It is estimated that between 2020 and 2050, new buildings will produce about half of their lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from operational energy use, and a half from embodied carbon associated with the building materials and the method of construction. The use of the right materials in buildings can help reduce operational energy as well as embodied carbon, thereby playing a key role in decarbonizing the building sector. In this regard, a webinar was organized on the 19th of October 2022 by the Building Energy Efficiency Community of Practice (BEE CoP) of the Asia LEDS Partnership, in collaboration with the regional Zero Carbon Building Accelerator (ZCBA) programme for South Asia. The ZCBA is a continuation of the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) initiative that supports global climate goals through building decarbonization.
The webinar witnessed the participation of officials from sub-national governments, building material researchers, practitioners, and industry representatives, with an aim to identify challenges and opportunities to adopt and accelerate the deployment of low-carbon building materials. A total of 45 participants attended the webinar including 31 male and 14 female participants. The webinar was also promoted to South Asian cities in the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) network.
To better understand the topic, key experts in this field shared their knowledge and experience with the participants during the webinar. Mr. Jeremy Bourgault, from the Secretariat of the Programme for Energy Efficiency in Buildings, AFD gave an overview of the emissions from building materials and their contribution across different stages of the lifespan of a building. He mentioned that there is a need to rethink the way buildings are designed and constructed and that addressing embodied emissions must be considered from the early planning and design stage.
He went on to use the Avoid, Shift and Improve approach, commonly applied in clean mobility policies, to explain the way buildings should be better designed and constructed to account for carbon reduction potentials.
In continuation on the topic of low-carbon building materials, Mr. Rajeev Ralhan, Partner at PwC India, spoke of the different initiatives that have been undertaken to create a conducive ecosystem for the adoption and deployment of low-carbon building materials. He spoke of the work being done in India and the European Union on the collation of energy efficiency building materials directory to the development of a software tool to estimate the embodied carbon of building construction and recommendations of low embodied energy alternative materials. He lastly stated that there was a need to conduct research and innovation studies at the policy, market, and technology level, in cooperation with industry partners.
Towards the end of the webinar, Dr. Sameer Maithel, Founder Director, Greentech Knowledge Solutions, India shared a case study on reducing upfront embodied carbon through the right choice of building material and construction technology. He mentioned that between 20-50% reduction in upfront embodied carbon could be achieved by using building materials such as hollow burnt clay blocks, autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) blocks, and fly ash bricks, among others. Dr. Maithel emphasized that a bottom-up approach would need to be applied to upscale the use of low-carbon building materials and construction technologies. This would include engagement with the local building material industry and actors, such as micro and small enterprises, local developers and contractors, masons, and home buyers.
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Click here to listen to the complete recording of the webinar.