Nineteen Cities Agree to Net Zero Carbon Buildings by 2030

           Carbon and Climate

A total of 19 global cities have agreed that all new buildings in their cities will operate at net zero carbon by 2030. In addition, policies will be put in place to ensure that all buildings meet the same standard by 2050, whether they are new or old. The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment will be officially launched at a global climate summit due to take place in San Francisco on 13th September. Cities that have signed up to the agreement include Copenhagen, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, and Tshwane.

Under the commitment, new buildings will be required to use energy efficiently, and the energy they do use will be from renewable sources. The World Green Building Council developed the zero carbon commitment, which it says will “aim to maximise the chances of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees by drastically reducing operating emissions from buildings”. The new commitment will not only help to meet carbon reduction targets under the Paris Agreement, but will also help to reduce air pollution, a major cause of health problems in big cities.

While the commitment currently focuses on the operating emissions from buildings, it is expected that over time it will progress to include embodied carbon, that is, the emissions emitted during the manufacture, transport, and construction of a building.

C40, a group of cities working to progress sustainability, orchestrated the pledge by the 19 cities. The group provides support via a range of programmes. It has recently launched an online tool that helps cities to understand the relationship between mitigation measures, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and adaptation measures, which help to protect from the effects of current and future extreme weather events. An example of how these requirements can both be addressed with one action is the planting of trees, which sequester carbon and reduce heat stress. The tool can also highlight possible conflicts of interest, for example where mitigation measures taken could actually have the effect of increasing emissions.

Speaking of the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said: “We want to make London a zero-carbon city by 2050, and we’re working hard to ensure its buildings are energy efficient and supplied with clean energy sources”.

Nikki Wilson

Nikki joined Alfa Energy in September 2015 as a Carbon Management Consultant where she advises clients on legislation, compliance, and the implementation of carbon management schemes. She is a Practitioner member of IEMA, has a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Decision Making, and has over 15 years’ experience in energy consultancy.