Hand holding soil and a plant growing

UN SDGs and Green Building: How to Achieve the SDGs Faster

Last modified on October 25th, 2021 at 10:44 am

What do UN sustainable development goals and green building have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Today, we learn how SDGs can be achieved faster with the help of green building. Let’s read on.

What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

First, let’s start from the beginning:

What are UN Sustainable Development Goals?

UN SDGs are a call for countries to protect the planet while promoting prosperity. SDGs combine social needs like education, job opportunities, and health with protecting the environment and tackling global warming.

They are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by UN members in 2015.

There are 17 sustainable development goals:

  • No poverty
  • Zero hunger
  • Good health and wellbeing
  • Quality education
  • Gender equality
  • Clean water and sanitation
  • Affordable and clean energy
  • Decent work and economic growth
  • Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  • Reduced inequalities
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Responsible consumption and production
  • Climate action
  • Life below water
  • Life on land
  • Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • Partnerships for the goals

But before we explore how UN Sustainable Development Goals and green building work together, let’s take a look at what green buildings are.

What is a green building?

Buildings and the construction industry are together responsible for 39% of the world’s CO2 emissions.

Some of these emissions can be reduced with the help of proper retrofitting. Considering that 80% of buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built, retrofitting is a key green building strategy. At the same time, urban areas are growing faster than ever. By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. It’s more important than ever that buildings are built in a sustainable way with little to no impact on the environment.

Why are green buildings more sustainable than their alternatives? Simple: They lower overall CO2 emissions and save resources like water and energy. In some cases, they are net-zero buildings, which means that they produce as much energy as they use.

Plus, green buildings are far better for human health. Poor indoor air quality is a major health hazard in the long and short term and it can even result in fatal illnesses like cancer or heart diseases. In the same way, noise pollution, a lack of proper lighting, and similar indoor health hazards impact people’s physical and mental health.

Green buildings, on the other hand, are designed to improve human health. For example, WELL certification ensures that your building is optimized for health and wellbeing.

Ultimately, green buildings make sense from a business perspective. They have higher rental prices and they command higher sales prices.

So, now you know what a green building is. Here’s how UN Sustainable Development Goals and green building work together.

How do UN Sustainable Development Goals and green building work together?

How can green buildings help achieve Sustainable Development Goals?

The thing is: Green buildings are at the core of the SDGs.

Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing

First, green buildings are healthy buildings. And as people spend about 85-95% of their time indoors, they are in a key position to enforce this SDG.

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

Construction has a huge impact on clean water and sanitation. The operation of buildings, including landscaping, accounts for around 12% of total water use in the US alone.

However, sustainable construction and green building best practices save resources like water. For example, proper plumbing and waste management can have a big impact on the accessibility of clean water.

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

According to the US Department of Energy, the building sector accounts for about 76% of electricity use. By 2030, different technologies could cut building energy use by more than 20%, but much higher savings are possible. Again, green buildings are at the forefront of achieving this SDG.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

Green building can boost economic growth, especially local economies, and provide jobs in many ways. In fact, construction tends to be a top contributor to any economy.

For example, small and medium-sized businesses are involved in every stage of a building’s life cycle and locally developed and manufactured green technologies and building materials can promote job growth.

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Construction and real estate are some of the world’s biggest industries. Green building can be a catalyst for innovation for decades to come, they are the future of sustainable living.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

Green buildings are key for sustainable cities and communities. This SDG helps to fight both climate change and prepare for rapid urban growth.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

Green buildings use circular principles, which means that resources aren’t wasted. Plus, green buildings are built to be resilient and last for decades.

Goal 13: Climate action

It’s clear that green buildings are a central part of tackling climate change. Ultimately, constructions and buildings are together some of the biggest producers of CO2 emissions.

Just take us at Alpin as an example. Our Energy Modeling services have already helped our clients save more than 100,000,000 Kilowatt-hours. That’s enough to power over 14,000 houses or save 44,000 tonnes of CO2.

Goal 15: Life on land

Green buildings can be used to protect forests, save water resources, and enhance biodiversity. After all, building materials determine how sustainable buildings are. With green building best practices, buildings use responsibly sourced materials, reduce the use of water, and respect the biodiversity and environment surrounding the building.

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

Green buildings help create strong and global partnerships to achieve SDGs. For example, the Global Alliance for Building and Construction is just one example of such a partnership.

Why should businesses invest in green buildings?

Ultimately, what’s the role of businesses in achieving the SDGs? Great question. One argument is that businesses have a moral responsibility to achieve these goals, as they earn money by using the world’s resources.

But not only that. It makes sense for businesses to take the SDGs seriously. After all, we all rely on available natural resources. Without them, businesses just can’t operate.

And with the right Corporate Social Responsibility strategies, organizations can increase brand awareness, achieve higher profitability, and lower their resource-based costs.

Our own Corporate Social Responsibility services align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Thanks to years of experience in helping companies exceed their CSR commitments and goals, we provide comprehensive consultancy services to ensure that our clients achieve their CSR targets in alignment with their operations and budgets.

Our CSR services include:

  • Carbon tracking
  • Impact assessments
  • Advisory services
  • GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards
  • GRESB Reporting
  • ISO Certification

Some of the exciting projects we’ve worked on include Dubai Expo 2020 where we worked to meet the guidelines of the US Green Building Council requirements and local standards, as well as a number of government infrastructure projects (ports, airports, and metro lines to name a few). We also work together with the Ministry of Energy & Infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates to support its sustainability Initiatives for the built environment.

Want to learn more?

There you have it. Now you know how UN Sustainable Development Goals and green building work together.

Want to learn more about how to implement these goals?

Get in touch with us to discuss how your organization can implement Corporate Social Responsibility to improve your brand value and achieve your CSR targets.