San Francisco, California, 13 September 2018 – Today, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) officially launched its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment) as part of the momentous Global Climate Action Summit, celebrating 38 founding signatories.
In an unprecedented statement of coordinated action from business and cities, states and regions, the 38 signatories, made up of 12 businesses, 22 cities and four states and regions, gathered at a dedicated session to signal the start of a leadership movement towards a decarbonised built environment.
Businesses across the world representing US$ 22.95 billion in revenue throughout the building and construction supply chain, have set ambitious targets to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their building portfolios of over 10.7 million square meters by 2030. This will create a wider market transformation to enable net zero carbon buildings by 2050.
Leaders from some of the world’s biggest cities plus two major regions, have committed to enact regulations and/or planning policy, that will require all new buildings within their jurisdiction to operate at net zero carbon from 2030; and all buildings, including existing, to operate at net zero carbon by 2050. Some cities, state and regional governments, have additionally committed to ensure the municipal assets they own, operate and develop are net zero carbon by 2030.
Their collective commitment provides strong evidence that industry, mayors and governors are willing to take drastic action to prevent catastrophic climate change and create more comfortable, healthy and future-proofed environments for their employees and residents to occupy. WorldGBC welcomed the following founding signatories of the Commitment:
- Business, recruited from the Green Building Council network – Majid Al Futtaim, property developer in the Middle East; Integral Group, global engineering firm; Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), lighting manufacturer; Cundall, global engineering firm; Kilroy Realty, real estate investment trust; Frasers Property Australia, major developer; AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund, property investment fund; Berkeley Group, residential property developer; Shaw Contract – Commercial division, flooring manufacturer; GPT Wholesale Office Fund, property investment fund; Stockland, property developer and Salesforce, a cloud computing company.
- Cities, recruited in partnership with C40 – Copenhagen, Denmark; Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg & Tshwane, South Africa; London, UK; Los Angeles, New York City, Newburyport, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica & Washington DC, USA; Medellin, Colombia; Montreal, Toronto & Vancouver, Canada; Paris, France; Stockholm, Sweden; Sydney, Australia; and Tokyo, Japan.
- States and regions, recruited in partnership with The Climate Group as secretariat for the Under2 coalition – Baden-Württemberg, Germany; Yucatan, Mexico; Navarra and Catalonia, Spain. Collectively, these organisations are committed to eliminating a cumulative total of 209 million tonnes of carbon emissions equivalent (CO2e) from their buildings by 2050. That is the equivalent of 44.7 million cars off the road for one year.
The Commitment drives the scale and pace of action necessary to reduce carbon emissions and requires a transformation in the way we design, build and operate buildings.
The aim is to inspire industry and governments to develop aggressive strategies to start the actions necessary for change, and to fulfil their obligations within the Commitment. Signatories are required to evaluate their current energy use and associated emissions across their portfolios; identify opportunities to reduce energy wastage and improve energy efficiency; power their buildings from renewable energy sources; and report on progress against decarbonisation targets. All signatories will be expected to meet high verification standards, in the lead up to and in the year of achievement of net zero carbon emission buildings, and report annually on progress.
Business signatories also commit to further advocate through their operations to eliminate carbon emissions, becoming enablers to radically transform the wider supply chain. For example, the Berkeley Group, who build 10% of London’s homes, have already achieved their target of becoming carbon positive (beyond net zero) for their own operations in 2018 but have committed further to ensure that all their developments achieve net zero by 2030 through transition planning. AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund, an AUD$5.7 billion fund that invests in Premium and A Grade core office assets in Australia, committed to be carbon neutral across its portfolio of 13 buildings by 2030, which will reduce 70,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
All city signatories have committed to enacting pioneering regulations and/or planning policy. Following the example of cities such as Vancouver’s Zero Emission Plan launched in 2016 which required all new buildings to have no operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The plan was developed specifically to ensure comfortable and healthy indoor environments, maximise local economic development, ensure long-term building resilience and to protect housing affordability. The plan will facilitate Vancouver’s Renewable City Strategy, which aims to ensure all buildings use only renewable energy by the year 2050.
The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment has been developed in partnership with a wide stakeholder group including Green Buildings Councils, The Climate Group and C40. Last month, C40 announced 19 cities from their network would be joining the Commitment across 9 countries. The Commitment forms part of EP100, a global corporate leadership initiative for energy-smart companies, delivered by The Climate Group in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy. Businesses signing the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment become EP100 members.
