Climate Chance Observatory
After the first shocks linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing buildings resumed at full speed in the second half of 2020 in Europe and the United States, to the point of causing supply shortages and dramatic inflation in the prices of many building materials. However, the production of these materials is highly greenhouse gas-emitting, especially cement and steel. In recent years, initiatives have been implemented to give priority to renovation, and to take the “embodied carbon” into account in new constructions.
- From the second half of 2020 onwards, construction sites reopened as quickly as they had closed at the beginning of the year, and the construction sector ended the year with overall growth. After the outbreak of the pandemic, the building industry has split the world in two.
- On the one hand, the constructed surface area in Africa, China and India will double or even triple by the middle of the century. However, there are still only few regulatory instruments in these countries to regulate building projects, in terms of either materials or energy efficiency. Recent actions by the Chinese government, however, gives us reason to hope for a more ambitious framework in the coming years.
- On the other hand, existing buildings will account for most of the built environment in 2050 in the countries of the Global North, and the challenge is therefore to reduce emissions arising from their use. The pandemic recovery is going strong in these countries, supported by recovery plans that target investments in energy renovation, and local laws that appear, particularly in the United States, to make certain renovations compulsory. However, the pace still seems too slow for the challenges.
In addition, many initiatives are arising to consider the carbon impact of the manufacture of constructions and renovation materials, primarily cement and steel.