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Energy Efficiency - a Lasting Legacy T he building sector's supersized global footprint is difficult to ignore. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the InternationalEnergy Agency (IEA), and others estimate that buildings consume between 30 and 40 per cent of global energy, and are responsible for approximately a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. In some developed nations, these numbers are even higher. In the United Kingdom, for instance, buildings are responsible for over 50 per cent of energy use.What is more, the building sector consumes around three billion tons of raw materials annually, roughly 40-50 per cent of global resource consumption. The built environment is also responsible for around 20 per cent of the world's water consumption.Yet hidden beneath these alarming statistics exists a real opportunity for dramatic change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that, of all sectors, buildings offer the largest potential to reduce emissions - and at the least cost. In fact, by deploying readily-available energy efficiency measures and technologies, we can begin reducing emissions in residential and commercial building sectors now and achieve cuts in the range of 30 per cent below business-as-usual by 2020, at no net cost.Science tells us that we must keep global temperatures from rising above the 2°C threshold, or below. And yet, it is clear from the negotiations in Durban last December, that the threat of climate change is not enough for most people to act. Other priorities, such as dealing with poverty, housing affordability and job creation, are much higher on the list. " The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that, of all sectors, buildings offer the largest potential to reduce emissions "Jane Henley, Chief Executive Officer, World Green Building Council (WGBC)However, tackled the right way, climate change adaptation projects, such as green buildings, can reduce carbon emissions and at the same time deliver on those pressing priorities. While carbon reduction is not the primary driver to act, it is a consequence of a long-term, sustainable economic plan.In this context, governments and businesses in wealthy nations should begin turning to green, low-carbon buildings as critical complementary measures to achieve deeper cuts. At the same time, growing economies should employ green building strategies as a central part of sustainable development pathways and efficient energy use.BUILDING THE GREEN ECONOMYGreen building policies have the potential to support massive job growth. UNEP has found that investments in energy efficiency measures in buildings could generate 3.5 million green jobs in Europe and the United States alone. The Natural Resources Defence Council has calculated that five direct jobs and five indirect jobs could be created for every US$1 million invested in energy efficiency retrofits in the US, and similar job numbers support large-scale retrofit efforts in Australia and the UK. In addition to direct utility savings and job creation, green buildings have been shown to improve the health and wellbeing of occupants, enhance productivity, reduce staff turnover, reduce patient hospitalisation time, and even enhance student achievement in green schools. Both the direct and indirect cost savings of integrated green building strategies are real and significant. Pictured Below: Jane HenleyRight: The Los Silos project102 smart cities

" governments and businesses in wealthy nations should begin turning to green, low-carbon buildings as critical complementary measures to achieve deeper cuts "EMPOWERING COMMUNITIESSustainable housing programmes, in many cases using carbon market tools such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) or as part of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), illustrate how green building practices are smart economic choices that can reduce poverty and protect the environment.In Mexico, more than 8.9 million people currently live without adequate housing. On the outskirts of Tlajomulco, Mexico lies the Los Silos project, one example of the government's efforts to address this problem while also honouring Mexico's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Los Silos consists of 6,000 sustainable, affordable homes of the highest quality for low-income families. The world's first national sustainable housing programme qualifying for the CDM, Los Silos features a range of energy-efficient technologies. Greenhouse gas emissions are tracked and recorded, and credits are then traded on the international market. GREEN STREETAs part of the World Green Building Council's participation in the UN COP-17 climate change summit in Durban last year, we collaborated with the Green Building Council of South Africa to retrofit an entire street with green building technologies. The COP-17 legacy project involves thirty low income homes in a street in Cato Manor, Durban, which have undergone a green refurbishment to demonstrate the range of possible social, economic and environmental benefits. Each house was retrofitted with a solar water heater, efficient lighting and a heat-insulation cooker. Roof insulation now regulates temperatures in the homes to ensure they are cooler in summer and warmer in winter, while the new rainwater harvesting systems will enable better water and food security. The local electricity provider, Eskom, installed energy-saving LED street lighting, and has established historical baselines for electricity consumption. Similarly, temperature and humidity recorders will help the project team to evaluate the energy and dollars saved by the retrofit project. The residents have chosen to name the street "Isimosezulu COP17 Place". Isimosezulu means "climate", and will ensure COP-17 has a lasting legacy for the people of Cato Manor.MOVING FORWARDThese three diverse projects demonstrate why thinking in terms of sustainable building is fundamental to every type and size of building or urban project happening all over the world today. We can no longer build only for shelter. We must acknowledge that our buildings shape our communities and are at the very foundations of our economies. For more information please see: nAbout the AuthorJane Henley is the Chief Executive Officer of the World Green Building Council, a role she assumed in February 2010. Previously, she was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Green Building Council, which she helped establish in 2005. She has also been on the boards of the WorldGBC and NZGBC. Ms Henley is a recent past director of the United Nations Sustainable Building Climate Initiative board, an active speaker and is passionate about business leading change. She can be contacted by e-mail at: smart cities 103