On the five-year anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC) launched today a campaign to decarbonise Ireland’s built environment across its whole life cycle.
As part of #BuildingLife, the IGBC will bring together representatives from across the sector to produce a science-based and industry-backed national decarbonisation roadmap for the built environment.
Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council explained: “Most of industry and policy focus to date has been on tackling operational carbon. I.e. the emissions associated with the energy we use to heat and light our homes. But with half a million homes to be built by 2040, we cannot afford to focus exclusively on this. The conversation needs to move on to the total environmental impacts of the built environment across its entire lifecycle”.
#BuildingLife aims to achieve the mix of private sector action and public policy necessary to tackle the whole-life impact of buildings. In Ireland, the project launched with the support of several high profile ambassadors, including Ali Grehan, City Architect, Dublin City Council; David Browne, Managing Director, RKD Architects; John Maxwell, CEO, Lioncor; Steve Murphy, Managing Director – Technical Operations, Hines Europe and Susan McGarry, Managing Director, Ecocem Ireland.
Ali Grehan, City Architect at Dublin City Council said: “We cannot meet the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050, unless we tackle the environmental impacts of buildings across their entire lifecycle. I firmly believe that the public sector must lead by example, and I am thrilled to support #BuildingLife”.
John Maxwell, CEO of Lioncor added: “I was delighted and honoured to be asked to be an ambassador for the #Buildinglife programme. Never before has the impact of our collective actions been so important in tackling climate change and together with the Irish Green Building Council, I hope to play my part in creating a roadmap for carbon life cycle regulation”.
The IGBC will work on the #BuildingLife campaign alongside nine other European Green Building Councils (GBCs). Each GBC will develop a national roadmap and together, they will work to develop an EU policy roadmap for sector decarbonisation.
At European level, the project launched with the support of three prominent Members of the European Parliament: Ciarán Cuffe (Greens), Maria Spyraki (EPP) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP).
Irish MEP, Ciarán Cuffe said: “I am delighted to support the #BuildingLife campaign. A sustainable future in line with the EU Green Deal demands more action at EU level to tackle total carbon and resource impacts.”
#BuildingLife is supported by a coalition of funders focused on driving a more sustainable built environment. Today the Irish Green Building Council and its partners announced that two new grants from the IKEA Foundation and Laudes Foundation, totalling over €3 million, have been secured.
Currently EU and member state buildings policy only addresses energy use while buildings are operational. #BuildingLife focuses not only on the operational emissions of buildings, but also on the environmental impact of the manufacturing, transportation, construction, and end-of-life phases of built assets – often called embodied emissions – which account for around 11% of all global greenhouse gases.
Tackling these emissions is essential to addressing the total impact of the building sector and progressing towards the European Green Deal’s aim of a climate neutral Europe by 2050.
Edgar van de Brug, Programme Manager Climate Action, the IKEA Foundation said: “The IKEA Foundation is supporting the #BuildingLife project to tackle whole life carbon emissions in Europe’s built environment. We believe it offers a tangible way to protect the planet by aiming for net zero emissions in the construction industry, while developing green housing solutions that will benefit many people.”
James Drinkwater, Head of Built Environment, Laudes Foundation added: “Accelerating industry, regulators and investors towards a net-zero carbon built environment is critical — and we must tackle emissions across the whole building life cycle if we’re serious about it. Laudes Foundation is proud to support European Green Building Councils’ pioneering work: developing clear roadmaps with industry, shifting policies to tackle embodied carbon, and accelerating investor action on this agenda.”
What will #BuildingLife achieve?
#BuildingLife will accelerate the ambitions of the European Green Deal in the building sector, and create the first region-wide response to the vision of a net-zero embodied carbon built environment set out in World Green Building Council’s 2019 report. The project will create a pathway for other world regions to follow.
#BuildingLife will do this by:
- Creating a roadmap demonstrating how EU buildings policy can adopt whole life carbon targets.
- Launching a new Whole Life Carbon Commitment within World Green Building Council’s global Advancing Net Zero
- Establishing leadership groups on a European and national scale to contribute to the creation of national whole life carbon roadmaps towards net zero.
- Supporting the development of a building product database on the full environmental impact of different building materials.
- Kickstarting a communications campaign recruiting MEPs, policymakers and industry leaders to publicly advocate for a whole life cycle approach.
The ambassadors that joined the campaign so far, are:
Ali Grehan (City Architect at Dublin City Council), John Maxwell (CEO at Lioncor), Francis Noel Duffy (T.D), David Browne (Managing Director at RKD Architects), Steve Murphy (Managing Director at Hines Europe), Wayne Metcalfe (Director at John Sisk and Sons), Ciaran Cuffe (MEP), Susan McGarry (Managing Director at Ecocem Ireland), Jeff Colley (Editor of Passive House Plus), Eoin Ó Broin (TD), Cian O’Callaghan (TD), Eugene O’Shea (Managing Director at Walls Construction), Oonagh Reid (Engineering Consultant at Arup), Rachael McGinley (Head Of Sustainability at CBRE), Pat Crean (CEO at Marlet), Kathryn Meghen (CEO at RIAI), Sarah Ingle (Secretary General at ACEI), Phelim O’Neill (Land Development Agency), Paul O’Neill (Head of Cost Planning at CairnHomes).