As more and more cities across the world join the race to reach climate neutrality by 2050, there’s a growing focus on driving deeper climate action in the heating and building sector which will require increased attention on public-private partnerships, including aligned net-zero roadmaps and technology platforms.

This week I am joining global business leaders, industry experts, and foreign and energy minsters and state secretaries in a virtual roundtable at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue – which includes Dr. Ursula von der Leyen, John Kerry and Heiko Mass – and the Urban Energy Forum to engage in transformative discussions about how to unlock the enormous potential for green growth and decarbonise the building sector.

In the global conversation around energy transition, buildings have seldom been considered as a critical climate solution in the accelerated push towards decarbonisation. However, the building sector is a key piece of the puzzle to powering a 100% renewable world. To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, every building be it a house, an office, a shop, factory, or educational facility must operate at net zero carbon by 2050, yet less than one percent of buildings are currently.

As one of the largest sources of carbon pollution, buildings are leaving a giant footprint on the planet – the construction, lighting, electricity, heating, and cooling accounting for nearly 40% of all energy-related CO2 emissions. With the eyes of the world on energy transition, how can we drive collective action to make carbon-neutral buildings a reality? Which paths must be taken so that buildings will no longer consume energy in the future, but instead produce it?

Not only are buildings major sources of emissions, and a historically overlooked issue, but our growing cities, are compounding the problem. Since the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched in 2015, including the SDG Ambition that I was part of co-creating together with the UN Global Compact in 2019, there is an acceleration in building smart cities and resilient neighbourhoods. One of the key targets of the SDG Ambition is to achieve 100% sustainable material inputs that are renewable, recyclable, or reusable which has placed an increasing focus on reimagining how we construct buildings with an emphasis on recycling and rethinking materials.

We need to use holistic thinking and have everyone from financiers to planners, architects to builders, engineers to occupiers, come together. That is why at Wood, our journey starts with the power of partnership with a structured and dynamic process to set targets and map assets. Transforming the heating and building sector to achieve net zero and resilience requires effective collaboration across the value chain and the sustainable development spectrum to unlock finance, ESG performance, project development, and stakeholder acceptance.

In the post-COVID era, we are seeing an acceleration in strategic partnerships across the world which we are now adapting into the building sector. More cities are facilitating public-private partnerships to jointly drive a net-zero agenda. Strategic partnerships give operators and developers of infrastructure and industrial assets opportunities to map out how their emission reduction ambitions will be achieved.

Operators need to fully understand the evolving policy landscape and their carbon baseline before defining objectives and targets for decarbonisation through benchmarking, assessing market impacts and taking consideration of policy and corporate strategy. Underpinned by a consistent delivery and value realisation model, a decarbonisation roadmap can screen asset resiliency and identify technologies like real-time carbon footprinting software or low carbon building and heating solutions like low emissions cement, eco boilers, solar or hybrid systems.

As the world turns its attention to catalysing a step-change towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in the months leading up to UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November, an increasing number of operators in the heating and building sector will need robust solutions to transition roadmaps into achievable, measurable actions and projects.

Through our decarbonisation SCORE methodology, Wood is leading the charge in shaping an impactful, transformative approach to help infrastructure developers, asset owners and operators identify vulnerabilities, prioritise resiliency goals and forge a path to creating carbon-neutral buildings.

Ann Rosenberg

Ann Rosenberg
Senior Vice President of Sustainable Development

Prior to joining Wood she was Senior Vice President & Global Head of SAP Next-Gen, connecting the United Nations and industry with academic thought leaders and researchers, students, startups, accelerators, tech community partners, purpose driven partners, venture firms, futurists to reimagine the future of industries and the intelligent enterprise, seed in disruptive innovation with startups, and build skills for digital futures.