Building construction and operations are among the largest contributors to climate change, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions globally. The global building stock is set to double by 2060 due to population growth and urbanization, which could further contribute to a warming world. Without dramatic energy efficiency improvements and energy decarbonization, projected energy demand from buildings will continue to drive massive absolute increases in carbon emissions.

Paradoxically, buildings are also the biggest, most cost-effective climate mitigation solution available. Every $1 invested in efficiency saves $2 in new electricity generation and distribution costs. Despite their extraordinary potential, 80% of economically viable energy savings in buildings remain untapped. To meet carbon reduction and resilience goals, the world’s building stock must reach net zero by 2050.

The Zero Carbon Building Accelerator builds on WRI’s success with the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) to bring new ambition and build on the lessons, expertise and resources of the BEA with a broader mandate to support decarbonizing the world’s buildings by 2050.

The Zero Carbon Building Accelerator helps governments eliminate building sector CO2 emissions through four strategies:

1. Outreach: We work with national and local governments to map potential building decarbonization pathways and adopt public commitments on zero carbon buildings.

2. Dialogue: We explore how to achieve zero carbon building commitments through facilitated policy dialogues with national and local governments, utilities, the private sector and civil society.

3. Planning: We develop and initiate short- and medium-term action plans and long-term national roadmaps linked to nationally determined contributions and other national strategies to achieve zero carbon buildings by 2050.

4. Enabling Action: We develop and initiate adoption of policies to support stakeholders to accelerate market transformation towards zero carbon buildings.

Scaling Up Impact

At the subnational level, the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator and participating ministries will engage jurisdictions in Colombia, Turkey and additional countries to develop and implement action plans aligned with national roadmaps. These plans will build on existing city goals and priorities.

Working in consultation with diverse stakeholders, WRI will also provide a global forum to explore common challenges and opportunities related to building decarbonization. For example, informal housing may bring specific decarbonization challenges and require different pathways than institutional and commercial buildings. Project partners will also work with regional development banks and financial institutions to pursue new business models and financial solutions to support building decarbonization.

Lessons learned in developing roadmaps, action plans, policies and programs at the national and subnational level will inform scalable, replicable pathways for ambitious climate action in the building sector.

Photo credit: Andrewglaser/Wikimedia Commons