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Eight action plans to address a global emergency

/ 04:00 AM December 07, 2019

It is crucial that important changes are made in the buildings and construction sector if we are to successfully implement the agenda related to the Paris Agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

This was the gist of the Global Roadmap for Buildings and Construction 2020 Report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous agency established in 1974 to promote energy security among its member countries and provide research on affordable clean energy.

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To make the roadmap successful, decision making can be enabled by circular economy methods to ensure that embodied energy in products and buildings are accounted for in their impact and emissions beyond the building sector.

Circular economy

What is a circular economy?

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This is an approach wherein there is a continuous loop from start to end of their life for products. In simple terms, using waste materials of one industry as raw materials for another.

During a recent conference in Singapore where I represented the Philippine Green Building Initiative, the IEA conducted a training program aimed at building the capacity and strengthening the network among policy makers, the academics and professionals working in the building sector in Southeast Asia, and equipping them with greater knowledge and skills to establish the path towards a low-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector in their respective countries.

The program identified eight specific action plans to enable transition towards this goal.

Activity 1: Urban planning

The form and compactness of the buildings, including mutual shading, affects the energy demand in buildings and renewable energy capacity. Urban planning policies can support the transition towards low-emission, efficient and resilient buildings.

Using district energy planning is an effective approach for integrating energy demand and supply at district level.

Urban planning technology includes digital tools using data and information for satellite images, cost data, benefits analysis of life cycle analysis. Others include lighting, water management and vegetation.

Activity 2: New buildings

Develop and implement new mandatory codes to set minimal efficiency in buildings and achieve net zero emissions or net zero energy through the integration of renewable energy.

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Increase access to and use of finance to enable private investment. Government must also develop policies to ensure that new public buildings are low-emission and efficient.

Activity 3: Building retrofits

To improve existing buildings to be near zero emissions, there must be an increase in renovation rates and an upgraded level of energy performance.

The present improvement rates are not in line with global energy and emission targets to limit average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius or less.

Reduce energy consumption of existing buildings by 3 percent to 50 percent, or even more.

Activity 4: Operations

It is very important to manage existing buildings efficiently. Behavioral and operational management impact the energy and GHG performance.

Train on energy management systems and processes in all buildings, especially residential buildings. Hire sustainability and energy managers. Deploy temperature, lighting and ventilation system controls, sensors and energy metering.

Activity 5: Systems

Energy using lighting, appliances and equipment systems offer big opportunities to reduce emissions in new and existing buildings.

Develop, enforce and improve standards that set product quality and performance requirements. Increase access to and use of finance to enable private investment.

Activity 6: Materials

Construction activity is generating a major flow of materials in every country, estimated at 24 percent of the global raw materials removed from the earth with a large impact on climate change.

Develop cradle to cradle life cycle approaches in the building sector. Reduce demolition. Recycle construction materials. Phase out global warming potential refrigerants.

Activity 7: Resilience

Climate and climate change can affect construction in three ways: construction delays and costs; change in design standards due to weather conditions; and change in the demand for rebuilding and repair.

Use data to document risk exposure by location for decision making. Implement policies, good design and strong materials for buildings to be resistant to natural disasters and extreme temperatures.

Activity 8: Clean energy

To enable 100 percent clean energy for buildings, onsite energy efficiency and renewable energy need to be combined with energy network, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

New energy services can be provided by buildings, such as energy storage to enable clean energy transition. Integrate on site renewable energy. Connect buildings to low-emission district energy systems. Purchase green power. Develop zero carbon policies.

Multiple benefits

The successful implementation of the roadmap has multiple benefits. Evaluating these benefits can enable better decisions for policies and technologies to deliver economic and social development.

The author is the principal architect of A.P de Jesus & Associates-Green Architecture and vice chairman of the Philippine Green Building Initiative. For comments or inquiries, email [email protected]

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