Addressing CO2 emissions in the built environment is critical in combatting climate change. Yet despite the urgency of the effort and the potential benefits to building occupants, roughly 80 percent of the energy savings potential in buildings globally remains untapped, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI). In response, WRI has launched the Building Efficiency Accelerator, a public-private collaboration that turns global expertise into action to accelerate local government implementation of building efficiency policies and programs. Their target: a zero-carbon building sector by 2050.
Four Strategies to Action
The Building Efficiency Accelerator will focus on four strategies to reach the goal of eliminating building sector CO2 emissions: outreach, dialogue, planning, and enabling action. Working with national and local governments, the group will map potential building decarbonization pathways and secure public commitments to zero-carbon buildings. It will also work with local utilities and the private sector to gain input on how to achieve its goals. The group will then use that input to develop zero-carbon action plans that accelerate market transformation.
The Building Efficiency Accelerator has secured commitments from many cities globally, including Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The city has agreed to work through its comprehensive Better Buildings Challenge program for commercial building owners to target a 20 percent reduction in commercial building emissions over a decade and offer incentives and financing through its PACE financing program. The city has also agreed to reduce emissions in government-owned buildings by an equal percentage and provide training and support to building owners and occupants on actions to reduce emissions. Milwaukee will also provide technical services to identify energy efficiency equipment and train the next generation workforce to support efficient building operations. Additionally, it will refine its ECO Building Design Guidelines and pilot them in construction projects, making improvements based on experience and feedback.
Why It Matters
Buildings are among the most significant contributors to climate change, resulting in nearly 40 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions. There is a vast untapped opportunity for improvement in the sector, and work must accelerate to meet the CO2 emission-reduction goals by 2050. While the pathway to the emissions reduction goal is formidable, it brings enormous benefits, according to an International Energy Agency Report, Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.
Whether it’s the commercial or residential building sector, we must get smarter and more aggressive in tackling the challenge of better, more efficient buildings. In the coming weeks, we will spotlight additional efforts that building industry professionals are engaging in to address emissions reduction in the sector.
Pictured: City of Milwaukee skyline.