Rethink how we build: How can we move towards a resource efficient and carbon neutral built environment globally?

Webinars: July 06 – 20, 2021

The building sector is undergoing a significant transformation globally. Over half of the buildings that will stand in 2060 have not been built yet. Especially in Africa and Asia, the number of new buildings will increase rapidly in the coming years. This fast growth presents a challenge to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Hence, what we build today has severe consequences for our future emissions. This forces the buildings and construction sector to rethink building materials and practices. One important aspect is embodied carbon, meaning the footprint of a material, in the built environment. It considers how many greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are released through the supply chain. Currently, around 104 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) mention specific climate actions in the buildings sector. However, only a very small number of NDCs address construction and embodied carbon linked with the manufacturing of materials like cement.

Against this background, the National Designated Entity (NDE) of Germany on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) hosted a series of web-conferences to showcase and jointly discuss solutions on how the building sector can rethink building materials, strengthen resource efficiency, encourage ambitious NDCs and foster the transfer of climate-friendly technologies to developing countries. Our international panel discussed:

  1. Embodied carbon: The blind spot of the building industry? (6 July)
  2. Sustainable building materials and recycling for a carbon neutral future (13 July)
  3. Policy environment for a rapid sustainable transformation of the building sector (20 July)

Renowned international speakers brought their distinctive views to the webinars to discuss global challenges and opportunities through short inputs and panel discussions. We were happy to welcome speakers from Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN), Wuppertal Institute, Buildings Performance Institute (BPIE), the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and more! As part of the discussion the following central questions were addressed:

  • What is embodied carbon and why is it important?
  • How can embodied carbon be integrated into NDCs?
  • What measures are available for substituting raw materials in the built environment?
  • How can cement and steel become zero carbon?
  • What examples of low carbon actions in the construction sector exist globally?

The recordings of the sessions and the presentations are available for download below.

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NDE Germany is one of 161 focal points that have been created in the framework of the Technology Mechanism of the UNFCCC to facilitate the introduction, use and transfer of climate-related technologies globally.

The views and opinions expressed in this webinar series do not necessarily reflect the position of the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy or the German government.

About the sessions

The three webinars are providing different angles on the topic: “Rethink how we build: How r can we move towards a resource efficient and carbon neutral built environment globally”. Each session is organised as a stand-alone webinar. You can decide whether to join one or several sessions below. Each session will be recorded and made available on this website for later use.

The first webinar of this series provides an introduction to the topic “embodied carbon”. It explains the concept of embodied carbon, its importance, how it can be measured and how it can be integrated into NDCs. The webinar also discusses the successful case of public procurement standards for buildings in Finland.

On the panel discussing mitigation potentials and circular economy approaches in the built environment will be Peter Graham from Global Buildings Performance Network (GBPN), Dirk Schwede from the University of Stuttgart, Marina Fecke from Wuppertal Institute and Ari Ilomäki from the Ministry of the Environment in Finland.

When? The session took place on Tuesday 6 July 2021 at 13 CEST.


GBPN_Peter Graham
University of Stuttgart_Dirk Schwede
Wuppertal Institute_Marina Fecke
Ministry of the Environment Finland_Ari Ilomäki

The second webinar discusses how the most important building materials, steel and concrete can become less emission-intensive, what other building materials are available and what role recycling plays.

Our panel discussing different low-carbon material options with a focus on their implementation in developing countries will include Mathias Höppner from Holcim Germany,, Jan Skocek from HeidelbergCement, Matthias Tietze from Carbon Concrete Composite e.V., Franc Kamugisha from Ecoplastile and Mateus Mendonca Oliveira from UK BEIS representing the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) Industrial deep decarbonization initiative (IDDI).

When? The session took place on Tuesday 13 July 2021.


IDDI_Mateus Mendonca Oliveira
C3_Carbon Concrete Composite_Matthias Tietze
Heidelberg Cement_Jan Skocek
Ecoplastile_Franc Kamugisha

The final webinar provides practical examples from the EU and developing countries how embodied carbon can be addressed by policy actions and NDCs in order to make the building sector climate neutral.

Our policy panel brings together Senta Schmatzberger from the Buildings Performance Institute (BPIE), Rose Mwebaza from the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and Christina Cheong from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) complemented by Will Hall from the UK COP26 Presidency presenting how building emissions are discussed on the road to Glasgow.

When? Join us on Tuesday 20 July 2021.


BPIE_Senta Schmatzberger
CTCN_Rose Mwebaza
GGGI_Christina Cheong 

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