Episode 46: What is the Post COP27 Roadmap for the Built Environment?

todayNovember 14, 2022


What is the Post COP27 Roadmap for the Built Environment? With a Panel of Top Experts

COP26 saw the first-ever Built Environment Day

COP26 in Glasgow saw the first-ever Built Environment Day. Considering that one of the most shared statistics states that approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions can be traced to constructing and maintaining buildings, some of you might be wondering if this is too little, too late.

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Roland Hunziker, director of sustainable buildings and cities at the WBSCD, described built-environment emissions as “the sleeping giant.”

Our panel of experts in this podcast episode will look honestly at the outcome of COP27 in terms of the built environment and also look back at what has happened in the year since COP26.

They will take into account information such as what is included in this first slide, from the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction issued this week by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) and UN Environment Programme which clearly shows an alarming, clear key message:

Compared to 2020, operational energy-related CO2 emissions have increased by around 5% compared to 2020, a rebound that now exceeds the 2019 peak.

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (1)
“Only a radical transformation including all stakeholders along the value chain can help us break the trend” commented Roland Hunziker on LinkedIn about this message and slide.

Constructive Voices will speak to a panel of top experts on Monday 21st November and bring you that episode the very next day.

Below you can meet our guests and further down you can check the latest building initiatives announced at COP27 according to the BuildingtoCOP website.

Matthew Black, World Green Building Council

Matthew Black World Green Building CouncilMatthew is Programme Coordinator for World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) global Advancing Net Zero programme. In this role, he works across the programme’s various global and regional activities and leads on the recruitment and delivery of the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. He started his career in communications, previously working in Brussels for both the UN and a media company focused on sustainability, where his clients included: the UN, the EU Commission, Horizon 2020 research programmes, and a number of other international initiatives such as Cities4Forests. Matthew is based in London, UK. Emma Nicholson - Constructive Voices Episode 13

Emma Nicholson, B.A, MSc, FCIOB, FIEMA, FWES, CEnv, FAPM, the Founding Director of Women in Sustainable Construction and Property

Emma is an accomplished and skilled Chartered Construction Manager and Chartered Environmentalist with Board level experience. She is currently the Principal Sustainability Project Manager, at Pick Everard, She is passionate about achieving quality projects and was nominated in 2018 for an Excellence Award in quality of project delivery of Leeds Art Gallery and Leeds Library roof restoration. Emma was a guest way back on Episode 13, How Women Can Create Sustainable Change, Especially in Light of the IPCC Report

Sumele Adelana, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager for SketchUp at Trimble

Sumele-Aruofor-Headshot-2-Constructive-VoicesSumele Adelana (RIBA Associate) uses her training and experience in architecture, interior architecture, and building performance design to create content that enables professionals in the AEC industry to leverage innovative technologies for better design and a more sustainable built environment. She applies this knowledge in her role as the Senior Strategic Marketing Manager at Trimble’s SketchUp and in designing residential projects in the UK. Sumele believes that architects are uniquely positioned to positively impact the day-to-day experience of people, communities, economies, and the global climate. Through her work, she advocates for architects to see occupant comfort and building performance as a distinct criterion of great design, and for all AEC professionals to go beyond minimum regulatory requirements by analysing energy and daylight early and often as part of the design process. Sumele was a also a guest on Episode 13, How Women Can Create Sustainable Change, Especially in Light of the IPCC Report

Phanos Hadjikyriakou, 2050 Materials

Phanos Hadjikyriakou 2050 MaterialsPhanos Hadjikyriakou is an engineer and sustainability expert focusing on democratizing sustainable construction practices in the built environment. He has a background in climate ESG assessments, and has worked with some of the biggest real estate institutions globally, helping them align their investments with a 1.5 degree world. Currently, he is one of the co-founders of 2050 Materials, a company of architects, climate experts and software engineers building tools which empower architects and contractors to find, compare and specify the most sustainable building products available.

Amrita Dasgupta Shekhar, Associate at Greengage

Amrita Dasgupta Shekhar Constructive Voices Amrita is an Associate at Greengage and leads their Energy and Carbon services. She has over 15 years of experience working within the public, private and not-for-profit sector providing strategic leadership and management of carbon reduction programmes. Amrita is a part of a cross industry initiative to develop UK’s first Net Zero Carbon Building Standards. She is also a part of the British Property Federation’s sustainability committee and supports their work on Net Zero. In her previous role with the Better Buildings Partnership, she worked with several Commercial Real Estate clients, to develop and deliver industry best practice relating to ESG. During this time Amrita led on the development of their Real Estate Environmental Benchmarks and managed the development of the NABERS methodology for Whole Buildings and Tenancy scheme for the UK. She has successfully led the delivery of sustainable schools in Leicester, where her involvement has spanned from visioning, contract development to design and operational support. During this time she also delivered a successful soft-landings project on engaging and training building users to manage complex building systems and deliver incremental energy reductions in performance. These schools have demonstrated a significant reduction in the performance gap between actual and predicted energy use. Amrita has significant experience of working on multi-stakeholder projects and has a multi-disciplinary approach to sustainable design and development. She has authored a number of technical and non-technical papers, guidance and toolkits on Sustainable Buildings and ESG issues in the UK as well as in international peer reviewed journals.

