Author | Tania Alonso It is estimated that 60% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have not been built yet. And that, when built, the equivalent of a city the size of New York will have been built each month, from today until that date.Building homes for a continuously growing population involves many challenges. One of those that are most concerning is the environmental aspect: buildings account for around half the total carbon dioxide emissions of numerous cities. Their construction, maintenance and use involve very high and practically constant costs for energy and materials.A trend that is not decreasingIn 2018, the UN had good news: the emissions generated by buildings and their construction seemed to have reached their maximum level. They had stabilised thanks to improved energy solutions for heating and lighting, for example, and the use of cleaner energies in households and offices.However, the 2019 figures reversed this news. Global building-related emissions had increased again, according to the report ‘2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction’, conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the United Nations Environment Programme.The increase was just 2%. But this is a very significant increase in environmental terms: buildings and construction account for around 39% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions related to energy. Many are caused by the production of materials and construction products such as steel, cement and glass. In turn, power generation overall generates 40% of all emissions worldwide.The problem of not being able to reduce the emission of polluting gases intensifies if we take into account the short-term future prospects. Because, according to the UN Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, energy demand in this sector could increase by 50% by 2060.
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