Advances Toward a Net-Zero Global Building Sector

Posted: 26 Oct 2020

See all articles by Diana Ürge-Vorsatz

Diana Ürge-Vorsatz

Central European University (CEU)

Radhika Khosla

University of Oxford

Rob Bernhardt

Passive House Canada

Yi Chieh Chan

Delta Electronics Foundation

David Vérez

University of Lleida

Shan Hu

Tsinghua University

Luisa F. Cabeza

University of Lleida

Date Written: October 1, 2020

Abstract

The building sector is responsible for 39% of process-related greenhouse gas emissions globally, making net- or nearly-zero energy buildings pivotal for reaching climate neutrality. This article reviews recent advances in key options and strategies for converting the building sector to be climate neutral. The evidence from the literature shows it is possible to achieve net- or nearly-zero energy building outcomes across the world in most building types and climates with systems, technologies, and skills that already exist, and at costs that are in the range of conventional buildings. Maximizing energy efficiency for all building energy uses is found as central to net-zero targets. Jurisdictions all over the world, including Brussels, New York, Vancouver, and Tyrol, have innovated visionary policies to catalyze themarket success of such buildings, with more than 7 million square meters of nearly-zero energy buildings erected in China alone in the past few years. Since embodied carbon in building materials can consume up to a half of the remaining 1.5°C carbon budget, this article reviews recent advances to minimize embodied energy and store carbon in building materials.

Suggested Citation

Ürge-Vorsatz, Diana and Khosla, Radhika and Bernhardt, Rob and Chan, Yi Chieh and Vérez, David and Hu, Shan and Cabeza, Luisa F., Advances Toward a Net-Zero Global Building Sector (October 1, 2020). Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 45, pp. 227-269, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3716084 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-012420-045843

Diana Ürge-Vorsatz (Contact Author)

Central European University (CEU) ( email )

Nador utca 9
Budapest, H-1051
Hungary

Radhika Khosla

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Rob Bernhardt

Passive House Canada ( email )

Victoria, British Columbia V9A 3S1
Canada

Yi Chieh Chan

Delta Electronics Foundation ( email )

11491 Taipei
Taiwan

David Vérez

University of Lleida

Victor Siurana 1
Lleida, LLEIDA 25003
Spain

Shan Hu

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084
China

Luisa F. Cabeza

University of Lleida ( email )

Victor Siurana 1
Lleida, LLEIDA 25003
Spain

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