Empowering Sustainable Construction with Strategies for a Green and Resilient Future
DENVER, Nov. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Build Change, a leading social innovator dedicated to resilient housing solutions, announces the release of its pivotal 2023 report, "Saving Embodied Carbon Through Strengthening Existing Housing." Timed strategically ahead of the United Nations COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates, this report presents compelling evidence of the carbon-saving potential of retrofitting existing housing to withstand disaster, and highlights preventative upgrades as a dual solution for both climate adaptation and mitigation.
- Upgrading vulnerable housing uses only 32% of the embodied carbon that new construction requires, resulting in substantial emissions savings.
- Each structural retrofit saves an average of 18 metric tons of CO2, roughly equivalent to 18 economy London to New York flights, three years of natural gas heating, a year of car emissions from four people, or over 1,000 servings of beef.
- Retrofitting an existing home remains significantly more carbon-efficient than building a new one. Strengthening an existing single story home and adding a second story is also more carbon efficient than building a new single story home.
- Strengthening a home before a disaster yields embodied carbon savings of up to 61% when compared to repairing and retrofitting after the home is damaged by an earthquake or hurricane.
With UN-Habitat projecting a daily demand for 96,000 new housing units to accommodate 40% of the world's population by 2030, the report emphasizes the importance of improving existing units, particularly in regions prone to natural hazards like earthquakes and climate extremes. Findings show that not only do preventive upgrades provide climate resilient housing to vulnerable populations, but also act as a tool for climate mitigation. Notably, the report states that post-disaster home improvements require more materials for repairs, therefore the embodied carbon savings from a preventative upgrade is around 61% higher compared to a post-disaster upgrade. Furthermore, the report highlights the shift towards climate-friendly building practices, and addresses the issue that the lifespan associated with informal housing is often unsustainable or economical as structures are damaged beyond repair after a hazard, requiring new building materials.
A Global Perspective
The report is a culmination of rigorous analysis based on a first-of-its-kind international dataset spanning six countries: Haiti, Nepal, the Philippines, Sint Maarten, Honduras, and Colombia. Most notably, the assessment of embodied carbon uses data from actual homes in the Global South, where historically Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) have been limited. The report's culmination of case studies, ranging from post-earthquake interventions in Haiti to climate adaptation efforts in Honduras, offer practical insights into the potential for structural retrofitting as a multifaceted solution that addresses both resilience and sustainability.
As the global community converges at the COP28 climate conference in the United Arab Emirates, this report issues a compelling call to action for policymakers, engineers, and homeowners alike. Embracing a "retrofit first approach" in city and sector road maps offers undeniable economic and environmental advantages, propelling sustainable housing, mitigating climate risks, and advancing us towards both a resilient and net-zero future.
Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, Founder and CEO of Build Change, remarks, "This report unveils the transformative potential of retrofitting vulnerable housing, demonstrating its capacity to significantly curtail carbon emissions while fortifying the structural integrity of buildings. It beckons us to embark on a collective journey towards a future where sustainability and climate resilience are harmoniously intertwined, reaffirming the enduring power of purposeful action."
Support for the report's findings has come from across the environmental and building sector, including Saint-Gobain, a worldwide leader in light and sustainable construction. Its Vice President for Sustainable Development, Emmanuel Normant, comments: "To comprehensively address both climate change mitigation and building resilience, especially in vulnerable regions, retrofitting existing building stock emerges as a highly efficient solution. It significantly lowers energy consumption, preserves natural resources, and reduces CO2 emissions, all while improving safety, health, and well-being for homeowners."
To access the full report and delve into specific findings and case studies, please visit https://embodiedcarbon.climateresilienthousing.org/
ABOUT BUILD CHANGE
1.6 billion people around the world live in substandard housing, lacking basic infrastructure or disaster resiliency. Build Change is transforming the systems for regulating, financing, building, and improving such houses around the world.
Build Change's engineers, builders, coders, policy advocates, and lending partners are providing urgently needed housing solutions in the world's most disaster-prone countries. Since 2004, we have safeguarded more than $4B in housing infrastructure assets, while building new or retrofitting more than 200,000 buildings and improving the safety and security of over 1 million people across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia Pacific.
For more information, visit https://buildchange.org/.
Savannah Mather, Blue Practice, 1 2039935373, [email protected]
SOURCE Blue Practice