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The World Economic Forum

WEF offers solutions for cities to cut carbon emissions in construction

DUBAI, April 23, 2024

A report released by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Centre for Urban Transformation has featured best practices developed by pioneer cities that are reducing carbon emissions from urban development projects, a news agency said.

As cities grow in population and importance, urban construction will continue to gather pace. It is estimated that the global floor area is expected to double by 2060, the equivalent of building out New York City every month for the next 40 years, Emirates News Agency said, citing the report.

The report, Reducing Embodied Carbon in Cities: Nine Solutions for Greener Buildings and Communities, highlights nine innovative solutions for all phases of construction and demolition.

“In recent years, a growing number of cities have taken decisive action to help bolster the operational efficiency of buildings,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of Urban Transformation at the World Economic Forum.

“Despite these gains, a more robust approach is needed to tackle carbon emissions across the entire life cycle of these structures. From rethinking traditional construction methods and materials to breathing new life into otherwise obsolete buildings, new solutions are rapidly emerging to tackle this challenging issue, collectively referred to as embodied carbon.”

The report highlights innovative solutions that provide a model for cities seeking to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Some of the case studies that demonstrate impact include: The One Westside Office Campus in Los Angeles, once a struggling mall that will become a state-of-the-art UCLA science campus, demonstrates the possibilities of adaptive reuse.

More than 75% of construction and demolition debris for the building was diverted from landfills, reducing the embodied carbon by 33% compared to a ground-up scenario.

The report also features case studies of cities that are developing a variety of approaches – from mandates and incentives to providing benchmarking tools – to reduce embodied carbon emissions from construction practices.

This includes:

  • Vancouver enacted an embodied carbon limit on all new construction and developed a benchmarking tool to measure emissions.
  • Seattle provides an expedited permitting process for projects that meet embodied carbon standards. This initiative benefits environmentally friendly construction companies by hastening construction while promoting the city’s environmental commitment.
  • New York City instituted a Clean Construction Executive Order mandating all capital project agencies to lower embodied carbon from municipal construction projects.

 




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