Heather Benjamin
2 minute read

The report tracks the progress of the building sector in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Released on December 7 at the COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, the "2018 Global Status Report: Towards a Zero-emission, Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Construction Sector" highlights the need for an unwavering global commitment to reducing our carbon emissions.

The report is an annual snapshot from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, in partnership with the International Energy Agency and UN Environment. It tracks the progress of the building and construction sector in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and limiting the effects of global warming.

According to the findings, governments, cities and businesses will need to work together to shrink our global carbon footprint, but there is reason for optimism. Shifts toward energy-saving technologies, materials and design are putting the industry on the right track, but investment in energy efficiency is still outpaced by investment in construction.

Buildings are responsible for nearly 40 percent of CO2 emissions—but since building emissions have leveled off since 2015, with continued focus on clean energy, those emissions are expected to decline.

Top takeaways

  • The rate of energy efficiency investment growth in building is slower than the overall rate of building construction investment growth. The new report highlights an emerging gap between total energy efficiency spending, which increased by just over four per cent in 2017, to $423 billion, and the total investment in building construction and renovations.
  • The energy demand for cooling our building spaces is rising. The report shows a rising energy demand for cooling systems. Energy use for space cooling has already increased 25 per cent since 2010, and there are now more than 1.6 billion air conditioning units in buildings globally.
  • National Climate Action Plans (NDCs) make a difference.The scaling-up of national climate action plans represents a key opportunity to address a wide range of issues, by addressing policy gaps and committing to carbon reduction in the buildings and construction sector.
  • Building standards must evolve to promote resiliency. According to the report, building standards need to change to reflect the urgency for more resilient buildings, in the face of climate change and extreme weather events.

To see the report's examination of current policies, investment numbers, technological solutions and areas for improvement, view the full report.

Download the report