Building sector sleepwalking into climate disaster

The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) and CDP have assessed 50 major companies across the building sector in the first Buildings Benchmark, finding that it does not have emissions targets and climate transition plans in place.

Property developers, managers, and construction companies together make up a sector which is responsible for 37 per cent of global emissions, and the WBA states that this “paints a picture of a sector sleepwalking into a situation where damaging emissions are locked into the design and build”.

Fifty-four per cent of companies assessed have not developed a climate transition plan and 44 per cent fail to even set any targets to reduce emissions. The plans that exist lack detail, such as what finances they are committing to this plan. The assessment uses the Assessing low-Carbon Transition (ACT) methodology that drives climate action by benchmarking companies against advanced, science-based metrics.

Companies assessed include JLL, Brookfield, China Evergrande, Country Garde, Greenland Holdings, Vonovia, New World Development, SEGRO, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Ayala, Gecina, Hyundai E&C, Lendlease, LEG Immobilien, Macrotech, Godrej, Mitsubishi Estate and Prologis, and operate across 91 countries, including China, the US and Europe.

Gecina is the only company that targets the delivery of zero-carbon ready buildings in line with the IEA net-zero scenario requirement that all new buildings delivered from 2030 onwards will be zero-carbon ready. Currently, only two companies (LEG Immobilien and Gecina) are developing zero-carbon ready buildings in their property development operations.

Analysis found that as a result of the longevity of buildings, the choices that the sector makes today risk locking in emissions for decades to come. The wrong design, construction, and renovation decisions today will have a lasting impact on companies’ ability to decarbonise at the speed and scale required if we are to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

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