United Nations Environment Programme- Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative - and NYU Schack's Center for the Sustainable Built Environment Forge New Partnership to Reduce the Global Carbon Footprint

Collaboration Will Focus on U.S. Buildings’ Greenhouse Gas Emissions

NEW YORK, March 3, 2011 –The United Nations Environment Programme Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (UNEP-SBCI) has selected the Center for the Sustainable Built Environment (SBE) at the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate, as a partner on an ambitious new initiative to establish baselines of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the building sector.  This unique partnership enables the SBE to take a leadership role in UNEP-SBCI’s global activities promoting sustainable building policies.    

In the initial phase, the SBE will produce a report that summarizes total GHG emissions from building operations in the U.S. The Buildings and Climate Change in the United States report will document current and historical energy consumption patterns in buildings, explore opportunities for, and barriers to, greater energy efficiency, forecast future trends through modeling of energy reduction scenarios and the implications of building-related GHG emissions.  The report is intended to inform policy recommendations at the national level, similar to reports previously produced by UNEP-SBCI for South Africa and Mexico. 

As a key component of the production of the U.S. report, the SBE will generate a potential standardized template that may be adopted by UNEP-SBCI for the development of subsequent national reports in other countries. The development of the U.S. report and similar initiatives in other countries will comprise a suite of national reports envisioned by UNEP-SBCI to provide recommendations and lessons learned that will be integrated in its bi-annual report, “Buildings and Climate Change: Summary for Decision Makers.”   

“The work that the NYU Schack Institute is doing will provide valuable information on the state of sustainable buildings in the United States,” said Arab Hoballah, chief of the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch of UNEP’s Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics and a UNEP-SBCI board member.  “This partnership with the SBE is important not only for the data that will inform us on sustainable buildings in the U.S., but also because it will provide us with a standardized template to collect and report similar information in many more countries.”

“Buildings in the U.S. account for approximately 38% of national carbon emissions and 8% of global emissions. We need more robust, comparable and consistent data with a clear understanding of the regulatory context, both in the U.S. and globally, to set targets and develop policies and market mechanisms that could substantially reduce emissions going forward,” said Dr. Constantine Kontokosta, director of the Center for the Sustainable Built Environment at the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate. “As the lead author, the SBE will use the report and its findings to forge a template that other regions can use as a guide.  It is both the SBE and UNEP-SBCI’s goal to assist countries in analyzing their emissions related to building operations and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment worldwide.  This collaboration with UNEP-SBCI and the WGBC to develop template is a great opportunity to contribute to reducing emissions from the building sector across the world.”

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