Global Companies Join with WBCSD to Further the Cause of Energy Self-sufficiency


The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, based in Geneva, Switzerland, recently announced that it is forming an alliance of leading global companies to determine how buildings can be designed and constructed so that they use no energy from external power grids, are carbon neutral and can be built and operated at fair market values.

The industry effort is led by United Technologies Corp., with headquarters in Hartford, Conn. and Paris-based Lafarge Group.

Buildings today account for 40% of energy consumption in developed countries, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is hoped that the effort will transform the way buildings are conceived, constructed, operated and dismantled. The goal is that by 2050 new buildings will consume zero net energy from external power supplies and produce zero net carbon dioxide emissions while being economically viable to construct and operate.

Constructing buildings that use no net energy from power grids will require a combination of onsite power generation and ultra-efficient building materials and equipment, suggest OECD officials.

The project will comprise three phases, each producing reports that together will form a roadmap to transform the building industry. The first report will document existing green building successes and setbacks, the second will identify the full range of present and future opportunities, and the third will present a unified industry strategy for realizing those opportunities by 2050, specifically in China, India, Brazil, the U.S. and the E.U.

Each report will take one year to complete and involve hearings and conferences with building contractors and suppliers, sustainability experts, government representatives, regulators, utility officials and others.

"Buildings of tomorrow should be self-sufficient in energy and have carbon neutral emissions," said Jan van Dokkum, president of UTC Power, a United Technologies company. "This can be done by incorporating renewable energy sources into a building's design, optimizing energy efficiency of support systems, and taking advantage of geographic and culturally acceptable building practices. Additionally, this aim is enhanced by using the 'cradle to cradle' concept of producing, using and later re-using building materials. This vision of energy and carbon neutral designs is a necessary evolution we need to embrace to achieve sustainability for buildings."

Bjorn Stigson, president of the WBCSD noted that "being smarter and more efficient about how we use energy in buildings will help us conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. We believe this initiative can provide extremely cost-effective solutions. It will also set the course for self-sufficient and environmentally sound buildings in which future generations will live, work and be entertained. Our partners are industry leaders with technological expertise and presence that no single existing organization or government could provide on its own."

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