Sustainable Building

It’s been estimated that the buildings in which we live and work every day account for around 40% of the world’s energy usage. Clearly, any country that wants to get serious about sustainability has got to look at the role its built environment is playing in its overall infrastructure and the impact it will have on future energy needs.

EMG recently caught up with Jane Henley, CEO of the World Green Building Council (WGBC), while she was in Dubai for a green building conference. We wanted to find out more about the latest progress the WGBC has been making towards improving the sustainability of the global built environment, how it is working towards creating Smart Cities around the world and what the challenges still are for the future – from the phase-out of hazardous materials and PVC to energy-efficiency and water use.

Sustainable cities: What can you tell us about the WGBC’s role in this, and what is the outlook for the future?

One very exciting thing that we are focusing on at the moment is the partnership we have just signed with the C40 which is part of the Clinton Climate Initiative. This is a partnership between the 40 biggest cities around the world to become more sustainable. We are working with them to create a support system for cities to be able to implement progressive green building policies that meet their visions for sustainable cities.

It’s actually now been expanded to 58 cities, but the term C40 is meant to focus on the 40 biggest. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is the current chair, leading the C40 with a steering committee and the executive leadership team.

Being involved with cities shows how our industry has matured. We’ve made great progress focusing on one building at a time, but cities don’t work like that. Cities are complex, and understanding that integrating thinking between buildings, infrastructure, housing, retail, recreation and so on is how we make truly great cities. We are looking at how people are connected, how buildings are connected, where people live as compared to where they work and how they get to places. All of this together determines the quality of life.

For us, this is about expanding our network and influence so that we are not just focusing on one building at a time. This partnership is an opportunity to work with cities all around the world to integrate our knowledge into the bigger picture, so it’s quite an exciting time for us.