McKinsey launches Net Zero Built Environment Council to decarbonise the built world

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Alliance of industry leaders from the built environment set to collaborate to accelerate race to net zero.

McKinsey has announced the launch of a Net Zero Built Environment Council, a cross-sector coalition of industry stakeholders to collaboratively create new pathways to cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

The lifecycle of buildings is responsible for approximately 40% of global CO₂ emissions, making the built environment among the highest GHG emitters, above electricity production, shipping, and aviation. The new council will bring together stakeholders across the built environment value chain, from industry leaders to scale-ups, to stimulate investment, deployment, and scaling of new materials and technologies that will help reduce emissions at all stages of the building lifecycle.

The launch of the council will support stakeholders to create and commercialise new green innovations, create global sustainability metrics and research and promote cost-effective pathways to decarbonising everything from construction methods to materials. It aims to align siloed supply chains, construction projects and markets, and help industry players to tap into an estimated $800bn to $1,900bn in potential green markets.

The launch of the Net Zero Built Environment Council comes alongside the release of a new McKinsey report, Accelerating green growth in the built environment, that identifies a lack of collaboration within the built environment ecosystem as a key obstacle to decarbonisation.

McKinsey’s research finds that 76% of emissions from an average building are caused by operations, demonstrating a need for collaborative decarbonization across the entire built environment lifecycle, not just during construction. The report found that half of all emissions across the built environment could be eliminated with little extra cost, while 20% will be more costly and complex to decarbonise, such as cement and steel, requiring more industry partnerships to reduce costs and risks for all new materials and technologies.

Brodie Boland, partner at McKinsey, said: “Reducing lifecycle emissions will require collaborations and partnerships across industries to cost-efficiently build and scale new innovations from green cement to hydrogen boilers. Yet the built environment is currently a fragmented landscape of separate localised markets, suppliers and building codes as well as disjointed construction processes with unequal accountability.

“With net zero requiring a threefold increase in the pace of decarbonisation, the new council aims to unite all key players to accelerate decarbonisation by collectively transforming the way we design, build, operate and decommission buildings.”

Erik Sjödin, partner at McKinsey, added: “Many green building innovations are already cheaper and widely available, such as optimising designs to reduce demand for raw materials, yet there is a lack of transparency around all these levers and how to scale them quickly and cost-efficiently. There is also a lack of transparent, trustworthy data on comparative climate performance across the value chain to help spur sustainable investment. The council will help map out new pathways to net zero and create clear, consistent metrics for green investors, insurers, and customers.”

To help catalyse these changes, the Net Zero Built Environment Council aims to:

Map out transparent net zero pathways – Research and promote the most quick and cost-effective pathways to decarbonisation of the built world from equipment electrification to low-carbon material substitutes.

Spread awareness on what is doable – Lower barriers to decarbonisation, capture the interest of decision-makers and spur positive pressure to accelerate climate action.

Create cross-sector partnerships – Cross-sector climate partnerships to share resources and collectively commercialise green technologies at global scale or form lighthouse projects.

Click here to read McKinsey’s findings in detail.