- Bill Starkey
As COP26 Gets Underway, Building Green Has Never Been More Important
World leaders met in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1, 2021, for the opening of the long-awaited UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) climate summit. Experts, activists, and policymakers implored delegates to renew their efforts to curb emissions, with many warning that, to date, it has simply been a case of too little, too late.
Presented in partnership with Italy, COP26 aims to accelerate action toward goals established under the Paris Agreement. The UK has pledged its commitment to working with all nations, joining forces with societies, companies, and those on the frontline of climate change, inspiring action to counter greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century.
What Is COP26?
For almost three decades, the United Nations has brought together the leaders of virtually every country on Earth in global climate summits known as Conferences of the Parties. Since the first COP, climate change has evolved from a peripheral concern to an international priority.
COP26 is the 26th COP summit staged to tackle climate change, an existential threat felt with increasing effects all over the world today. In the run-up to COP26, Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the UK, reached out to world leaders, trying to mediate between them on how best to address climate change-related issues.
In addition to world leaders, tens of thousands of government representatives, negotiators, businesses, and citizens arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 12 days of talks. Experts and activists warn that COP26 has an urgency like no climate change summit before in terms of meeting the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement and protecting the Earth against catastrophic climate change.
What Is the Paris Agreement?
In 2015 196 world leaders attended COP21 in Paris. The result was a binding international treaty. As part of the agreement, world leaders agreed to take action to limit global warming, keeping it well below 2 degrees Celsius but preferably below 1.5 degrees, compared with pre-industrial levels.
To achieve this goal, countries pledged to work together to achieve a climate-neutral world by 2050. The Paris Agreement was a landmark multilateral climate change process. It created a binding agreement among all nations for the first time, with each country pledging to take ambitious actions to counter climate change and adapt to its effects.
The Paris Agreement created a framework for technical, financial, and capacity-building support for those countries that needed it, reaffirming that developed nations should take the lead. It also provided financial assistance to those that are more vulnerable and less endowed. Not every country has sufficient capacity to deal with many of the challenges presented by climate change. With this in mind, the Paris Agreement highlights the need for climate-related capacity-building between developed and developing countries.
What Is Green Building?
To be considered “green,” a building must, in its construction, operation, and design, reduce or eliminate its negative impact. Green buildings can also have a positive impact on the natural environment and climate while preserving precious natural resources and improving the quality of life of those that live and work in them.
Green buildings combine several features, including:
· Good indoor air quality
· Waste and pollution reduction measures, prioritizing recycling and reuse
· Adoption of ethical, sustainable, and non-toxic materials
· Minimization of environmental impact in terms of design, construction, and operation
· Efficient use of water, electricity, and other resources
· A design capable of adapting to a changing environment
· Enhancement of building occupants’ quality of life
· Use of renewable energy
Any type of building can be considered green, whether it’s intended to be a residential home, workspace, community center, school, hospital, or another type of structure.
Why Is Green Building Important to Attaining COP Goals?
COP26 is a vital opportunity to show that the Paris Agreement is still alive and kicking by driving lasting, positive change and turning talk into action. Poised as a milestone moment that could prove to be a historic turning point in the global battle against climate change, COP26 will address numerous aspects of our daily lives, particularly the built environment and the climate impact of the construction sector.
The construction industry is an important component of many COP26 themes, as it plays a pivotal role in terms of mitigating climate change. With 39 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions attributed to construction, the built environment is a key sector that could either make or break or efforts toward net-zero emission buildings.
With game-changing advancements like building information modeling, robotics, and smart technology, the way we build and enjoy our buildings is rapidly evolving. The construction industry is front and center of many COP themes, for example, building innovations that leverage nature-based solutions to protect us against climatic extremes.