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction

Update from the Building to COP website, 17th November

Read the full list of initiatives that are collectively driving deep collaboration and triggering a positive systemic transformation in the built environment.

Building To COP Coalition member announcements:


  • Buildings Breakthrough: government-level action
At COP26, the Breakthrough Agenda was launched, aiming to strengthen international collaboration on the decarbonisation of high-emitting sectors (Transport, Power, Hydrogen, Steel, Agriculture). At COP27, the governments of France and the Kingdom of Morocco re-confirmed their leadership of a Buildings Breakthrough under the existing Agenda with the support of the UNEP-hosted GlobalABC. The Breakthrough, which makes the call that  ‘Near zero emissions and resilient buildings are the new normal by 2030’ welcomes the support of Armenia, Austria, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Türkiye, and the UK. These countries, with France and the Kingdom of Morocco, collectively invited all other countries to join this rallying point.  
  • WorldGBC Guide to Climate Resilience and Adaptation in the Built Environment
Launched ahead of COP27 in collaboration with the UN High Level Climate Champions and C40 Cities, the WorldGBC Guide to Climate Resilience and Adaptation in the Built Environment provides actionable principles for implementing climate resilience and adaptation strategies across the built environment value chain.  
  • Roof Over Our Heads
This campaign, launched at COP27, addresses the lack of access to safe and decent houses for the most vulnerable communities, with the goal of improving the lives of 2 billion climate vulnerable people living in informal settlements by 2050. Roof Over Our Heads is a partnership between The Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Global Resilience Partnership, and a number of supporting organisations. The campaign is in collaboration with the UN High Level Climate Champions.
  • Cities Race to Resilience
Signatories to the Cities Race to Resilience have more than doubled since 2021, committing to clear, evidence-based climate actions for accelerating adaptation and resilience.
  • Summary for Urban Policy Makers
Launched at COP27, The summary turns the IPCC’s AR6 report into actionable policy guides for city and urban policy makers to decarbonise and build the resilience of urban environments.  Led by Resilience Rising and the IPCC’s Co-Authors, the SUP reports [launched at COP26] are a result of collaborative knowledge co-creation over one year and through a series of regional and global convenings held across the world. Consolidated summary here.


  • 2030 Built Environment Breakthrough Outcome
The UN High Level Climate Champions built on the 2030 Breakthrough Outcome for the built environment, by launching a series of near-term way-point actions needed across all levers for systems change from supply to demand to policy implementation.
  • 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction
The report is a flagship publication of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) and provides an annual snapshot on the progress of the buildings and construction sector globally. This year’s report found that emissions and energy demand have increased beyond the pre-pandemic peak. The sector is not on track to achieve decarbonisation by 2050 despite a substantial increase in investment and in the number of countries including buildings as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The report found in Africa that:
  • An estimated 70% of the building stock expected to exist in 2040 has yet to be built.
  • Building and construction sector is worth USD 5.4 billion and is expected to grow at a rate of 6.4% by 2024.
  • Traditional sustainable construction and building practices are a cornerstone of African cultural heritage; used more widely they can make for more affordable housing that is adaptable to climate conditions.
  • The Race to Zero continues
The percentage of construction companies, by revenue, that have joined the Race to Zero has doubled since COP26. Contractors have committed to halving their emissions by 2030 at the very latest, across all scopes. The construction sector organisations now committed to Race to Zero totals over $245 billion (USD) in revenue.
  • Business of Climate Recovery: Accelerating Accountability, Ambition & Action
This agenda, released by WBCSD, sets out interventions for accelerating the global decarbonisation of business, supporting business leaders, in close collaboration with governments, to sharpen accountability, raise ambition, and deliver action at speed and scale. Two priority action areas for this initiative are:
  • Developing national and sub-national decarbonisation and resilience
  • roadmaps to address energy performance and whole lifecycle emissions for new and old buildings.
  • Placing whole life carbon at the centre of decarbonisation strategies and decisions.
  • C40 Cities Clean Construction
Cities are driving transformational actions to cut emissions and pollution from the construction sector, shift the market and lead by example with municipal procurement. In the lead up to COP27 C40 Cities Clean Construction announced:
  • The cities of London and Milan joined C40’s Clean Construction Accelerator – endorsed by BWI, the global construction workers union, committing specific actions to support the global built environment sector in halving embodied emissions by 2030 and generating green jobs.
  • Cities leadership and C40’s Clean Construction programme were recognised as supporting mechanisms to the new Buy Clean Initiative unveiled by the Biden/Harris administration in the White House Factsheet..
  • IKEA Retail (Ingka Group) joined C40’s Clean Construction Action Coalition, launched last year at COP26 in Glasgow, to halve embodied emissions from the global built environment by 2030.


