Wednesday 3 December 2015 is an auspicious day for the built environment industry, especially those of us who are green at heart. It is the first “Buildings Day”, part of the COP21 conference in Paris and a chance for consultants and contractors, designers and developers to make their position known and commit to doing something positive regardless of the outcome in Paris. As part of this initiative, a wide-reaching array of commitments are being published by forward-thinking companies and institutions around the world. In the UK, the Green Building Council is taking a lead on this and, as well as issuing their “Collective Commitment”, is also coordinating corporate commitments from its members.
Two of the key aims of Buildings Day are to:
- align existing initiatives, partnerships, commitments and programmes, to achieve greater scale and increase the pace of efficiency actions; and
- catalyse stronger collaboration and target sectoral and cross sectoral climate action and solutions for all.
These two aims highlight not only the key mechanisms we need to engender as an industry but also the pertinent point that we already have the capability to achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions. It is the collaborative thinking and ultimately action that will deliver tangible change from within our industry and it is this aspect that we feel should be the focus for today and for the industry going forward.
We are pledging to:
“…provide an advisory role to support our fellow UK-GBC members achieve five of the most ambitious pledges. This will be brought about through provision of our time pro bono and our expertise to work together with each member in order to quantify the impact of what they hope to achieve in absolute terms and to help generate some tangible ideas and approaches at a strategic level to achieve the specified reduction.”
Making pledges is easy, realising what they mean, determining the best strategy to achieve them and quantifying the impact (without double-counting) are the key challenges.
Helping our fellow members overcome these hurdles will enable us to facilitate a much greater impact, whether this is through quantifying the actual CO2 reduction by measuring baseline emissions, auditing current performance and guiding on potential routes to implement improvements, or outlining tangible strategies to deliver on-site carbon neutrality by assessing the opportunities and constraints of the development, balancing demands with supply and mitigating the shortfalls. Through collaborative working, bringing together experience, passion and an open mind this is a great opportunity to deliver a significant impact as an industry and show that reducing CO2emissions from the UK built environment is something we’re all committed to achieving.
Looking at the wall of pledges so far highlights the array of challenges we face as an industry. There is a significant potential for innovative breakthroughs in design, construction and operation, whether through new processes and methodologies, or greater access to data, knowledge and experience. The members who have made commitments here show just how hopeful and forward-thinking our industry can be, even in the darkest days of government policy reform. Within all of this there is also the underlying feeling that no one company can do this on their own. These are collective commitments, from the membership, to change the status quo and, as UNEP put it, “…help to put the buildings and construction sector on the “below 2 °C path””.