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Construction sector could go carbon neutral by 2050

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The building and construction sector could become carbon neutral and reach net zero emissions by 2050 according to findings from a new report.

The World Green Building Council (WGBC) issued the Bringing embodied carbon upfront report, which proposes the goal with solutions to accelerate action by the construction supply chain.

WGBC aims to fully decarbonise the sector, which it says is responsible for 39 per cent of carbon emissions worldwide.

The report has been endorsed by representatives from developers and construction companies, financial institutions, city networks and government, as well as industry representatives from concrete steel and timber.

It also calls for coordinated action from across the sector to dramatically change how buildings are designed, built, used and demolished.

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WGBC CEO, Cristina Gamboa, said the report is a solution focused response to the urgent need to reduce upfront emissions in the construction sector and demand action across carbon intensive industries and materials.

“With the support of our global network and the endorsements we have received for the report, we are confident that we can stimulate market demand and facilitate radical whole value chain collaboration that will be truly transformative and benefit both people and planet,” Gamboa said.

“We will accelerate action to achieve our goal of slashing embodied carbon by 40 per cent by 2030 and securing net zero embodied carbon by 2050, in addition to our net zero operational carbon goals.”

Goals outlined in the report for developers include committing to relevant industry roadmaps and disclosure of supply chain data for structural elements, setting embodied carbon reduction targets and tracking construction site emissions and using energy and resource efficient processes.

Designers are urged to commit to integrate low embodied carbon design at the conceptual design stage, publicly share lifecycle assessment data, propose best practice embodied carbon reduction targets and implement circularity principles.

Policymakers are urged to start developing a strategy to achieve a net zero embodied carbon level, implement targets for public buildings, renovations and infrastructure, and set progressive targets that specify when they will become mandatory.

Finland’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Krista Mikkonen said tackling whole life carbon and achieving circularity in the construction sector is key for a carbon neutral world.

“The Finnish Ministry of the Environment already launched its Low Carbon Construction Roadmap in 2017, paving the way for ambitious legislation. Our national goal is to reach carbon neutrality by 2035 and carbon negativity shortly thereafter,” Mikkonen said.

Multiplex Executive Director, Stephen Smith, said the specific, ambitious and evidence-backed actions being called for from all stakeholders across the value chain will ultimately generate much needed sustainable outcomes for the sector.

“Embodied carbon is an often overlooked but critical component in the building lifecycle, and must urgently be addressed,” he said.

“Multiplex is very proud to be leading the way in creating positive impact, and will continue to explore and hopefully enable sustainability solutions with our business partners and peers.”

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