Buildings and Climate Global Pre-Forum: a successful first!

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558 Last modified by the author on 13/03/2024 - 11:37

The Buildings and Climate Global pre-Forum, "To COP or not to COPE?" organised by Construction21 came to a close (but not least!). This first-ever event, which focused on adaptation, building resilience and sustainable cities, was a great success, bringing together a wide range of public and private players committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and combating the impact of global warming.

To inaugurate the partnership event on 5 March, no fewer than six themed tours of exemplary sites were organised in Paris and its inner suburbs. Six routes illustrating the adaptation and decarbonisation measures implemented in offices, renovated offices, cultural and sports venues, districts and even alternative materials. A pre-day of encounters and discoveries that set the ball rolling for the "To COP or not to COPE?" symposium organised by Construction21 on 6 March. 

As a curtain-raiser to the round tables, keynotes and pitches that punctuated a day of dense and fascinating reflection, the levers of decarbonisation were activated through concrete cases, avenues to follow and feedback. From the potential of bioresources and hemp to hybrid gas solutions and a look at international innovation through the Danish Living Places concept, there was a succession of testimonials demonstrating the diversity of actions being taken to decarbonise cities and buildings.

"We have no better lever than the massive renovation of our building stock, whether for mitigation or adaptation", continued Alexandra Lebert of the CSTB, in her introduction to the first highlight of the morning, under the flag of Tunisia, the Alliance HQE-GBC or Hobo, which argued for the mixing of materials and the coordination of skills. The Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France, for their part, advocated a vision that would be strengthened and applied by moving towards cross-disciplinary and diffuse training. Young people, like so many players of the future, need to be won over through attractive courses of study, and there were many of them at the pre-forum who saw themselves as part of the challenges facing the building and public works industry.

A diversity of solutions in the spotlight, and in common

On the pre-forum stage, the Institut de l'économie pour le climat (I4CE) was also present to talk about the coherence between climate adaptation and finance, an essential prism for thinking about adaptation in the long term. The national climate adaptation plan is one of the building blocks, requiring a budget to match its ambitions: "If there are no resources, we know what will happen", warned Benoit Leguet, its Managing Director, before handing over the microphone to the field.

A district transformed into a sponge city, a reconstituted green network, green roofing, cool roofing, investments... there were numerous examples to demonstrate the potential resilience of buildings in the face of climatic hazards and natural risks. Lamine Ighil Ameur of Cerema illustrated that "2022 was a record year for the number of municipalities affected by the risk of clay shrinkage and swelling (RGA); we need to work on existing and new buildings, and adapt to both", setting the tone for the debate on this major issue in regions subject to increasingly frequent drought phenomena. Of course, it's a completely different story in Canada, conceded the Canada Green Building Council, where forest fires and melting permafrost are the order of the day. Each country has its own issues and seasonality, but all are united around a common concern.

Spreading the word around the world

Adaptation, again, or how to build and plan tomorrow's urban development in the face of climate drift and its consequences, mobilised the troops in the pre-forum spotlight. Ten principles of adaptation for the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) set the scene for the afternoon's discussions, which began with the reference framework developed by the HQE-GBC Alliance, applied to High Environmental Quality buildings. It was also a rich experience to discover promising initiatives in Morocco, such as the New Ecocity Zenata project described by Nour El Houda El Hamouni, and to discuss the new generation of district heating and cooling networks, notably deployed in the city of Culemborg in the Netherlands. During a stopover in Togo, it was the local raw earth that shaped the debate, as a sustainable solution in a country with a shortage of resources.

CSTB, Climate Chance and others all stressed that adaptation is also a matter of social justice, a commitment that needs to be embraced by civil society as well as public and private players.

Ensuring the next generation!

Back in France after a tour of solutions from the four corners of the world, it was time to look at the best practices to be deployed in the regions. Urban planning projects involving citizens, action by public authorities to tackle climate issues, regional COPs, old and new skills, soft mobility... it didn't take much to understand the levers to be activated at different levels, under the aegis of collective intelligence. And the final presentation of student projects, at the close of the event, was a sign of confidence in the construction industry and its future solutions for a more sustainable city.


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