Building sector uniquely positioned to push green economy: UNEP

UNEP’s chief of sustainable consumption and production Dr Arab Hoballah, speaking on behalf of UNEP executive director Achim Steiner, said buildings represent the intersection of economies, society and the environment, and that close collaboration between government and the private sector could provide the momentum badly needed for creating a global green economy.

He told the opening plenary session that the building sector represents 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 111 million people worldwide. To accommodate growing populations, particularly in cities where 80 per cent of people are expected to live by 2030, the sector will spend an estimated US$100 trillion over the next 10 years.

It accounts for roughly one third of greenhouse gas emissions, 40 per cent of energy consumption, one quarter of water consumption and a significant portion of other resources such as metals, timber and sand. The world’s existing buildings consume 60 per cent of electricity produced globally.

He recommended encouraging private investment in green buildings through government incentives and regulations, identifying ways of increasing available public and private capital and by educating builders and owners about the economic benefits of green buildings. He also urged governments to share effective ideas on urban planning and policies, and to prioritise sustainable buildings at local and international forums such as the upcoming Rio+20 summit in Brazil.

Dr John Keung, chief executive of the Republic’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA), who also spoke at the opening plenary, provided an account of Singapore’s journey in greening its building sector. Since the launch of its Green Mark certification scheme in 2005, which rates buildings for its environmental impact and performance, BCA has certified 12 per cent of Singapore’s total building stock.


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