Building sector must hit ‘net zero carbon’ by 2050 warns World Green Building Council

According to a new report by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the building sector, which is responsible for global emissions roughly equivalent to that of China, must operate at “net zero carbon” by 2050 if global warming is to remain under two degrees Celsius, the limit enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

There are currently 500 net zero commercial buildings and 2,000 net zero homes around the globe (well under 1 per cent of all buildings worldwide).

Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council said: “We need nothing short of a dramatic and ambitious transformation from a world of thousands of net zero buildings, to one of billions if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” said “Businesses, governments and NGOs hold the key to this transformation, but they must commit to aggressive action. It is possible to create a world in which every single building produces zero carbon emissions, but we must start today.”

The International Energy Agency estimates that the current global building stock is 223 billion square meters, and will almost double to 415 billion square meters by 2050. According to the Global Alliance for Building and Construction, current renovation rates amount to less than one percent of the existing building stock each year. To achieve universal net zero carbon in the building sector by 2050, renovation rates must increase by 3 per cent every year starting in 2017, and must accelerate for every year of delay.

Net zero buildings not only help in the fight against climate change, but can create jobs, improve energy security, and lower energy costs, adds the report.