If you build it: the value-chain approach and its application to the construction sector
Last week, the One Planet network hosted the webinar “If you build it: How governments, financing and territorial planning influence the construction value chain”. This interactive discussion followed the release of the report “Catalysing science-based policy action on sustainable consumption and production: the value-chain approach and its application to food, construction and textiles" by the One Planet network - International Resource Panel Task Group, and illustrated some of the main messages from the report through real-world examples from across the One Planet network.
The webinar also served to introduce a series of consultations which will culminate in defining a common agenda for action in the construction sector.
The first phase of the construction sector consultations will begin in early July, in order to identify and bring together existing innovative business and policy solutions across the stages of the construction value chain.
Introduced and moderated by Mr. Jesús Maria Alquézar Sabadie, Socio-economic Analyst at the European Commission, the webinar first presented the main findings of the value-chain approach in the construction sector before going more in-depth into the role and impact of different actors along the value chain.
The analysis identifies that the majority of natural resource use and environmental impacts occur at the manufacturing of construction material, the construction and the operation stages of the value chain, where several limitations such as the informality and fragmentation of the actors at these stages inhibit sustainability.
However, key decisions influencing what type of construction is built and where, how much and how we build are made elsewhere, shaping activity along the rest of the value chain. The three presentations highlighted how governments, as regulators, investors, and planners, have an important role in bringing more sustainable practices into the value chain.
Ms. Christina Cheong, Green Cities Specialist at the Global Green Growth Institute highlighted how governments, by providing leadership, set clear rules for operation and through their enforcement, play a critical role.
“The role of governments is critical in implementing sustainability into the entire life cycle of buildings and the value chain” she stressed, explaining how governments must set sustainability targets in the construction sector and provide tools and processes to achieve these.
Mr. Zsolt Toth, Senior Project Manager at the Buildings Performance Institute Europe presented the recent shift in Europe towards a focus not only on energy efficiency of finished buildings, but also the embodied carbon present in the materials used, focusing on the role of governments as purchasers.
“It is very important to look at the triggers and intervention points, as most of the emissions happen very early in the lifespan of buildings”, Mr. Toth explained. “When many of the cost-effective measures to reduce operational energy use and related emissions have been adopted already, adopting lifecycle approaches can provide the basis for better allocation of both environmental and financial resources.”
Finally, Mr. Manuel Lascarro, Executive Director of the Ibero-American Federation of Ready-Mix Concrete and CEO of the Colombian Chamber of Cement and Concrete PROCEMCO, presented the Latin American perspective and focused on the role of governments as territorial and urban planners.
Highlighting how 50% of construction in Latin America is done by the informal sector, which severely hampers sustainability goals, he stressed how “responsible sourcing certifications can help both public and private stakeholders to build more sustainably”.
“Informality in construction materials must be addressed immediately because it produces a huge impact in natural resource extraction and greenhouse gas emissions”, he explained.
The webinar set the stage for the upcoming construction value chain consultations taking place in the form of three expert workshops, each focusing on different stages of the value chain.