From Paris to Bonn, the Global Alliance of Buildings and Construction moves forward

The Conference of the Parties on Climate (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, under the chairmanship of Fiji, will be held in November. Since the COP21 in December 2015 and the Paris Climate Agreement, initiatives have multiplied in several sectors to limit global warming below 2 ° C. The Global Alliance for Building & Construction (GABC) works on how buildings can contribute positively. Frédéric Auclair is the Coordinator.

In what context was the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction created?

Frédéric Auclair: The Alliance was born at the COP21 in 2015, the impetus of France and UNEP. There is a real awareness of the environmental issue in the building sector, particularly on the issue of renovation and with the joint policies of the Ministry of Environment and Housing to make the building more sustainable. Unfortunately, the UN negotiating circles did not attach the same importance to the construction sector, even though improvements had already been made at the COP20 in Lima. The French government decided to take the issue at the COP21 and take with it state and non-state actors on construction, which alone accounts for 30% of the world's CO2 emissions. Nobody before had done it: it is an extremely fragmented sector, with initiatives very scattered, very heterogeneous from one country to another, from one actor to another. The Global Alliance for Building and Construction was born on December 3, 2015, during the Buildings Day of the COP21 in Paris Le Bourget.

Who are the members?

F.A.: The founding members were gathered at the Buildings Day of 2015. They are recognized actors of the sector of the building internationally, that went to seek the Ministry of Ségolène Royal and the Quai d'Orsay. Today we have 24 member countries and 72 non-state members from around the world. It is not for us to become a huge "steamship" of 2000 actors, we want to work with those who work in the building, collaborating with those who act on other related subjects: biodiversity, the city, networks ... We welcome any new member willing to contribute actively to this global transition of the sector.

There is a real diversity among our members: there are pioneering countries such as Finland, Sweden, and countries far less advanced on sustainable building such as Senegal or Cameroon, but want to do. This generates a very interesting emulation effect. As for non-state actors, they comprise all the professions involved in the building's value chain, and represent three-quarters of the Alliance. There are actors such as the Nubian Voûte, Saint Gobain, Lafarge-Holcim, the World Bank, the State of California, Mexico City, architectural organizations, Construction21...

What are your goals ?

F.A. They are the same as those set by the Paris Agreements: to do everything in our sector to limit global warming to below 2 ° C. We aim to reduce energy consumption of buildings by at least 30% by integrating new, highly eco-efficient buildings and to substantially renovate existing housing stock by 2050. Buildings are also the result of investment and production processes involving many players. In order to make progress, it is therefore essential that all partners in the entire value chain are committed, and also to provide clear performance criteria and follow-up throughout the lifecycle, including the chain supply of construction. This effort requires an additional public and private investment of approximately US $ 11.5 trillion, in addition to what is being done today, over the period 2015-2050. However, this could result in energy cost savings exceeding the initial 100% investment by 2050.

We have three common global objectives:

  • Communicating: Raising awareness and commitments in order to make visible the scope of opportunities and impacts in the building and construction sector, to define sectoral climate objectives and to promote transparency and exchange of information.
  • Collaborate: Encourage policy measures and market transformations to meet existing climate commitments by building partnerships, sharing technologies and know-how, and improving the flow of transactions and facilitating access to effective financing.
  • Solutions: Provide and support locally adapted programs and solutions to meet climate commitments and pursue ambitious actions for the "below 2 ° C" scenario.

With such a variety of members, stakes, such diversity of local particularities, how to set up and coordinate a common action?

F.A. It is a somewhat crazy bet to bring together a very diverse set of actors and to take them towards a common goal through a multitude of initiatives. We are very far from the transport sector for example, which has a similar technology around the world with a well-identified transition and on which actors can agree: switch from the internal combustion engine to the electric motor.

We therefore decided to work first on 5 working groups that were launched in April 2016:

    • Education and Awareness - this group focuses on developing messages and information to be disseminated by the Alliance and its members to raise awareness and inspire the sector to go further, to seek new solutions. Construction21 is also a key player in this group, through Christian Brodhag.
    • Public policies - it is designed to break down the regulatory, economic, institutional and financial barriers that hamper the sector in its move towards more responsible buildings.
    • Market transformation - raising awareness among users and clients, training professionals to develop a skilled workforce, finding economic models adapted to these new modes of construction, and establishing incentive policies.
    • Finance - the challenge here is to double investment in low carbon construction
    • Measures and data - to unify measurement systems and data collected on the performance of buildings in order to be able to effectively compare the efforts made by each and to communicate effectively on the results obtained.

In addition, we have set up two task forces dedicated to the establishment of a global roadmap for low carbon real estate and the annual report of the Global Status Report, which gives an overview of climate / building issues.

What will be your actions at COP23?

F.A.: We will present our contribution with the annual report. But this year, the building will be somewhat eclipsed by other issues more dear to the Fiji presidency. Not to mention that Batimat will take place at the same time in Paris, and will certainly attract many players in the sector. In parallel with the COP, we will organize a Buildings Day with our German partners.

Why does the Alliance support the Green Solutions Awards of Construction21?

F.A.: Construction21 is one of our founding members and a very active communication partner from the start. Christian Brodhag, its president, is very involved in Working Group 1 on education and awareness. Construction21 is an excellent vehicle for communication with French professionals and throughout the world, thanks to its numerous national platforms. The French and European construction sectors offer many inspiring examples of solutions already implemented. This is not the case for other countries. A Nigerian student will find it much harder to find information, feedback that could help him.

The Green Solutions Awards organized by Construction21 are a great opportunity to open the field of possibilities for the candidates and to inspire the whole world.


Moderated by : Véronique Pappe

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