Is Net Zero Building an achievable goal? [Podcast]

In this episode we are tackling the burning issue of net zero carbon emissions. Is it an achievable goal in 2050 when it comes to the building sector? What part do materials play in this race against climate change?

SPEAKERS

  • Victoria Kate Burrows, Director of Advancing Net Zero at the World Green Building Council 
  • Emmanuel Normant, vice-president of sustainable development at Saint-Gobain

THE PITCH

Just to remind you, on December the 15th 2015, the Paris Agreement was adopted by196 state parties. It’s a set of goals designed within the framework of the United Nations to fight against climate change. 

This was hailed as a truly historic moment: it was the start of the race to curb global greenhouse gas emissions so that temperature rise remains below 2 degrees Celcius and, ideally, below 1.5 degrees.

The European commission president Jean-Claude Junker, then expressed the challenge: « Today the world gets (…) a last chance to hand over to future generations a world that is more stable, a healthier planet, fairer societies and more prosperous economies. This robust agreement will steer the world towards a global clean energy transition ».

The stakes are huge. Four years after, according to the UN, global emissions are reaching record levels and show no sign of peaking. The last four years were the four hottest on record, and winter temperatures in the Arctic have risen by 3° since 1990.

Many have begun to act. So, we decided to take a look at how materials we use for our daily lives can foster the change we need. 

Indeed, where do global emissions come from? Planes, power stations, cars and big industrial plants are easy to point to. Especially industries manufacturing just three materials: concrete, steel and aluminum. However, one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions is all around us: buildings. Buildings we work in, the buildings we live in.

According to the International Energy Agency, buildings are responsible for almost 40% of global energy consumption and emissions. Politics, builders, investors... all will have to make critical decisions related to energy, transport, and housing. But how can we turn these commitments into real actions? One common goal has been defined as « net zero building ». What is it? Is it an achievable goal or just a utopian promise?