Greener Buildings for Everyone
Across the world, evidence is growing that green buildings bring multiple benefits. They can help us to tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, help create sustainable communities and drive economic growth. On occasion of the World Green Building Week CORPUS spoke with James Drinkwater, Director of the World Green Building Council’s Europe Regional Network.
Buildings are at the centre of our everyday life and it is important to think how we construct and operate them for a sustainable future. To raise awareness about the impact buildings have on people and the environment is at the core of the World Green Building Council’s work. It’s also what we spoke about with James Drinkwater who leads the organisation’s Europe Regional Network – a community of over 20 national Green Building Councils, 8 Regional Partners, and over 4,500 members from across the buildings sector.
CORPUS: Can you tell us how the WorldGBC came about and how would you define your objectives?
JAMES DRINKWATER: In 1993, the first GBC was founded in the US, bringing together all actors across the construction value chain to promote a sustainable built environment. Today, there are over 70 GBCs worldwide with a global membership of nearly 50,000 organisations. Our core goals are limiting global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius, reducing the building and construction sector’s CO2 emissions by 84 gigatonnes as well as ensuring all buildings are net zero emissions. More widely our global strategy is focused on radically reducing resource and water use.
CORPUS: Could you comment on the success of your institution? What have you accomplished so far?
JAMES DRINKWATER: The publication of a series of highly influential reports such as The Business Case for Green Building, helped drive global debate on sustainable buildings. Our flagship Advancing Net Zero project aims to promote and support the acceleration of net zero carbon buildings to100% in 2050. We announced a major milestone at the recent Global Climate Action Summit, when several leading global corporates, major cities, as well as states and regions committed to achieve this goal in their own building stock. In Europe we’ve focused on how to spark a building renovation revolution to help hit the EU’s climate goals, advising governments through our Build Upon project.
CORPUS: In September the World Green Building Week is celebrated. What are your objectives with this campaign?
JAMES DRINKWATER: The WGBW is an annual event that motivates and empowers us all to deliver greener buildings. It’s a chance for us to speak with one voice and host a global debate. This year, we want everyone, everywhere to take action and commit to making a change in the homes they build, lease or live in. We can all do something to make our home greener, healthier and more energy efficient. Last year the campaign reached millions of people on social media, raising awareness of the importance of green buildings.
When cities like London, New York and Tokyo commit [to the zero carbon buildings goal], the world takes notice and starts to follow.
CORPUS: How can BASF further inspire and support the agenda of the GBC?
JAMES DRINKWATER: BASF has been a fantastic partner to WorldGBC’s work in Europe. The advice and advocacy of corporate sustainability leaders like BASF is critical to ensure the solutions the GBC network propose are fit for the market and scalable.
CORPUS: Mr. Drinkwater, thank you for the interview.
Biography in brief
James Drinkwater leads the work of WorldGBC’s Europe Regional Network. As well as coordinating the network’s projects and advocacy work, he advises on EU and global green building projects such as UNEP’s 10 Year Framework Programme, UNFCCC Technical Expert Meetings and the EU’s Resource Efficient Buildings Project. Before WorldGBC James was an energy and environmental lawyer specialising in finance and M&A.