COP26 climate conference confirms the built environment day on November 11

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The annual UN climate conference, COP26, will address carbon emissions from buildings for the first time on a day dedicated to the built environment on Thursday, November 11, organizers confirmed.


Cities, Regions and the Built Environment Day will take place during the second week of the conference, to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.

The remaining days of the conference will cover topics such as nature, energy, finance and gender.

Details of the built environment day are scarce. The schedule for COP26, which was unveiled earlier this month, says the day will involve “taking action forward in the places where we live, from communities to cities and regions.”

But the consecration of a full-day conference on the theme of emissions from buildings and cities comes amid growing fears that the sector, which is responsible for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse, has not been neglected in the fight against climate change.

Emissions from the built environment, a “sleeping giant”

The day is organized by a coalition of international organizations, including the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Roland Hunziker, Director of Sustainable Buildings and Cities at WBSCD, described emissions from the built environment as “the sleeping giant”.

“Quite frankly, today nobody really pays much attention to the total impact of building emissions,” he told Dezeen. “And so that has to change.”

One topic that the Built Environment Day should cover is net zero buildings. These are buildings that do not emit net CO2 into the atmosphere, either through the embedded carbon emitted by the construction supply chain or during the building’s use.

“How can we give more visibility to the sleeping giant, the built environment, which is a massive source of carbon emissions?” Hunziker said. “It’s the energy we use to heat and cool our buildings, but it’s also obviously in materials.”

“If we want to reduce emissions throughout the lifecycle of buildings, we need to involve those who develop projects,” Hunziker said. “So we need to talk to the investors, developers and architects who design these buildings.”

Architecture among the least well represented sectors in Race to Zero

UN climate champion Nigel Topping last month told Dezeen more action was needed from architects ahead of the vital conference.

The industry is among the slowest to adhere to the UN’s Race to Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate net carbon emissions from the global economy by 2050, he said.

“Architecture is one of the less well-represented companies in the race to zero,” Topping told Dezeen. “We are working hard to change that so that when we reach COP26, we can really show ambition within the sector.”

COP26 brings together the countries that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, which commits signatories to becoming net-zero by 2050 to give the world a chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The Race to Zero campaign aims to get 20% of companies in each sector of the economy to commit to the same goal.

Other activities related to COP26 include the Built Environment Summit at RIBA in London, which will discuss zero carbon buildings and generate a set of policy demands that will be presented at the conference.

COP26 will take place at the SEC Center in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, 2021. Check out the Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest information you need to know to attend the event, as well as a list of other events from architecture and design taking place around the world.


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