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Green building is a solution to mitigation of climate change

Published: 21 October 2009

Geneva

Green building is a solution to mitigation of climate change. Energy efficient construction for new buildings, and renovation of existing buildings, can reduce the 40-50% of energy used for space and water heating in buildings. However ,if current inefficient building practices continue, buildings could account for 70% of CO2 emissions by 2050. Life cycle assessment (LCA), carbon-focused, building rating systems are “material neutral” but a green building assessment schemes without a scientific LCA basis underestimate the carbon intensity issue. Some countries have green building rating systems, and other countries are considering establishing them, but existing green building rating systems lack a LCA basis.

These were some of the conclusions from a UNECE/FAO workshop, which was held during the Timber Committee Week, and was titled “Responding to climate change: Wood’s place in a global approach to green building”. The workshop’s conclusions and recommendations were endorsed by the Timber Committee.

The workshop recommended:

  • Build strategic alliances with all stakeholders to acknowledge the contribution of wood products in buildings to fight climate change. The strategic alliances should be formed at least of forest industry, environmental NGOs, Government and the scientific community.
  • The UNECE Timber Committee urges the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to consider carbon sequestration in harvested wood products as a contribution in the mitigation of climate change
  • Promote life cycle analysis in green building rating systems, as separate from local credits
  • Pursue the work between the UNECE’s Timber Committee, Committee on Sustainable Energy and Committee on Housing and Land Management, towards a roadmap on green building
  • Contribute to training and communication, in a plain and easy way, the architects, civil engineers and builders about the use of wood in green buildings, including via distance learning and continuing education
  • Support innovation in technology platforms to improve wood products and building systems
  • Forest products industries should support the R&D in developing life cycle inventory datasets for their products to support green building and green design
  • Continuously update the knowledge on the contribution of wood in LCA of buildings in order to keep up with evolution in other construction materials and in an energy consumption context.

Together with partners, especially the Government of Canada, the UNECE plans to conduct a major green building conference in 2010 in Quebec City, Canada, titled “Green building and climate change: From science to policies”. One of the objectives will be to encourage existing and forthcoming green building rating systems to employ a LCA basis for all construction materials in buildings, both new and renovation.

For additional details on the workshop, please contact:

Mr. Ed Pepke

Acting Chief and Forest Products Marketing Specialist
UNECE/FAO Timber Section
UNECE Trade and Timber Division
Room 448 Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0) 22 917 2872
Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 0041
E-mail: info.timber@unece.org
Website: www.unece.org/timber/

Ref: ECE/TIM/09/P08


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

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CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

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