Network Overview

Forum Overview

The Clean Construction Forum supports cities in the transition to resource-efficient, zero-emission construction, which will also deliver healthier buildings and better air quality to millions of residents in cities around the world.

The Forum helps cities in their quest to achieve zero embodied emissions from buildings and infrastructure by 2050, with a focus on reducing emissions from construction materials and machinery.

By 2050, another 2.5 billion people are expected to live in urban areas, with close to 90% of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa (UN DESA, 2018). The need for buildings and infrastructure will intensify – by 2025 we will need to build 1 billion new homes. Globally, roughly 60% of buildings that will exist in 2050 are yet to be built. This means constructing a city the size of Stockholm or Milan (1.5 million people) per week until 2050, or a city the size of Singapore or New York every month until 2050.

Construction is one of the biggest contributors to the climate crisis globally, contributing more than 23% of the world's GHG emissions (Huang et al., 2017). The production of concrete and steel, the two most commonly used construction materials, play a significant role with concrete alone representing 7 to 8% of global GHG emissions (Chatham House Report, 2018). Construction materials and the building sector are also responsible for more than 30% of global resource consumption. Construction sites are responsible for significant air and noise pollution, linked to construction activities, the use of diesel machinery, lorry movements, and traffic congestion.

It is clear that the goals of the Paris Agreement cannot be reached without action on clean construction.

The research Building and Infrastructure Consumption Emissions, published by C40 Cities, Arup and University of Leeds during the C40 World Mayors Summit in October 2019, reveals changes to the construction industry could cut the emissions generated from buildings and infrastructure 44% by 2050. The report outlined the need for cities to address the emissions occurring outside their geographical boundaries due to the consumption of goods and services within the city, with construction activities being one of the largest sources of such emissions.

Clean Construction Focus Areas

The cities participating in the Clean Construction Forum are coming from diverse perspectives, reflecting the critical need for a comprehensive lifecycle approach as described in the graphic below.

On top of these lifecycle perspectives, the participating cities have prioritized the following focus areas around which they are actively sharing policies, strategies, ideas and challenges with one another. The focus areas are:

Engagement and inclusivity – Engaging the private sector in a constructive dialogue to ensure the market hears the demand signals and is prepared for zero emission construction policies. Engaging communities and residents effectively to ensure zero and low carbon buildings and infrastructure benefit all and not only a reserved elite.

Market development - Leveraging the collective purchasing power and political clout of C40 cities to develop a market for low emission construction materials and construction equipment.

Tools and data – Sharing experiences on available standards and tools used for assessing the environmental impact of materials and construction sites. Developing an understanding of the methods, data requirements, and processes taken when establishing city-wide targets, as well as the long-term challenges associated with data ownership, access, transparency and monitoring.

Benefits – Articulating the collateral benefits –reduced air and noise pollution, job creation, increased health and well-being – of clean construction policies.

The Clean Construction Forum is led by the City of Oslo.