MIPIM: Cut carbon now using existing solutions says report

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Arup have called on property developers to implement high-impact carbon reduction strategies that will immediately halve building project emissions without waiting for new technology.

As much as 50% of a new, energy-efficient building’s emissions come from embodied carbon, the report states.

Making the plea in a new report, Net-Zero Buildings: Halving Construction Emissions Today, WBCSD and Arup said the report shows that the solutions required to start halving up-front embodied carbon emissions immediately are already available.

The paper provides examples of practical ways for reducing embodied carbon, such as reducing the span  between columns because the engineering solutions required for large spans are typically carbon-intensive. Similarly, reducing building height reduces the need for thicker core walls, bigger columns and larger foundations.

The report’s authors also state that data is key and will drive informed calculation, analysis, and consistent reporting. At COP27, Arup announced it had built an international dataset of whole life carbon (WLC) emissions for buildings; calculating emissions for almost 1,000 projects across 30 nations and five continents. The firm called on actors across the global property, construction and building design sectors to work together to establish open and comparable WLC datasets. 

“This report shows that property developers, and their appointed teams, can achieve significant carbon reduction targets now,” said Arup building engineering director Chris Carroll.

“It is possible to at least halve embodied carbon emissions in construction now by better using what is already available. But there is no single solution or silver bullet. Earliest possible, systemic and collaborative thinking is the route forwards.”