How the built environment can respond to COP27 with innovation


This year’s COP27 saw the scientific community agree that the planet is on track for a three degrees warmer world. Countries must do all they can to act on their commitments – the resounding message continues to be to take action now. 

Organisations, industries and nations must move beyond commitments and targets to actions and real change.

By Rebecca Jinks, ESG & Sustainability Director, Taronga Ventures

The most interesting topics for the real estate industry include:

  1. Loss and damage
  2. The role of technology 
  3. Net zero and resilient buildings 

Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN climate change high-level champion for Egypt stated at COP27: “The built environment (including infrastructure) is a critical sector to achieve the needed transition to a resilient and zero emissions future. Buildings are responsible for almost 40 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50 per cent of all extracted materials.”

Sustainable communities

This year’s conference saw the launch of the Sustainable Communities Initiative: Building for Better Lives.

The workshop was attended by UN agencies, multilateral development banks, civil society organisations including real estate groups, the climate champions network, think tanks and researchers, as well as city leaders and networks. 

Its primary function and ambition is to mitigate the contribution of buildings and infrastructure to global warming through green and sustainable standards. Broader objectives identified by the conference include urban energy, urban waste, urban mobility and urban water. 

The key challenges identified by the Sustainable Communities Initiative

The function of the initiative to address these challenges will likely require building and infrastructure owners, occupiers/users and developers to:

  • utilise green building standards to signal and understand the carbon efficiency of the property
  • generate and purchase green forms of energy for operations
  • consider retrofits rather than demolition and new builds to reduce embodied carbon
  • utilise low-carbon building materials to reduce associated embodied carbon with developments

Encouragingly, the linkage between decarbonisation and technology as a tool is clear. Not only at the building level, but also at the national and global level by the wider COP27 conference.

So, what can be done?

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