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COP-26 and Buildings

Towards the end of last year, FOOTPRINT was established, a group that will welcome investors, operators, designers, and forward-thinking authorities in the buildings sector who are committed to aligning themselves and their industry with Net Zero. A carbon neutral buildings sector would be crucial in minimizing the damage caused by climate change, since 40% of global carbon emissions come, at present, from buildings.

As EP100 points out, businesses have a crucial role in “galvanising ambitious climate action and demonstrating that net zero is the growth story of the future.”[1] COP26 President Alok Sharma has called on businesses to outline a robust, short-term decarbonization strategy that will cover both direct and indirect emissions. She encourages busines leaders to sign the Business Ambition for 1.5C commitment, joining the Race to Zero, the largest ever non-governmental alliance for net zero.

In her address to business leaders last summer, President Sharma reiterated the important role that business will have in setting the agenda for a global transition to clean energy. She made four concrete requests. First,

We need more companies to commit to 100 per cent renewable sources by 2050 at the latest, through the ‘RE100’ initiative and the Powering Past Coal Alliance. So please, sign up to both initiatives.[2]

In the buildings sector, renewable energy alternatives will be crucial to reducing operational energy use and carbon emissions. The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) echoes this in its recent call to “commit to greening entire portfolios, not just individual buildings.”[3] Second:

Zero emission road transport… Join the EV100 campaign and commit to all of the vehicles you own or operate being zero-emission by 2030.

One of the main benefits of IoT-enabled facilities management is predictive and preventive maintenance; faults can be repaired only when needed, and repairs can often be done without the need for visits to site. This in turn reduces the number of journeys taken by engineers and site staff. Third:

Sign up to the recommendations of the TCFD to build a greener and more resilient financial system. Please, join the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment to help transform infrastructure investment, by integrating climate risks into decision making.

As we have noted already, there is a growing trend towards ESG investment in real estate: investors are looking more and more to the financial benefits of sustainable investing, since green buildings hold their value better and cost less to operate. Finally:

My fourth and final ask is to urge you to join the Race to Zero Coalition… to ramp up momentum towards a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy.

COP26 will be a crucial moment in the economic recovery from COVID-19. It will also be crucial to Green Recovery that so many are predicting: in order for a Green Recovery to take full effect, the buildings sector will have to ramp up momentum on decarbonization, and any initiative that supports that goal should be championed.

[1] https://www.theclimategroup.org/our-work/events/cop26-european-climate-ambition-summit

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/cop26-president-alok-sharma-at-cop26-business-leaders-event

[3] https://www.ukgbc.org/news/its-time-to-think-big-lets-make-every-building-green/

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