44% cut in Construction’s emissions

Emissions generated by buildings and infrastructure in the world’s cities could be cut by 44% by 2050 if action is taken, says a report by Arup, C40 Cities and the University of Leeds.

The report, ‘Building and infrastructure consumption emissions’, urges action in six key areas to reduce the climate impact of construction in cities:

  • Implementing efficiency in material design,
  • Enhancing existing building utilisation,
  • Switching high-emission materials to sustainable timber where appropriate,
  • Using lower-carbon cement.
  • Reusing building materials and components,
  • Using low or zero-emission construction machinery

As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the research says that additional economic, social and health benefits could be generated by ‘clean’ construction. The interventions identified in the research would reduce air and noise pollution, providing health benefits for citizens and the environment, says the report. They would also spark change within the growing construction economy, providing opportuinities for new jobs and skills.

“As the sector responsible for the largest share of consumption-based emissions in C40 cities between now and 2050, it’s clear that the construction sector must do more to reduce its carbon impact”, says Ben Smith, Arup director for energy, cities and climate change. “Our research shows that there are significant opportunities to act, but we need to rethink the way buildings andinfrastructure are delivered. Making that change a reality will rely on working with all those with responsibility for delivering development.; We believe that the construction sector can embrace this change, if it invests in necessary skills and training and seeks to promote innovation”.

“The world’s cities are growing fast, with an area the size of Milan being built every week”, said Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities. “It may be a boom time for builders but the construction industry is a major contributor to the climate crisis.

“As C40’s research demonstrates, citizens will ultimately benefit from cleaner air, quieter streets and lower prices. Now it is up to businesses and industry to recognise the risks of inaction and work with mayors and consumers to make sure everyone benefits from the huge opportunities that lie ahead from clean construction”.