The United Nations Environment Programme and the International Energy Agency estimates that by 2060, the world is projected to add 230 billion m2 (2.5 trillion ft2) of buildings, or an area equal to the entire current global building stock. This is the equivalent of adding an entire New York City, to the planet every 34 days for the next 40 years or adding the equivalent of Paris to the planet every single week.2
The United Nations Environment Programme and the International Energy Agency estimates that buildings and construction account for more than 35% of global final energy use and nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.3
It is apparent that the building sector has a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to limit the rise in the global temperature by 1.5 °C as established by the Paris Agreement.4 A significant increase in the rate and depth of implementing decarbonization solutions, energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings, and the generation and procurement of renewable energy (energy upgrades) is required.5
While there is a strong understanding of how to reduce the operational emissions associated with buildings, greater attention to lessening the embodied emissions of buildings is required. Carbon used in the production of materials or construction of buildings is emitted earlier than carbon in operations, and consequently has a larger, immediate impact on climate. Embodied Carbon will be responsible for almost half of total new construction emissions between now and 2050.6
It is estimated that 36 billion gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) was emitted in 2016.7 That’s the equivalent of 14,400,000 Olympic-sized pools of carbon dioxide, in a single year.
These efforts must also be coupled with re-sequestering carbon as much as possible to help reverse effects of global warming. The solutions are available today; we just need to deploy this expertise.
Carbon neutrality, net zero carbon footprint, Zero Carbon are commonly used terms that refer to achieving net zero carbon emissions or zero carbon balance. This is demonstrated by balancing a measured amount for carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset through buying enough carbon credits from renewable energy sources, to make up the difference8. The phrase Negative Emissions or decarbonizing refers to sequestering or drawing down carbon from the atmosphere thus removing it from the carbon cycle.9
“ZERO CARBON BUILDING STANDARD.” Canada Green Building Council. (https://www.cagbc.org/cagbcdocs/zerocarbon/CaGBC_Zero_Carbon_Building_Standard_EN.pdf)