action, are not projected to do so over the next 20 years. Comprehensive policies and strategies to make buildings more efficient would both avoid emission growth in the developing world and reduce it in industrialized nations.

Current and Projected Building Sector Emissions by World Region

Despite these facts, sustainable buildings have received alarmingly little attention on a global scale. Reducing and avoiding emissions from this sector can be achieved with available, off-the-shelf technologies, but the road to implementation is fraught with obstacles.[3] The various processes designed to facilitate technology cooperation, finance, and mitigation largely fail to address the nuanced problems in the building sector. For example, out of the 4,500 Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects submitted for review, only 14 address building efficiency.[4] Bilateral efforts often prioritize the building sector for joint action but are, by design, limited in their geographic focus.