Carbon-dioxide emissions from building construction and operations hit an all-time high in 2021, according to the most recent data, a sign that the push to decarbonize the industry by 2050 may be slipping out of reach.
Energy-related emissions from the operation of buildings reached 10 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, 5% higher than 2020 levels and 2% more than the pre-pandemic peak in 2019, according to data compiled by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Operational energy demand in buildings for heating, cooling, lighting and equipment rose about 4% from 2020 levels, the group said.
While investments in building energy efficiency increased 16% last year to $237 billion, the growth in floor space outpaced efficiency efforts. As a result, “the gap between the climate performance of the sector and the 2050 decarbonization pathway is widening,” the report concluded.