What COP21 means for green buildings in Asia

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The COP 21 forum hosted in Paris recently has brought forward the issues around climate change to a new level of attention and has reached a  historical momentum. 193 countries from participating in the event had all agreed in joining the fight against climate change, signing the first ever global pact committing to collectively cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution but imposing no sanctions on countries that don’t. Asian countries, by all means, are showing even more commitment through different initiatives launched during the conference.

The new Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction was launched during the event, where a number of Asian countries such as  Japan, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam, along with other 16 countries in other regions aim to accelerate and scale up the huge potential of buildings and construction sector to reduce its emissions for greater climate resilience, and keep the global warming below 2°C.

Energy efficiency in buildings

Around 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to energy use in buildings. These days, many Asian countries make reference to the efficiency of their buildings plan, however, only several take significant actions in the buildings sector.

Japan, India and other Asian countries that have included buildings in their Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDCs) recognize that buildings represent an often-overlooked opportunity to advance both human development and climate goals. Their sustainability plan, as part of their INDC, is to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings through retrofitting projects, which in this case are usually public buildings.

The building sector also can even further help out the mitigation of global emissions peaking by 2030 through adoption of policies and market strategies that promote net-zero emissions buildings, renewable energies, and deep energy efficiency retrofitting. It has also been more widely admitted that implementing energy efficiency measures in the buildings show the benefits in terms of energy savings and higher quality of life, which in the long run, would help ease sustainability issues.

Impact of COP21 for green buildings in Asia

The discussions during the conference made it clear that the buildings sector can deliver results in terms of global climate and sustainable development goals. As described in the agreement, the building sector can contribute to global emissions peaking by 2030 if they adapt policies and market strategies that mainstream net-zero emissions in buildings, integrate renewable energies and enable deep energy efficiency retrofitting projects.

Developing countries, particularly in Asia, have huge capabilities within the building sector to address the capacity, technology and financing needs of the nation – but also to tackle climate change as well. There is a particular need for urgent intervention to achieve net-zero new buildings in rapidly urbanizing markets such as China and India.

Buildings Day takes on a big role in helping the building & construction industry and worldwide policy makers (especially in Asia) to implement action and keep track on the progress to achieve each nation’s specific goals. COP21 has indeed shed some spotlight on the building sector, particularly on how to deliver low carbon solutions.

Although some countries in Asia have shown stronger commitment in the initiative and fight against the climate change with emphasis on the building and construction sector, involvement by more countries in the region are still required and hoped for in the next future to accelerate the global green impact.

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