Sunday, June 05, 2016

Make Building Standards Top Priority for Tackling Climate Change, Says IEA Chief

A poorly built residential block marked for demolition in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya. Many other shoddy buildings face demolition after a six-storied structure collapsed recently killing 51 people. (Photograph Credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) Click to enlarge.
Buildings currently being constructed at an increasing rate in developing countries are locking the world into high greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come, the world’s leading authority on energy has warned.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told the Guardian that the world’s number one priority in tackling climate change must be to ensure those buildings meet higher standards of efficiency and safety.

“This would be the single most important step I want governments to take, and they can take it tomorrow,” he said.  Politicians could enact higher standards in regulations immediately, though ensuring they are always enforced might take a little longer and involve cooperation between different authorities.

“There are many economic benefits to mandating standards, and this can be done by governments very easily,” said Birol.  “They would have positive effects on growth, improve the conditions of the population [including their safety] and to do it they just need to make different government departments work together.”

In the developing world, and even some richer countries, building standards are often lax and frequently ignored.  This has led to tragedies such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factories in Bangladesh in 2013, which killed more than 1,100 people and injured thousands more.  Just weeks ago, more than 50 people died as an illegal apartment building in Nairobi fell down.

If higher standards were enforced, not only would people benefit from greater reassurances against such needless disasters, but the buildings would use less energy and this giant source of carbon emissions would be vastly reduced, according to the IEA. Better windows, more efficient air conditioning systems, thicker walls and higher quality of materials and design would all result in efficiency savings, and make life healthier and more pleasant for the buildings’ occupants.

Birol also highlighted the need to reduce emissions from transport around the world, calling for far greater investments in electric vehicles and public transport, particularly in developing countries.

Read more at Make Building Standards Top Priority for Tackling Climate Change, Says IEA Chief

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