International building and construction businesses representing $22.95 billion in revenue committed to pursuing net zero carbon buildings by 2050 at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
The 12 businesses were joined by leaders from cities, states, and regions in signing the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. In total, the 38 founding signatories vow to eliminate a cumulative 209 million metric tons of carbon emissions equivalent from their buildings.
Businesses recruited from the Green Building Council network are seeking to eliminate operational carbon emissions from more than 10.7 million square meters of their building portfolios by 2030. WorldGBC says this will create a wider market transformation to enable net zero carbon buildings by 2050.
The following businesses signed on: AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund, Berkeley Group, Cundall, Frasers Property Australia, GPT Wholesale Office Fund, Integral Group, Kilroy Realty, Majid Al Futtaim, Salesforce, Shaw Contract Commercial, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), and Stockland.
“The challenges of climate change are global in scale and require a global response. No one company can solve problems at this scale by itself, but we can each contribute to an effort that enables all of us to create a net zero future,” Troy Virgo, director of sustainability and product stewardship for Shaw Contract said.
The WorldGBC views the commitment as a way to inspire industry and governments to develop aggressive strategies to start the actions necessary for change. Signatories agree to requirements such as evaluating their current energy use and associated emissions across their portfolios as well as identifying opportunities to reduce energy wastage, improve energy efficiency, and power buildings with renewable energy.
“All signatories will be expected to meet high verification standards, in the lead up to and in the year of achievement of net zero carbon emission buildings, and report annually on progress,” the WorldGBC says.
Business signatories are also being encouraged to advocate for eliminating carbon emissions through their operations. The WorldGBC gave an example from the Berkeley Group, which builds 10% of homes in London. The residential property developer already achieved the company’s target of becoming carbon positive for their own operations this year, but committed to making sure that all of their developments achieve net zero by 2030.
Salesforce, another signatory, announced earlier last year that the cloud computing company had achieved net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Recently Salesforce signed a PPA for 80 MW of wind power from a new facility in Illinois, part of a larger goal to power their operations with 100% renewable energy by 2020.
Next, WorldGBC aims to address embodied carbon — the carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacture, transport, and construction of building materials — along with end-of-life emissions. Embodied carbon emissions must reach net zero by 2050 in order to achieve a below 2 degree scenario, the council says.