Our Director of Sustainability, Brett Phillips, is on his way to Paris for COP21, the U.N.-led climate talks, to participate in the panel Transforming the Urban Core: private/public partnerships. As the first week of climate negotiations have come to a close, two meaningful announcements were made that could have significant impact on the built environment.

On Sunday, Bill Gates announced the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a new, multi-billion dollar investment fund that aims to dramatically scale up research and development of carbon-free energy technologies. The Coalition provides a new model of public-private partnerships between governments, research institutions, and private investors to develop clean energy solutions as part of an ongoing global effort to stave off climate change.

If successful, such research could have far-reaching implications for the built environment, which accounts for over 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The cost and capabilities of existing building technologies will need to be continually improved to achieve scalable emissions reductions, and The Breakthrough Energy Coalition could be an accelerator to develop cost-effective energy technologies that we can deploy in our new and existing buildings and help us move toward sustainable, net-zero buildings. Read more about the Breakthrough Energy Coalition here.

COP21 also hosted the first-ever “Buildings Day” this week, where the world’s leading voices in the built environment announced the launch of the Global Alliance on Buildings and Construction (GABC). The alliance intends to expand the scale of climate change action by uniting countries, cities, and both public and private organizations in the construction and real estate industries to hold the world under the “2 degree threshold” of climate change. By raising awareness of progress and opportunities, facilitating new partnerships, sharing knowledge and funding, and offering implementation support, the GABC can mobilize otherwise recalcitrant industry players. As part of the launch, Architecture 2030 pledged to expand urban 2030 Districts as part of an ongoing decarbonization strategy for existing buildings.

The announcement verifies a real need for coordinated action on climate change in the built environment. Coming together under the Global Alliance enables the industry to establish common goals and distribute efficient, sustainable, and valuable solutions on an international scale.

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