The buildings and construction sector uses 36% of global energy, 25% of water and around 39% of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the energy intensity of the sector needs to improve 30% by 2030.

One Planet’s Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme is working to make sustainable building practices mainstream by bringing all sustainable construction activities under one umbrella. Its projects are designed to improve knowledge of sustainable construction, develop sustainable solutions, improve sustainability of entire supply chains, pilot and implement new projects and share its knowledge and solutions globally.

The 2017 Global Status Report looks at the state of global buildings and construction since the Paris Agreement, and examines the actions that countries, cities, industry and others can take to put the global buildings and construction sector on a sustainable trajectory. It makes clear that while progress is being made, current policies and investments fall short of what we need and what is possible, and that addressing energy demands and emissions from buildings and construction is urgent.

“We urgently need to move towards a pollution free planet, to tackle climate change and to drive sustainable development. We can only do that with decisive action in [the buildings and construction] sector. Technologically and commercially viable solutions exist, but we need stronger policies and partnerships to scale them up more rapidly.”

– Erik Solheim, Executive Director United Nations Environment Programme Under-Secretary General, United Nations

The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction’s ‘2017 Global Roadmap: Towards low-GHG and resilient buildings’ describes the overarching goals, steps and agenda that the building and construction sector can share, and creates a framework and vision in line with the climate-related objectives in the Paris Agreement: for the global temperature rise to stay well below 2°C and to be carbon neutral in the second half of this century.

  • 82% of final energy consumption in buildings was supplied by fossil fuels in 2015
  • Energy-efficient and low-carbon heating and cooling technology investments would reduce final energy demand in buildings by 25%
  • Nearly two-thirds of countries do not have mandatory building energy codes in place today


India’s cities are short nearly 19 million housing units, forcing poorer residents to live in crowded, unsafe or temporary housing, or on the streets. Government solutions have historically focused exclusively on cheap housing, to the exclusion of sustainable housing.

The Sustainable Social Housing in India report outlines steps that can be takento ensure social housing is both affordable and sustainable, providing homesfor vulnerable citizens while aligning with India’s commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.


That construction is the #1 consumer of global raw materials?

Check out this video from the One Planet network’s Sustainable Buildings and Constuction Programme and Finland’s Ministry of the Environment to learn about how the construction industry can use a circular economy approach to reduce its reliance on virgin resources!

Energy poor households spend more on energy, but maintain a lower quality of life. In the ‘Through Knowledge to Warmer Homes’ project in Croatia, small energy efficiency measures were implemented in 80 households in the city of Petrinja. Measure included things like using LED light fixtures, installing draft-proof sealing and timers for electric boilers. In one year, households saved an average of 700 kilowatt hours of energy, 18t CO2 and 400 kunas (~ EUR 50). The project is now working with 100 households in the City of Zagreb, and policy recommendations have been included in national legislation. 


A wrecking ball, a cloud of dust, an industrial dumpster… what happens to building materials when a building is torn down?

Today, most of it ends up as trash… and new structures require brand new resources.

The Buildings as Material Banks project (BAMB), funded by the EU within the Horizon 2020 program, is working to change this, so buildings function as ‘banks’ of valuable materials – slowing the use of resources to a rate our planet can sustain.

More new homes are being designed for energy efficiency, but when those homes are built, they often don’t perform as well as predicted—50% less efficiently onaverage. To make sure that that ‘as built’ matches ‘as designed’, the Bioregional Building Energy Performance Improvement Toolkit gives homebuilders detailed but easily understood educational materials plus expert guidance through design, procurement and construction. The toolkit is being applied to more than 300 newhomes in the UK and has improved energy efficiency by 40% so far.

While sustainable housing in developed countries focuses on being “green”, housing for development must look beyond energy and emissions at the impact on people and societies— from territories to neighbourhoods to individual households. 

SHERPA is a free app that lets anyone involved in the planning, design, construction or assessment of a housing projects analyse how well it supports the four pillars of sustainability: social, economic, environmental and cultural.

RenoValue is a training toolkit for valuers on how to factor energy efficiency and renewable energy issues into valuation practices, understand the impact of building performance and property values and advise their clients accordingly. The training material was developed collaboratively through pan-European round tables and face-to-face pilot sessions, and by December 2017, more than 1,700 people from 25 European countries and beyond had enrolled in the free online course.

Access the free, multi-lingual e-learning course:

Download the free slides for face-to-face training sessions:

Available languages: German, English, Dutch, Polish, Italian, French, Swedish, Greek

Developed as a common EU framework of core indicators for the sustainability of office and residential buildings, ‘Level(s)’ provides indicators and common metrics for measuring the environmental performance of buildings along their life cycle. It also enables the assessment of other important aspects of building performance, including indicators for health and comfort, life cycle cost and potential future risks to performance.


With 3.6 million residents, the Aburrá Valley is Colombia’s second largest urban area. In 2015, the Area Metropolitana del Valle de Aburrá created aSustainable Construction Policy to shift towards an eco-efficient, socially inclusive and economically viable urban development for the region.

The advantage from getting this support from 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Conpsumption and Production is that it has helped us engage more stakeholders than we had in the past. Now we’re working with the local private sector in construction… the 10 municipalities that are part of our valley [and] a local company that’s in charge of waste management, water supply and energy supply. So these stakeholders are working together for the purpose of sustainable planning.”

– Guillermo Penagos

Activities include public policy outreach and guidance, researching the economic viability of recycling construction and demolition waste, and training people on the commercial value of sustainability. The government is also advising both public and private sector organizations on sustainable construction pilot projects—including three social housing projects, a municipal administrative headquarters and a private commercial project on stores and offices.

To strengthen sustainability issues relative to the Pakistani framework, the ‘Guidelines for Pakistan Building Regulation Renewal’ was produced with support from the One Planet network’s Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme. New topics were introduced and links were made to the existing work. The most valuable input was clarification on the content and availability of locally applicable rating schemes.


In 2018, Ivory Coast is planning to adopt a new environmental tax system to fund the country’s sustainable development efforts. Under the “polluter-pays” principle, companies that pollute are taxed more, while companies operating sustainably get tax incentives.