Net Zero Built Environment Council launched

Net Zero Built Environment Council is launched. Image by George Howden on Unsplash.

Global management consulting firm McKinsey has announced the launch of a Net Zero Built Environment Council.

The council is a cross-sector coalition of industry stakeholders to collaboratively create new pathways to cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. 

McKinsey says the life cycle of buildings is responsible for approximately 40% of global CO₂ emissions, making the built environment among the highest GHG emitters, above electricity production, shipping and aviation.

The new council will bring together stakeholders across the built environment value chain, from industry leaders to scale-ups, to stimulate investment, deployment, and scaling of new materials and technologies that will help reduce emissions at all stages of the building life cycle. 

The launch of the council will support stakeholders to create and commercialise new green innovations, create global sustainability metrics and research and promote cost-effective pathways to decarbonizing everything from construction methods to materials. 

It aims to align siloed supply chains, construction projects and markets, and help industry players to tap into an estimated US$800bn-US$1,900bn in potential green markets.  

The launch of the Net Zero Built Environment Council comes alongside the release of a new McKinsey report that identifies a lack of collaboration within the built environment ecosystem as a key obstacle to decarbonization. 

McKinsey’s research finds that 76% of emissions from an average building are caused by operations, demonstrating a need for collaborative decarbonization across the entire built environment life cycle, not just during construction. 

The report found that half of all emissions across the built environment could be eliminated with little extra cost, while 20% will be more costly and complex to decarbonize, such as cement and steel, requiring more industry partnerships to reduce costs and risks for all new materials and technologies. 

Brodie Boland, partner at McKinsey, said: “Reducing lifecycle emissions will require collaborations and partnerships across industries to cost-efficiently build and scale new innovations from green cement to hydrogen boilers. 

“Yet the built environment is currently a fragmented landscape of separate localised markets, suppliers and building codes as well as disjointed construction processes with unequal accountability. 

“With net zero requiring a threefold increase in the pace of decarbonization, the new council aims to unite all key players to accelerate decarbonization by collectively transforming the way we design, build, operate and decommission buildings.”

To help catalyse these changes, the Net Zero Built Environment Council aims to:

  • Map out transparent net-zero pathways - research and promote the most quick and cost-effective pathways to decarbonization of the built world from equipment electrification to low-carbon material substitutes.
  • Spread awareness on what is doable - lower barriers to decarbonization, capture the interest of decision-makers and spur positive pressure to accelerate climate action.
  • Cross-sector partnerships - cross-sector climate partnerships to share resources and collectively commercialise green technologies at global scale or form lighthouse projects.

To read McKinsey’s findings in detail, click here

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