More than 60 of the largest and most influential global architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, planning, and construction firms issued a document to government leaders attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26) challenging them to increase emissions reduction targets for the built environment.
The companies collectively put in place over $300 billion in annual construction, and the two dozen industry organizations represent more than one million building industry professionals worldwide. The letter urges governments to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree carbon budget.
Buildings are the largest source of the world’s carbon emissions globally, accounting for about 40% of total emissions. When embodied carbon of buildings is included, that percentage is substantially higher. Thus, decarbonizing the built environment is essential to achieving the goal of the Paris Agreement.
Progress made in the United States in reducing carbon emissions in the built environment is encouraging, though. The U.S. building sector has not increased its energy consumption since 2005, even though the nation added more than 50 billion sf of buildings during that time. Today, carbon emissions in the U.S. building sector continue to decline each year and are currently down 30% from 2005 levels.