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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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