A range of industry bodies and organisations will be heading to Glasgow to campaign for the built environment to be a central component of national decarbonisation plans around the world

Global leaders at the COP26 International Climate Change Conference will come under pressure to put sustainable building policies at the heart of their national decarbonisation commitments.

Specialists and campaigners representing the building engineering sector will be among the delegates at the major meeting of world leaders that starts this week in Glasgow to push for stronger commitments on transforming how buildings are heated and powered.

Among the construction industry bodies present at COP26 is the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).

Julie Hirigoyen, UKGBC chief executive, said after the first day of the conference on November 1 that the council would be urging the UK government to be more ambitious in its building policies, standards and regulation to support industry aims to decarbonise.


Ms Hirigoyen said that this work would build on the UKGBC’s ongoing work to set out a whole life carbon roadmap that can curb emissions at all points of a building’s lifecycle.  This would include the construction and shipping of materials used in a building and its systems, through to how it operates and is later repurposed or demolished.

Any successful holistic carbon plan is expected to need to address issues of embodied carbon in buildings, as well supporting the retrofitting of homes and other properties to be more energy efficient and able to support low carbon heating.

Cross industry engineering alliance Actuate UK will also be present at COP26.   It will be taking part in a discussion on the built environment that is scheduled for 11 November as part of an event hosted by the Construction Leadership Council.

Michelle Agha-Hossein, a chartered engineer who serves as the Building Performance and Soft Landings Lead for Actuate UK member organisation BSRIA, will be presenting the session on how the industry can collaboratively address building decarbonisation.

She said, “I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to participate at COP26 in Glasgow and look forward to presenting how the built environment can decarbonise through retrofitting existing building stock, given most will still be in operation in 2050.”

BSRIA will also be showcasing work on improving the sustainability and performance of buildings as part of a joint venture with London South Bank University (LSBU) called the Net Zero Building Centre (NZBC).

NZBC will be part of a COP26 event scheduled for 4 November to discuss issues around ensuring there are sufficient skills within sectors such as engineering and construction to successfully reduce carbon emissions at a national level.

UK’s net zero aims

COP26 is taking place less than a month after the publication of the UK’s Heat and Buildings Strategy that set out fresh commitments for expanding uptake of heat pump sand lower carbon heat networks over the next decade and beyond.

Despite a broad welcome for some of the new funding announcements, there was some industry criticism around a lack of fresh commitments to improve the energy efficiency of the existing UK building stock to support a move away from fossil fuel heat.


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