UNFCCC |Expterts Inspire Action for Low-Emission Buildings

The opening of the Global Technical Expert Meetings on Mitigation (TEM-M) 2020 and its first session ‘’Cool Buildings for All” was held virtually on 30 September, connecting leading experts from around the world to share low emission housing and building solutions as a powerful strategy for green recovery.

As the sector with the most potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the objective of the meetings – organized by the UNFCCC secretariat and the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) – is to continue building a community that drives and implements an ambitious vision for the sector: Zero Carbon Buildings by 2050, in the wider context of sustainable human settlements.

In the opening session, participants heard from the Chair of the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), Mr. Mareer Mohamed Husny, who reported on the discussions at the Regional TEMS and said that the factor for successful technology leapfrogging in cooling solutions include cost-efficient technical and financial support, as well as establishing the right regional, national and municipal policy framework.

Martina Otto, Head, Cities Unit & Head of Secretariat, GABC mentioned that with increasing heatwaves, cooling is the next hot issue, driving up energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. She said there are policies that need to be in place to get the available cooling solutions to scale. Embedding clean cooling solutions – from building design and urban form to cool roofs, green roofs and facades, to modern district cooling into the next generation of NDCs, as well as national and sub-national climate strategies is key to protecting human health and the climate.

Participants at the meeting provided a range of examples of what is being done to reduce emissions in the sector, from cooling technologies that use minimal electricity to sustainable building standards for new buildings.

The triple threat of rising temperature, skyrocketing cooling demand, and rapid urban development in emerging economies was highlighted by Mr. Polash Mukerjee, Lead Climate Resilience, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) India. He demonstrated concrete examples of a local level Heat Action Plan to deploy cool roofs in low-income communities, as well as a National level Cooling Action Plan to reduce cooling demand 20-25% by 2038.

Jessica Grove-Smith, Senior Scientist and Joint Managing Director of Passive House Institute, explained how a 50% reduction in cooling needs can be achieved through the concept of passive building design, which uses layout, fabric and form to reduce or remove mechanical cooling, heating, ventilation and lighting demand.

David Callow, Director of Parks and City Greening in Melbourne, Australia, described an urban forest strategy to achieve 40% tree canopy cover by 2040, and city initiatives to drive greening in private properties, including mandatory sustainable building standards for new buildings.

And Gabby Dreyfuss, Chief Science Advisor to the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program, stressed the need to start deploying available technologies with the least climate impact as new technologies to improve building design and operations are developed.

James Grabert, Director of the UNFCCC Mitigation Division, said ‘’The UNFCCC secretariat looks forward to taking stock of the outcomes of these meetings with the aim of better supporting Parties’ implementation efforts through our regional collaboration centres and through more targeted and intensive policy maker engagement. The outcomes of meetings can enable the support institutions of the UNFCCC, including those of the Financial and Technology Mechanisms, to target their activities in support of countries’ needs and the highest impact mitigation actions.’’

Upcoming Technical Expert Meetings

The third session “Developing pathways for moving to scale” will take place on 14 October to highlight pathways for both ambitious building standards and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and ways to accelerate action through regional coordination and stakeholder engagement.

The programme, speakers, recording (if available) and further information about the meetings can be found here.

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Source: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 06 October 2020