A Common Carbon Metric for Buildings

by

Posted By:
Achsah Carter
Consultant
Energy and Sustainability Services
United Kingdom

On Friday the UK Green Building Council’s chief executive, Paul King, was in Copenhagen presenting a new Common Carbon Metric report. The metric is the result of collaboration between worldwide Green Building Councils, experts and organisations, and aims to improve consistency in measuring energy use and reporting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from building operations.

Buildings account for around 40% of global GHG emissions, and life cycle analysis shows that 80-90% of these emissions are generated during a building’s operation. To date the plethora of ‘green labels’ for buildings (LEED, BREEAM, ENERGY STAR) have been mostly for design and construction stages so comparing buildings from different regions in terms of operational energy use is extremely difficult.

The Common Carbon Metric – now starting 12-month pilots in representative climate regions – could be vital for addressing this. Its simple metrics for energy and carbon intensity can be used on any building.

The IPCC calculates that the building sector is uniquely capable of delivering GHG cuts through existing technology, more quickly and effectively than the energy, transport or forestry sectors. With this in mind, the UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative simultaneously launched a Buildings and Climate Change – Summary for Decision Makers to persuade Copenhagen negotiators to include buildings in any agreement. UNEP recommends that investment in energy efficient buildings should be included in the Clean Development Mechanism and the building sector should be a priority for national emission reduction strategies.

Tweets from Paul King suggest the negotiators may be listening, as he typed optimistically, “Delegates around the world calling for better data, common metrics, emphasis on refurb.”

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