RICS, architects, others in alliance to combat climate change in buildings

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam who was in Paris   |   21 December 2015   |   2:50 am  

The United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres (left); United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius; and President François Hollande of France after the Paris climate accord was adopted, recently                                   						           COURTESY: CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY

The United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres (left); United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius; and President François Hollande of France after the Paris climate accord was adopted, recently COURTESY: CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON/EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY

AN unprecedented global alliance has been launched in Paris to speed up and scale up the buildings and construction huge potential to reduce its emissions and literally build greater climate resilience into future cities and infrastructure.
  
The alliance, which gathers organizations from countries to cities, NGOs, public and private organizations, networks of professionals, of cities, of companies as well as financing institutions, announced the initiative at the Lima to Paris Action Agenda Focus on Buildings.
   
The members, consists of 18 countries and 60 organizations, including International Union of Architects (UIA) now represents, through national architecture organizations, close to 1,3 million architects worldwide; the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) represents 180000 building surveyors globally; the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) represents the construction sector employers through 33 national federations in 29 countries.   
  
Among other members are Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and the World Green Building Council (WGBC) represents 27000 companies involved in green buildings business worldwide.
    
The buildings and construction sector is responsible for 30 per cent of global CO2 emissions but it also has the potential to avoid about 3.2GtCO2 by 2050 through mainstreaming today’s available state-of-the-art policies and technologies. Reducing energy demand in the building sector is one of the most cost-effective strategies for achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions.
  
Real estate represents about 50 per cent of global wealth. Creating this transformation requires investing around an additional US$220 billion by 2020 – an almost 50 per cent increase on 2014 investment in energy efficient buildings – but less than 4 per cent of the current total global annual investment in construction activity ($8.5 trillion/yr). Returns on this investment could be as high as 124 per cent, if investments in ambitious policy and technology actions are being made now.
 
Nigeria may be gaining from the alliance as its professional groups – Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS) and Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) are members of the UIA and RICS. 
  
Speakers at the programme included UN Secretary General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, Joan Clos; President, International Union of Architects,   Esa Mohammed; Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP); Philippe Benoit, Head, Energy Efficiency and Environment Division, International Energy Agency (IEA) and Naoko Ishii, CEO & Chairperson, The Global Environment Facility (GEF).
  
As of today, 91 countries have included elements of commitments, national programme, or projects and plans relating to buildings in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the declarations by countries of what they are prepared to commit to.
  
With support and greater awareness, many more may realize the potential for the building sector to contribute to realizing national targets.  Yet, the building sector is very local and needs to align many different actors, which is a primary objective of the new alliance.
  
As cities keep on growing until more than 70 per cent of the global population will call urban areas home, it becomes crucial for the sector to reduce its emissions and literally build in greater resilience against climate change. Action will include: minimizing energy demand, greening the construction value chain,
integrating renewables through district energy, implementing integrated building design and urban planning, and engaging financing institutions.



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