Constructing a new, low-carbon future

How Chinese cities are scaling ambitious building energy-efficient solutions

27 Sep 2018

This report illustrates that adjusting building standards to impact the cities' environment, economy and etc. The standards mentioned here starts from the construction process until the entire lifecycle of the building in Chinese cities. Research support that buildings that are both energy efficient and supplied by clean energy is fundamental in securing a climate-safe future. In 2016 C40 and Arup launched ‘Deadline 2020: How cities will get the job done’ – an analysis of the emissions reductions required in order for C40 cities to play their part in keeping global average temperature rise below 1.5°C. This analysis not only showed that if such a pathway were to be adopted by cities globally, that action within urban areas would deliver around 40% of the savings needed to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement; but it also showed buildings to be the most important policy leaver in the urban environment in terms of emissions reduction potential.

With buildings, energy use accounting for over 50% of city emissions on average, often much higher, follow up research to Deadline 2020 has highlighted the specific policy actions that have the greatest potential to curb emissions and ensure a 1.5°C pathway through to 2030. In partnership with C40, the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment has published ‘Focused Acceleration: A strategic approach to climate action in cities to 2030.’ This report takes more than 450 emission reduction actions identified in Deadline 2020 and prioritises 12 of these opportunities, across four action areas, that lay the foundation for a zero carbon future: “focused acceleration.” Half of these actions directly relate to buildings:

• Distributed renewables
• New build standards
• Building envelope retrofits
• HVAC and water heating
• Lighting upgrades
• Building automation and controls

Addressing these challenges quickly will require the rapid mobilisation of supply chains, finance, citizen engagement, reporting of building energy use data, and the enforcement of appropriate planning and building standards. Cities won’t be able to do it alone. Mayors will need the support of national governments in terms of the resources and powers that accelerate action. Yet with the building sector consuming almost 1/3 of primary energy across the world the case to be presented to national governments is clear (IEA, 2017). That’s why in 2017 C40 launched the Building Energy 2020 Programme (BE2020), so as to support more than 50 of the world’s largest cities to take action and develop policies that urgently reduce emissions from existing buildings, and avoid carbon lock-in from inefficient new buildings. Through this global programme, the intention is to gather and share knowledge from across the world, build capacity, and demonstrate the momentum of cities as they lead the charge to play their role in turning the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement from ambition to reality.

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