Is Climate Emergency Incentive Enough?
Our team at Builders for Climate Action (B4CA) has been coalescing since 2019 with the idea of bringing a strong, data-driven understanding of the full carbon footprint of buildings to the industry and to help facilitate a transformation to carbon storing buildings in an equitable world.
There has always been an urgency to this work, and our ambitions have increased from simply drawing attention to embodied carbon to fully advocating for carbon storage. In July this year, the urgency increased with the release of the IPCC Working Group’s new report which is, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, nothing less than "a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable".
At B4CA, we know there is some good news here in the construction sector: we have the ability to stop creating emissions and making carbon storing buildings today—at least in the low-rise sector—and that we can accelerate the pace of getting all buildings to at least zero carbon emissions and then to net carbon storage.
But there’s no time to dawdle. This will take our full attention as an industry. Regulators need to first encourage and then enforce real zero carbon limits. Manufacturers need to engage in full transparency and move forward with innovations in low-carbon and carbon-storing products. Designers need to understand how to reduce and reverse emissions in their buildings through climate positive design and material selection. Builders need to procure low-carbon and carbon-storing materials and understand how to install them properly. And citizens need to demand that all of us adhere to an ambitious schedule.
Unlike many other sectors, a climate-positive construction industry need not fear for its very existence. We need buildings, we need to renovate older buildings, and we can do all of this while reversing our climate impact.
Do any of us have anything better to do? Let’s get to work!