UNECE-FAO Workshop Highlights Green Building for Climate Change Mitigation
21 October 2009: A workshop on “Responding to climate change: wood's place in a global approach to green building,” was organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) during the Timber Committee Week, held from 12-16 October 2009. Among the workshop's conclusions was agreement that green building is a solution to climate change mitigation: energy-efficient construction for new buildings and renovation of existing buildings can reduce 40-50% of energy used for space and water heating.
However, participants noted that, if current inefficient building practices continue, buildings could account for 70% of CO2 emissions by 2050. Life cycle assessment (LCA), carbon-focused, building rating systems are “material neutral,” but green building assessment schemes without a scientific LCA basis underestimate the carbon intensity issue. Some countries have green building rating systems, and other countries are considering establishing them, but existing green building rating systems lack a LCA basis. The workshop recommended, inter alia, that the UNECE Timber Committee urge the UNFCCC COP15 to consider carbon sequestration in harvested wood products as a contribution in climate change mitigation. [UNECE press release] [Workshop conclusions and recommendations]