July 16, 2024

Architectural Concepts Guide

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WEF Outlines Strategies To Clean Up Building Sector

3 min read

The World Economic Forum has outlined 11 strategies to reduce building emissions by 80 percent and potentially create $1.8 trillion in global market opportunities by 2030. China, as the world’s largest construction market, can lead sustainable change across the worldwide building industry. The report also identifies key barriers facing the sector, including gaps in regulations and industry standards, data management, advanced tech adoption, biomaterials, financing, and labour force upskilling. 

The r report sets out a plan for changing the global building sector to address climate change and preserve biodiversity. Given the fast urbanisation happening globally, particularly in emerging economies, the report makes a strong argument for reducing carbon emissions in the sector. It demonstrates how doing so could bring substantial economic benefits for those who take action early and have a positive environmental impact on everyone. 

“Towards Green Building Value Chains: China and Beyond,” published in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), identifies 11 strategic transition levers across the entire value chain of buildings. These levers, when combined, could unlock over 80 percent of the sector’s abatement potential and open up a $1.8 trillion market opportunity, according to the new research. 

Buildings account for 37 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and 34 percent of the Earth’s species are enduring habitat loss as a result of urban development. With rapid urbanisation, especially in emerging economies, expected to continue over the following decades, the report prescribes a wholesale approach to green transition throughout the global value chain of the construction sector and the entire life cycle of buildings, including construction, use and end of life. 

The report identifies four characteristics of a holistic vision for green buildings: 

1. Net zero – minimising whole-life emissions through innovative materials and technologies. 

2. Nature-positive – enhancing buildings’ environmental performance by integrating natural elements. 

3. Resilient – maximising buildings’ ability to withstand extreme weather and climate volatility. 

4. Well-being-oriented – boosting the physical and mental well-being of their occupants, enhancing community development, and ensuring access for all.

To achieve this vision, several critical enabling factors need to be addressed. These include further policies on regulation and industry standards, data, and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and biomaterials, as well as financing and upskilling support. 

As the largest building market in the world and with more than half of the global production capacity for many building materials, China plays a vital role in decarbonising the building industry, according to the report. The green transition of China’s building value chain will not only create value and new business opportunities for industry players in China, but it could also help catalyse the development and adoption of green building products and services globally. 

The report highlights case studies from businesses at different stages of the value chain, such as real estate developers, design firms, energy management system providers, and cement manufacturers. It also showcases best practices from China and other emerging economies, such as the United Arab Emirates and Brazil, in areas of material production, construction and operations, as well as policy tools that can be adopted or adapted by others. 

The report builds on the Net-zero Opportunities of Value-chain Actions (NOVA) project in China. The project promotes cooperation among upstream and downstream players across the entire value chain of key industries to pursue a coordinated net-zero transition in China. In its first phase, it has focused on two sectors: buildings and renewable energy.

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