Green initiative

25 April 2008

World: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched the Sustainable Building and Construction Initiative (SBCI) in an effort to “green” the world's construction industry.

Contractors including Lafarge and Skanska, and steel producer Arcelor are among the founding members of the SBCI, which aims to promote environmentally friendly practices throughout the industry.

Speaking at the SBCI launch in Paris in February, Monique Barbut, Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) said, “The construction and use of buildings generate substantial social and economic benefits to society, but may also have serious negative impacts on the environment.

“One key area of concern is the large share of energy use, with associated greenhouse gas emissions, that the built environment accounts for. In some countries the built environment is responsible for up to 40% of total energy use.”

The UN hopes the SBCI will ensure buildings are designed, constructed and maintained from an environmentally sustainable point of view over their entire life cycle. Other goals include the inclusion of “sustainability considerations and requirements” in legislation and building standards.

Ms Barbut said the industry seriously affects many of the world's most pressing environmental issues such as climate change, waste generation and depletion of natural resources. “The overall objective of the SBCI is to achieve worldwide adoption of sustainable building and construction practices that can help deal with such problems,” she said.

The UN estimates the construction industry employs over 100 million people worldwide and contributes about 10% of global GDP.

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