Targeting net-zero construction

Learn about targeting net-zero construction from World Green Building Council CEO Cristina Gamboa, Autodesk Platform Sustainability Strategy Lead Ron Locklin, and One Click LCA CEO and Founder Panu Pasanen.

Targeting net-zero construction

Achieving net-zero emissions is becoming a central goal for leading global construction companies — with sustainability being a key market differentiator. In this article, learn from industry leaders Cristina Gamboa of the World Green Building Council, Ron Locklin of Autodesk, and Panu Pasanen of One Click LCA sharing insights on why companies are targeting net-zero construction, how they can implement these strategies, and why focusing solely on carbon can be limiting.

Why do companies target zero?

According to Cristina, targeting net-zero emissions in construction is essential not only for environmental sustainability but also for economic competitiveness. The built environment is responsible for 37% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing this is critical, as the sector represents a significant portion of the global economy and employment. Companies that embrace net-zero targets position themselves as future-proof and more competitive in a market increasingly driven by sustainability.

Panu adds that sustainability offers a crucial differentiation point in the market. Unlike traditional factors, sustainability can continuously be improved, providing a unique competitive edge. Moreover, financial risks associated with non-compliance to net-zero standards, such as potential write-downs of non-compliant assets, underscore the importance of this shift.

Ron highlights that beyond financial incentives, there is a moral imperative driving companies towards net-zero. The modern workforce, especially younger employees, increasingly demands that their employers prioritize sustainability, making it a critical factor for attracting and retaining top talent.

How can companies implement this in practice?

Here, Ron emphasizes that leveraging existing tools and technologies is crucial for implementing net-zero strategies. Autodesk’s suite of tools, such as Revit and Insight, allows for detailed energy calculations and carbon tracking throughout the design and construction phases. He stresses the importance of starting early in the design process to maximize impact.

Then, Panu outlines a practical approach that involves incorporating sustainability into core business processes. This includes setting clear targets for carbon reduction, holding partners accountable, and prioritizing dematerialization. Pasanen also mentions tools like One Click LCA’s Materials Compass, which helps professionals identify and select sustainable materials.

Cristina points to the importance of inspiration and education. By showcasing examples of companies that have successfully committed to net-zero, others can be inspired to follow suit. She highlights the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, which provides case studies and practical guidance for companies aiming to decarbonize by 2030.

Why Is carbon not enough? What is carbon tunnel vision?

Panu introduces the concept of "carbon tunnel vision," which refers to an overly narrow focus on carbon emissions to the exclusion of other critical environmental factors. While carbon is a significant environmental pressure, other factors like ecosystem degradation, resource scarcity, and resilience are equally important. Addressing these comprehensively ensures a more holistic approach to sustainability.

Next, Ron expands on this by emphasizing health, resilience, and prosperity as critical dimensions beyond carbon. Sustainable practices must ensure that buildings and environments are not only low-carbon but also healthy, safe, and conducive to long-term prosperity.

Finally, Cristina stresses the need for a balanced approach that includes the restoration and regeneration of nature. She notes that urbanization significantly impacts planetary boundaries, and the built environment must shift from being extractive to regenerative. This involves integrating nature-based solutions and ensuring that buildings contribute to overall environmental health.

Sustainability priorities in construction

Here, Ron identifies several key priorities for sustainability in construction: reducing the carbon footprint of materials like concrete and asphalt, minimizing waste, and embracing circularity. These efforts are essential for transforming construction into a cleaner and more sustainable industry.

Panu highlights the importance of starting sustainability efforts early in the design process and considering options like modular construction and the reuse of materials. He also emphasizes the need for practical design solutions that allow for the reuse of materials across multiple lifetimes.

Last, Cristina adds that facility management and the integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures are crucial. She also stresses the importance of addressing equity and ensuring that sustainable building practices benefit all communities, particularly those in developing regions.

Overall, the shift towards net-zero construction is driven by a combination of economic, environmental, and social factors. By leveraging existing tools, setting clear targets, and adopting a holistic approach to sustainability, companies can lead the way in creating a resilient and regenerative built environment.

How One Click LCA can help your business achieve net zero

One Click LCA is the world’s leading end-to-end sustainability software platform for construction and related manufacturing — with easy-to-use, automated life-cycle assessment and environmental product declaration solutions, among others. Used in 170+ countries, including blue-chip enterprises such as Skanska, AECOM, WSP, Foster+Partners, LafargeHolcim and Saint Gobain. One Click LCA’s software helps you comply with 80+ global standards, integrate with 20+ BIM and other softwares, and access the largest global building materials database of 250,000+ LCA datasets. One Click LCA is powering the makers of a zero-carbon future by making projects and products more sustainable.


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