The construction sector is growing at unprecedented rates and it is estimated that, during the next 40 years, 230 billion square meters of new infrastructure will be built in the world. The sector, between construction works and buildings, is one of the most important sources of pollution worldwide since it consumes 36% of global energy and produces 39% of CO2 emissions.
According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global temperature is expected to rise between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius in this century, in relation to the average temperature of the period 1986-2005. This will cause profound impacts, such as sea level rise, or increased frequency of floods and droughts. These expected impacts of climate change will have very negative impacts on buildings.
To cope with these threats, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the construction sector must be reduced, stopped and reversed; and, at the same time, buildings must improve their capacity for resilience in the face of the expected effects of climate change.
This is a great challenge for the construction industry.
How can we face this challenge and promote an infrastructure that mitigates and adapts to climate change?
The good news is that there are many opportunities!
In general terms, there are two types of strategies when we work with buildings: mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The mitigation measures are aimed at reducing GHG emissions. Adaptation measures focus on reducing the vulnerability and risks generated by climate change and, for the specific case of the building infrastructure, are aimed at strengthening the resilience of buildings.
Let’s see some more examples in detail to see how these strategies are applicable to buildings!
Mitigation strategies for climate change in buildings are mainly focused on promoting energy saving, the use of renewable energies, the proper management of waste, the integration of vegetation in building projects (such as roofs, walls and green terraces), and incorporation of elements that facilitate the use of non-motorized transport (such as the installation of parking lots for bicycles or charging stations for electric vehicles), among others, and are applicable in different measures both in existing buildings and in new buildings. It is even possible to design projects that comprehensively contemplate all these aspects from their architectural conception, defined as green, sustainable or bioclimatic buildings.
The strategies of adaptation to climate change are strictly related to the specific context in which the buildings are located. For example, in a context where water is a scarce resource, and/or projections indicate desertification processes, buildings can use strategies that promote efficient water use, water reduction, and / or water treatment, as the installation of a system of collection and treatment of gray or black water for use, for example, in irrigation or discharges of toilets, the installation of showers and low-flow taps for kitchens, toilets and bathrooms, double-flush toilets, etc. .
The IDB Group, together with other multilateral development banks, seeks to contribute to face the challenges of climate change, setting as a goal that 30% of its approved resources be invested in activities related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change for the year 2020. And the construction sector is a key actor to fulfill this ambitious objective. Help us in that task!
If you want to know more about how we work in the IDB Group with buildings and climate change, download the publication TOWARDS 30% OF CLIMATE FINANCING: HOW CAN BUILDINGS CONTRIBUTE?