  • Paris Aligned Asset Owners
The Paris Aligned Asset Owners initiative (PAAO) coordinated by AIGCC, Ceres, IGCC and IIGCC, is an international group of 57 asset owners representing over $3.3 trillion assets under management (AUM) committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 or sooner, has published its first Progress Report. The report showcases innovation and best practice amongst asset owners for turning net zero commitments into action and the steps being taken to reach their net zero goals.
  • Asset Managers in the Race to Zero
Less than two years since the initiative launched, the total number of asset managers committing to net zero through the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative has increased to 291, representing $66 trillion (AUM). Collectively signatories have now committed on average 39% of assets to net zero by 2050, with all NZAM signatories committing to ratchet up with a view to reaching 100%.

Marking an Opportunity for Africa:

  • Africa Manifesto for Sustainable Cities and the Built Environment
The Africa Manifesto was launched ahead of COP27, articulating policies related to energy, water, materials, finance and infrastructure that African business leaders, city and government officials must support to deliver the ‘Africa We Want’: a net zero carbon, healthy, resilient, equitable, socially and economically inclusive built environment for everyone, everywhere. The Manifesto is a collaborative piece of work developed with 15 African Green Building Councils (GBCs), WorldGBC and the BuildingToCOP Coalition partners (High Level Climate ChampionsWe Mean BusinessC40 Cities).
  • African Alliance for Sustainable Cities and Built Environments
WorldGBC announced the launch of the c at COP27. Cities and businesses in Africa need to commit to drastically reducing their emissions before 2050, but a net zero transition cannot happen without the mobilisation of the workforce of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). The Alliance will serve as a regional platform to enable collaboration and knowledge sharing for the built environment across the continent.  

Other Built Environment COP27 Announcements

  • First Movers Coalition – The World Economic Forum and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate announced at COP27 the expansion of a coalition of global companies to commit $12 billion in 2030 purchase commitments for green technologies to decarbonise the cement and concrete industry and other hard-to-abate sectors.

Let’s look back at the built environment roadmap post COP26

According to the World Green Building Council, the outcome of Glasgow’s COP26 in terms of built environment was as follows:
Accelerating deep collaboration: 26 built environment climate action initiatives announced at COP26
Marking a climate breakthrough for the built environment, a coalition of business and government groups announce 26 climate action initiatives at Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26, including:
Why cities, regions and the built environment matter Buildings are responsible for almost 40 per cent of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50 per cent of all extracted materials. By 2050, 1.6 billion urban dwellers will be regularly exposed to extremely high temperatures and over 800 million people living in more than 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding. By 2060:
  • The world’s building stock will double and almost 70 per cent of the global population is projected to live in urban areas.
  • Global material use is expected to more than double and a third of this rise is attributable to materials used in the building and construction system.
The built environment’s demand on natural resources accelerates climate change, and inefficient, unhealthy buildings negatively impact human health and wellbeing. However, efficient buildings are one of the biggest investment opportunities worth an estimated $24.7 trillion by 2030. Despite this, less than $3 of every $100 spent on new construction goes to efficient buildings. While around a third of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) make reference to actions on buildings, many of them fall short of the level of ambition to drive the required — and achievable — performance levels. And some countries that expect growth over the coming decades do not have energy codes. This will result in buildings being built today that do not meet the necessary standards for today’s or future climates. Built environment is vital to halving emissions by 2030 A collaboration between the UN High Level Climate Champions, the COP26 Presidency and the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition, Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP26 brings together national, regional and city level leaders, alongside the private sector, to deliver deep collaboration that can accelerate climate action over the next decade. To mark this dedicated day, 26 game-changing built environment climate initiatives were announced. The announcements send a clear signal to policymakers and the private sector that the built environment is vital to halving emissions by 2030 and limiting global heating to 1.5℃:
  • The built environment must be prioritised as a critical climate solution- Almost 40 percent of global emissions come from buildings and construction through their lifecycle, and buildings are responsible for almost 35 percent of final energy demand.
  • We need faster and bolder government action, solutions and pathways to help drive change. Cities, regions and private sector frontrunners are already raising ambitions and accelerating progress but to fully realise the sector’s ambitions, they need an enabling regulatory framework and access to financing.
  • We must rapidly accelerate deep cross-sectoral collaboration. This is critical for achieving the needed market transformation towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient built environment at scale and at pace.

Written by: Jackie De Burca

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