With the building sector already accounting for around 20% of climate change emissions, a new analysis published this week has warned that its energy demand is likely to double by mid-century if actions are not taken now to make buildings more sustainable.
This is the primary conclusion from a new Climate Action Tracker analysis published this week entitled Constructing the Future: Will the building Sector Use its Decarbonisation Tools (PDF). The Climate Action Tracker is an independent scientific analysis conducted by three research organizations, Ecofys, Climate Analytics, and the NewClimate Institute, and backed by the ClimateWorks Foundation.
The analysis further concludes that the technologies required to make new buildings zero-emissions are all currently available, but the sector is not adapting to these new technologies fast enough. Emissions from buildings more than doubled between 1990 to 2010, and now represent 20% of all global emissions. Policies currently in place will likely see the building sector see its energy demand skyrocket by 50% by 2050 than in 2010. Further delayed action in adapting to zero-emissions new building methods will likely increase pressure on other sectors to reduce their own carbon emissions to take up the slack left by the building sector, as well as creating the need in the future to deliver negative emissions, all in an effort to keep global warming within the Paris Agreement’s temperature limits — an issue which has only heightened, according to a new UNEP report published today.
The Climate Action Tracker analysis therefore sets out a 1.5°C-compatible scenario for the building sector which would see all new buildings in the OECD built to zero-energy specifications by 2020, and all non-OECD buildings by 2025. The report also outlines methods for very high zero-emission renovation techniques.
“We have to start building ‘Paris Agreement-proof’ buildings today,“ said Karlien Wouters of Ecofys. “Given the long lifetimes of buildings, rapid action is especially important in this sector. Any inefficient buildings we construct today will have to be renovated at greater cost later, adding to the challenge we’re already facing in renovating the majority of the existing building stock.”
“The continued growth of emissions in the building sector is in direct contrast with the maturity of the technological solutions available — the tools have been there for decades, but the sector’s using them far too little,” added Sebastian Sterl of NewClimate Institute.