If we needed the reminder, 2020 has proven that there is always potential for unforeseen events to overturn everyone’s expectations. Alas, one consequence of the pandemic and politi-cal instability has been that climate change has dropped out of the news headlines. This is es-pecially apparent when you think back to 2019, when the subject was more prominent than ever thanks to Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion.
At the time of writing, progress in multiple vaccine projects is raising hopes that a return to a more normal existence might be possible in a year or two. But that should not be used as a reason to delay action that could be taken now to reduce carbon output.
Net zero status report
One definite bit of good news is that Advancing Net Zero has continued to make progress in 2020. In its latest ‘Status Report’, issued on World Environment Day (June 5), the WorldGBC announced that 95 signatories are now part of the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (1). Underlining the scheme’s growing profile, the latest additions include real estate sustaina-bility consultancy EVORA Global, infrastructure and managing services consulting firm Surbana Jurong, and building services engineering and sustainability specialists Max Fordham.
Of the 95 signatories, 61 are businesses and organisations. According to WorldGBC, their col-lective action alone will result in a reduction in carbon emissions of more than 3.3 million tonnes. The Council also points to “a shift in political will towards net zero policy” with 28 cities and 6 states/regions signing up too. As more territories prove it is possible to achieve ambitious targets, more signatories are sure to follow.
The report also reminds readers of the five main stages of the Commitment, which are Com-mit, Disclose, Act, Verify and Advocate. The last-named factor underlines the importance of advocating for other organisations – such as those at different stages of a supply chain – to embrace change. After all, it stands to reason that by bringing all stakeholders into schemes, there is a greater chance of carbon reduction targets being achieved.
"Unexpected events have dominated everyone’s attention this year, but they can’t be allowed to distract from carbon reduction for too long", writes Priva’s Gavin Holvey.
This is the biggest of all ‘big picture’ issues, and it’s one that can only be addressed by collec-tive action. This year’s events may also add an extra layer of unpredictability. On one hand, the increase in home-working is bound to mean reduced demand for commercial property. On the other hand, continuing financial pressures could easily lead to corners being cut, including on the new building projects that do still go ahead.
The fact is, though, that we simply cannot afford to have a further generation of ‘unfit for purpose’ buildings. Everyone needs to work together to ensure that the offices and factories of the future are not able to have a negative impact on the environment. Advancing Net Zero has clear and defined goals, and it follows that aligning with this project is a major step in the right direction.
(1) The Advancing Net Zero Status Report 2020 can be read in full at https://www.worldgbc.org/advancing-net-zero-status-report-2020.