WASHINGTON (June 22, 2021) — Buildings are one of the largest contributors to climate change, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related CO2 emissions. But they are also the biggest, most cost-effective climate mitigation solution available – making up 58% of urban mitigation potential. Today, World Resources Institute, with support from the Global Environment Facility, UN Environment Programme and World Green Building Council, among others, launched the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator (ZCBA) to speed up the transition to zero-carbon, efficient buildings around the world. 

The Zero Carbon Building Accelerator will coordinate the development of national roadmaps and action plans toward a zero-carbon building sector by 2050, beginning in partner countries Colombia and Turkey and eventually spreading throughout the expansive network of subnational partners to the Building Efficiency Accelerator. Lead project partner cities Bogotá and Santiago de Calí in Colombia, and Gaziantep and Konya in Turkey, will pilot the development of aligned local action plans.

“For people and the planet, we know how important it is not only to improve building efficiency but to reach net zero emissions,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility. “The GEF is proud to build on five years of work with WRI’s Buildings Initiative and the UN Environment Programme through the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator. Together we look forward to pushing further toward a decarbonized global building sector and supporting new pathways to a low carbon future for ambitious countries and cities alike.” 

Every $1 invested in efficiency alone saves $2 in new electricity generation and distribution costs. Yet despite their extraordinary potential to drive a more sustainable future, 80% of economically viable energy savings in buildings remain untapped. To meet carbon reduction and climate resilience goals, the world’s building stock must be zero-carbon by 2050. 

“With the building and construction sector responsible for almost 40% of our energy and process-related greenhouse gas emissions, taking joint action to realize a zero-carbon future has never been more important,” said Martina Otto, Chief a.i., Energy and Climate Branch (UNEP) and Head of the GlobalABC Secretariat, UN Environment Programme. “The Global Alliance for Building and Construction (GlobalABC) has united the sector to chart the way forward, with its global and regional roadmaps, and facilitates an exchange of members who are now translating these plans to reality at the national level. The ZCBA is playing a crucial role in this.”

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

  • Outreach: Working with national and local governments to map potential building decarbonization pathways and adopt public commitments on zero-carbon buildings.
  • Dialogue: Exploring how to achieve zero-carbon building commitments through facilitated policy dialogues with national and local governments, utilities, the private sector and civil society.
  • Planning: Developing and initiating 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.
  • Enabling Action: Developing and initiate adoption of policies to support stakeholders to accelerate market transformation towards zero-carbon buildings.

“To ensure the success of this initiative, working together with local governments is fundamental. For this reason, Bogotá and Calí will be part of the project with the country's traditional and sustainable construction trade associations in order to build specific action plans that include monitoring systems and business models,” said Nicolás Galarza, Deputy Minister of Environment and Territorial Development, Colombia. “With this project, which is aligned with our Long-Term Climate Strategy, we seek to contribute to the fulfillment of our international commitments on climate change, such as the implementation of the NDC.” 

Since 2015, World Resources Institute’s Buildings Initiative has led the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA), a global partnership in support of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative to assist national and subnational governments with policy and programming to improve energy efficiency. The Zero Carbon Building Accelerator builds on this success and takes lessons, expertise and resources from the BEA to new ambitions, with a broader mandate to support global implementation of urgent climate goals through decarbonizing the world’s buildings by 2050. 

“Getting to zero-carbon in buildings by 2050 requires the alignment of national ambition with local implementation on the ground,” said Clay Nesler, Global Lead for Buildings and Energy, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. “The Zero Carbon Building Accelerator will assist countries and cities in defining viable pathways for action including policy development, capacity building and financial support.”

“Turkey supports global efforts like the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator which integrate climate change policies in development policies,” said Güneş Cansız, Director of WRI Türkiye Sustainable Cities. “The Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization is making significant environmental investments to reduce its ecological footprint, and to mitigate the adverse impacts of environmental pollution and global climate change.”

Learn more about the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator here


World Resources Institute
WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries, with international offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States, regional offices in Ethiopia (for Africa) and the Netherlands (for Europe), and program offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Our more than 1,400 experts and staff turn big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity and human well-being. More information at www.wri.org.