This Commitment is part of the WorldGBC global campaign Advancing Net Zero, launched in 2016. To enable all those who own, occupy and develop buildings to act on the Commitment, WorldGBC’s network of almost 70 Green Building Councils (GBCs) will continue to provide a range of transformational and capacity building support including advocacy, policy development, education and certification. Seven GBC net zero carbon buildings certification schemes have been launched, with a further six due to be released by 2019, helping to deliver local solutions to a global issue under a common WorldGBC definition.
WorldGBC’s next priority is to address embodied carbon, which is the carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacture, transport and construction of building materials, together with end of life emissions.
Embodied carbon emissions must reach net zero by 2050 in order to achieve a below 2 degree scenario, and ideally below 1.5 degrees.
Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council, said: “We are delighted at the ambition being demonstrated by this group of climate leaders. Our new partnerships with C40 and The Climate Group have enabled us to convene the world’s most pioneering organisations in net zero carbon buildings, and bring company CEOs, city mayors and state governors onto the same stage, committing action towards a common cause. Our vision of a net zero emissions future is within reach, if we all work together to overcome the challenges.
“Taking this leap has taken a phenomenal effort from the founding signatories, and we applaud them for their leadership and compel others to join us on this exciting journey. Our Green Building Councils are ready to support each and every signatory as we work together to towards decarbonising the built environment.”
Patricia Espinosa, GCAS Co-Chair, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, said: “We welcome WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment as a catalyst towards rapidly greening our homes and the places where we work and play.”
Troy Virgo, Director of Sustainability and Product Stewardship, Shaw Contract said: “The challenges of climate change are global in scale and require a global response. No one company can solve problems at this scale by itself, but we can each contribute to an effort that enables all of us to create a net zero future. Shaw Contract is proud of this latest partnership with the World Green Building Council to create a cleaner, healthier and more livable planet that stands to improve quality of life for all through the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.”
Amie Shuttleworth, Global Director of Sustainability for Cundall said: “This initiative aligns perfectly with our sustainability strategy ‘One Planet, One Chance’, with one of our six impacts we are focusing on being Climate Positive Action by 2025. With 20 offices globally, being a founding signatory to the initiative which focuses the industry globally to reach an ambitious but achievable target, we are confident that our designers can collaborate with our clients and fellow designers to achieve a future of net zero emissions.”
Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 Cities said: “To deliver on the highest ambition of the Paris agreement and keep global temperature rise below 1.5℃, the construction sector must be transformed. By mid-century all buildings must be operating at zero carbon emissions, a radical shift from the situation today where 39% of global emissions are generated by construction and buildings. In cities, this figure is often much higher. The commitment of these 22 mayors to ensure all buildings in their cities are net zero carbon by 2050 is a vital first step and we hope many more cities will follow their lead. Now we need investors, developers and businesses to step up their ambition to implement the standards being put in place by city halls around the world. That is why the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment has such potential to transform the homes we live in, the offices we work in and the cities that we love.”
Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney said: “At the City of Sydney, we’ve been carbon neutral since 2007, and certified since 2011. In the face of shocking inaction by National Government here in Australia, we are
proud to commit to even more ambitious climate action in the lead up to the Global Climate Action Summit. We can only achieve these targets by working with our residents and the commercial and corporate sectors. Australia is among the highest producers of greenhouse gas emissions per capita, so it is heartening that some of Australia’s major corporations lead the world in sustainability. And with many now setting more ambitious energy efficiency and net zero targets, I’m confident we will sustain that position.”
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City said: “Climate change poses an existential threat to New York City, and making our buildings more sustainable and efficient is a key part of the solution. With this commitment, we’re delivering on our promise to make New York City cleaner and safer for generations to come by meeting the Paris agreement. We’re proud to stand alongside other cities worldwide that are taking bold and meaningful steps to cut the pollution driving climate change.”
Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, said: “From Spanish regions to real estate and engineering, leading governments and companies are eliminating the climate impact of their buildings. Energy efficiency will be key to their success – a sound financial investment that lowers greenhouse gas emissions.”
She added, “Businesses and governments will need to collaborate to deliver on their goals. We look forward to working with WorldGBC, to highlight the progress being made and inspire many others to step up on climate action.”
Minister Damià Calvet, Minister of Territory and Sustainability for Catalonia said “30% of the energy consumption in Catalonia takes place in buildings, therefore, is a key area of action to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. The Government of Catalonia requires updating energy assessments and emissions inventory and applying reduction measures according to its Energy Efficiency Plan and Climate Change
Dr Eduardo Batllori, Minister of Urban Development and Environment of Yucatan, said “We must accelerate our efforts to move towards low-carbon development models to meet our generational obligation in the fight against climate change.”