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Global building emissions reached record levels in 2021

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Global building emissions reached record levels in 2021

Carbon-dioxide emitted from the operations and construction of buildings worldwide have grown despite efficiency efforts.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 13, 2022
Global building emissions reached record levels in 2021
Photo: Pixabay

Carbon-dioxide emissions from building construction and operations hit an all-time high in 2021, according to the most recent data compiled by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.

Energy-related emissions from operation reached 10 gigatons of CO2 equivalent, 5% higher than 2020 levels, and 2% more than the pre-pandemic peak in 2019. Operational energy demand in buildings for heating, cooling, lighting, and equipment rose about 4% from 2020 levels.

While investments in building energy efficiency increased 16% last year to $237 billion, the growth in floor space outpaced efficiency efforts. Buildings were the source of 37% of global CO2 emissions in 2021. This includes emissions derived from production of concrete, steel, glass, and other materials.

Construction activities in most major economies returned last year to pre-pandemic levels and energy use rose as offices reopened. More emerging economies also increased their use of fossil fuels in buildings.

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Office Buildings

‘Chicago’s healthiest office tower’ achieves LEED Gold, WELL Platinum, and WiredScore Platinum

Goettsch Partners (GP) recently completed 320 South Canal, billed as “Chicago’s healthiest office tower,” according to the architecture firm. Located across the street from Chicago Union Station and close to major expressways, the 51-story tower totals 1,740,000 sf. It includes a conference center, fitness center, restaurant, to-go market, branch bank, and a cocktail lounge in an adjacent structure, as well as parking for 324 cars/electric vehicles and 114 bicycles.




K-12 Schools

School districts are prioritizing federal funds for air filtration, HVAC upgrades

U.S. school districts are widely planning to use funds from last year’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) to upgrade or improve air filtration and heating/cooling systems, according to a report from the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The report, “School Facilities Funding in the Pandemic,” says air filtration and HVAC upgrades are the top facility improvement choice for the 5,004 school districts included in the analysis.

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