Objective of the Initiative

To achieve its final objective of promoting a worldwide adoption of sustainable buildings and construction practices, SBCI is implementing a process in 4 steps.

SBCI UNEP STEP 1 - Provide a common platform for the stakeholders

SBCI provides a common platform to all buildings and construction stakeholders for addressing sustainability issues of global significance, especially climate change.

SBCI UNEP STEP 2 - Establish baselines

SBCI establishes globally acknowledged baselines based on the life cycle approach, with a first focus on energy efficiency and CO2 emissions.

SBCI UNEP STEP 3 - Develop tools and stategies

SBCI will develop tools and strategies for achieving a wide acceptance and adoption of sustainable building practices throughout the world.

SBCI UNEP STEP 4 - Implementation through pilot projects

SBCI promotes to key stakeholders the adoption of the above tools and strategies which will be evaluated through pilot projects.

Key definitions

What is a common platform ?

The Initiative do not only serve as a meeting point for stakeholders to jointly carry out activities supporting sustainable development. It also provides direct input to other initiatives, governments, and global bodies making recommendations and decisions affecting sustainable development in this sector, e.g. global initiatives for the finance and insurance sectors, or secretariats for multilateral environmental agreements.

What are baselines for sustainable buildings & construction practices ?

Several guidelines and recommendations do exist. However, in countries where there is recognized standard for sustainable buildings, these are of local/national character. Since the conditions for buildings vary greatly between countries, due to geographic, climatic, social and economic factors, it would be difficult to establish a global standard. Nevertheless, baselines for various aspects of a buildings performance do need to be established. These can then be used to develop national/regional standards or legislation. Such baselines may include energy efficiency, climate change impact, material use and efficiency, waste generation, water efficiency, ease of recycling, replacement and maintenance, integration with social systems, minimum considerations for fragile ecosystems, etc.

Why a first focus on energy efficiency and CO2 emissions ?

The SBCI focuses on issues that have an impact on a global scale and are often subject to multilateral environmental agreements. The built environment is globally responsible for about 40 % of global CO2 emissions. However, it has, so far, not been included in the work carried out under the international mechanisms which aim at addressing climate change, because no common measurement or baseline has been developed. Considering the impact the buildings and construction sector can have on the reduction of those greenhouse gas emissions, and the opportunities the development of such a baseline can offer the private sector, SBCI will aim at addressing the issue.


What is the life cycle approach ?

SBCI UNEP The life cycle approach estimates the accumulated environmental, social and economic impact of a building throughout its life span. This approach includes e.g. construction, refurbishment, renovation and final demolition, recycling or disposal of materials. The life cycle approach requires a long-term perspective, integrating the interests of all key stakeholders, as well as those of society at large. UNEP is promoting this approach through the UNEP Life Cycle Initiative.

For mor information, see the Life Cycle Initiative website.

What is meant by tools and strategies ?

Many tools promoting sustainable practices in the sector already exist. The SBCI will make the best use of these, rather than developing new ones. However, many of the available tools and strategies are of a voluntary nature and have in general not been able to create a wider uptake of sustainable buildings and construction practices. There is a clear need to complement existing tools and strategies with additional measures, to encourage a wider uptake. Such new tools and strategies may include a wide range of measures from policies, legislative and tax incentives, to education, training, information and technology transfer, to partnerships, economic incentives and recognition programmes.

What is meant by promote adoption of the above tools and strategies ?

Given the overall objective of the SBCI - to achieve a worldwide adoption of sustainable buildings and construction practices - it is essential that key decision makers in society are made aware of the SBCI recommendations, and that this awareness is then transformed into action. A key feature of the SBCI is to take recommendations into implementation. Promotion is carried out as a continuous activity, using all methods available to the SBCI and to the UNEP.