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The impact of the built environment and why we need to act now

The World Green Building Council has launched its ‘Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere’ strategy, which explores challenges and solutions around a number of issues, including global warming, health and wellbeing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Green Building Councils from around the globe have joined forces to launch the Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere strategy. The 70 Councils, which represent 36,000 members, including support from Saint-Gobain, will use climate science and Global Goals of Sustainable Development (SDGs) to explore challenges around a number of issues, including global warming, health and wellbeing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The impact of the built environment and why we need to act now

The WorldGBC’s actions acknowledge the role and impact of the built environment. It’s estimated that by 2050 the global population will increase to 9.8 billion people – that’s an increase of 27% - and it’s thought the world’s building stock will double. Buildings are currently responsible for almost 40% of global carbon emissions and 50% of global material use.

But as well as the impact the sector has on the environment and resources, we also need to consider the quality of the buildings we’re designing and constructing. The report considers the quality of the indoor environment in fighting infectious disease transmission, bearing in mind that people spend 90% of their time indoors. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have never spent so much time at home and this period of time has emphasised the need for quality living spaces and surrounding areas. The impact of COVID-19 on our way of living and our broader health and wellbeing is an issue we’ve already begun to explore at, so we welcome this collaborative and comprehensive review of the role of the global pandemic further.


Sustainable building


As explained by WorldGBC CEO, Cristina Gamboa: “The COVID-19 pandemic brings the interface between the impact of the built environment and people’s wellbeing into focus. The urgency to adapt faster, support the most vulnerable and embrace deep sustainability is greater than ever. We must act now — together — to save our communities from the climate emergency, biodiversity crisis and escalating environmental degradation.

“Our ambition must be deeply rooted in sustainability. We must aim for nothing less than a genuine balance between the economy, society and the environment. This level of commitment will unlock our shared vision for healthy, net zero, resilient, sustainable and equitable built environments in every geography around the world.”

Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere

The WorldGBC’s new strategy includes three ‘North Star Goals’:

  • Climate Action: Total decarbonisation of the built environment
  • Health and Wellbeing: A built environment that delivers healthy, equitable and resilient buildings, communities and cities.
  • Resources and Circularity: A built environment that supports the regeneration of resources and natural systems, providing socio-economic benefit through a thriving circular economy.

To reach these goals, the network has outlined key milestones for 2030 and 2050 and seven impact pathways, which include collaboration, communication, education, investment and innovation.

These goals and detailed approach to achieving them can be read in the Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere report.

Aligning with the Multi Comfort approach

As a supporter of the WorldGBC strategy, Emmanuel Normant, VP Sustainable Development, Saint-Gobain, said:

I welcome the launch of the renewed WorldGBC strategy, Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere… This document, that is very aligned to Saint-Gobain’s approach, will be a key milestone to shape the buildings of tomorrow. Its North Star Goals will become a reality with significant training and information, voluntary commitments along the value chain and proactive advocacy towards policymakers.


Overall the report and its recommendations further support our Multi Comfort approach, recognising why it’s essential that we design and construct our homes, offices, schools and other buildings in a more sustainable way that also promotes improved thermal, acoustic, visual and indoor air comfort for those using them.

From the resources needed to build more properties, to the impact that our homes have on our wellbeing, there is a lot to consider to make sure that we’re meeting construction demands while reducing the impact on the environment but maximising the benefits for people, society and the economy. The launch of the Sustainable Buildings for Everyone, Everywhere strategy should be welcome news for the whole industry as we strive to improve the built environment. 


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