Common Carbon Metric

30 Aug 2011

It has long been recognised that the operational part of the building sector is one of the major sources of CO2 emissions and is even one of the leading elements in the UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (SBCI) in which RPS has been active from its start in 2006.

The European Commission adopted a Roadmap for transforming the European Union into a competitive low carbon economy by 2050 on 8 March 2011.

The Roadmap describes the cost-effective pathway to reach the EU's objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% of the 1990 levels by 2050. Based on the cost-effectiveness analysis undertaken, the Roadmap gives direction.

For the residential and services sector, the Roadmap envisages a reduction in CO2 emissions of 37-53% by 2030 and 88-91% by 2050 (compared to 1990 levels). Space heating and cooling, water heating and cooking are the major energy consumers in this sector, with lighting and electrical appliances accounting for much of the remaining energy use.

Ike van der Putte (RPS Netherlands, representing FIDIC) has served in the UNEP SBCI board since 2006 and was president in 2008 and 2009. He is now active in UNEP SBCI’s advocacy committee and involved in initiating and supporting events.

One of the latest achievements of UNEP SBCI is the development and launch of the Common Carbon Metric (CCM) –a ground-breaking new initiative to develop a common global language for measuring the carbon footprint of a building. The metric is the first proposed metric in the UNEP SBCI Sustainable Buildings Index, a framework to define building sustainability performance through ten core global performance indicators.

The CCM underwent a first phase of pilot testing in June-September 2010. Seven participants from Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia tested the tool at single-building level or at building stock level. The outcome of pilot implementations of the metric was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of using the metric to obtain baselines of energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from different types of buildings.

Participants agreed that although the CCM will need further refinement, it provides a common cornerstone for international policy making on climate change mitigation in the building sector.

Meanwhile, the International Standards Organization is to decide on a proposal for a new sustainable construction standard to measure the energy use and GHG emissions of buildings at the operation stage based on the UNEP SBCI’s Common Carbon Metric.

One recent event that Ike has initiated and supported is the recent expert workshop on energy efficiency and buildings with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the World Bank –organised on 14 March 2011 at the headquarters of UNFCCC in Bonn, Germany.

After months of collaborating, UNEP-SBCI pulled together an ambitious agenda dealing with the challenges faced by building energy efficiency projects in the CDM and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) programmes.

Discussions and presentations of experts covered building energy modelling, the Common Carbon Metric, as well as opportunities for building energy efficiency in the development of NAMAs. Program participants from Mexico, China and India will provide reports from the field, presenting the challenges they have faced and the successes achieved with the UNFCCC flexible mechanisms for buildings. 

Ike is also representing the European Federation of Consultancy Associations (EFCA) in the CEN TC 350 (European Committee for Standardization/Technical Committee – Sustainability of construction works) that was created in 2005 ‘to provide a method for the voluntary delivery of environmental information that supports the construction of sustainable works including new and existing buildings’.

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