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Sustainable architecture

Challenges and opportunities in developing countries

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Buildings and cities are at the heart of sustainability issues. Urban areas only cover 4% of the earth’s surface but represent more than half of the world’s population and are source to three quarters of our natural resources consumption, 60 to 80% of the world’s energy demand and 75% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Some cities have annual water consumption rates equivalent to more than 80% of their resources, a rate well beyond the 40% sustainability threshold set by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Scaling down to buildings, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in its fifth and last global assessment report, published in 2014-2015, that these account for 32% of global energy demand (with two third coming from the domestic sector), and 51% of the world’s electricity consumption. The related greenhouse gas emissions were estimated at 9.18 GtCO2 in 2010 (a fifth of total emissions), a number that could double or triple by 2050 in a business as usual scenario.

This note is a reflection on sustainable architecture in developing countries, presenting the challenges they face, as well as the opportunities to move toward sustainability. This note is a Working document by ENERGIES 2050 prepared within the frame of the Sustainable architecture roundtable held May 31st 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria, Organised by L’Institut Français and Green Habitat Nigeria.


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