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Buildings Canada

Low-Premium, High-Value Strategies to Reduce Embodied & Operational Carbon in Buildings

The Critical Role of Building Design
Buildings are a largest source of carbon emissions of any sector and not until very recently have we begun to understand the potential climate impacts of projected building construction over the next 40 years. The global building floorspace is expected to double by 2060, but only 3% of investment in new construction is currently green and efficient. At the same time, the renovation rate for existing buildings is estimated to be 1%, a third of the rate needed to meet the Paris climate goals.

With homes and buildings accounting for 40% of global GHG emissions, reducing both embodied and operational carbon in construction will be critical to achieving net zero carbon targets by 2050. Of that total, 27% of emissions come from building operations, and 13% result from the embodied carbon of construction materials. As operational carbon decreases, the percentage of embodied carbon in total carbon emissions is expected to increase significantly over time. Between 2022 and 2050, it’s expected that embodied carbon could represent over 90% of a new building’s emissions.

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