World Green Building Council launches Air Quality in Built Environment campaign

The campaign aims to reduce air pollution from the built environment by advocating for green building solutions.

We spend 90% of our time indoors and it's estimated that 92% of the air in the places we live is unsafe to breathe. Sustainable buildings and cities are a key part of the solution to reducing both the health and environmental impacts of global air pollution. That’s why 30 Green Building Councils are participating in the World Green Building Council's Better Places for People global project to combat global air pollution from the built environment and launching the Air Quality in the Built Environment campaign. 

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition is partnering with the World Green Building Council on this campaign with the aim to increase awareness, develop understanding and kickstart actions from a global audience across the building and construction sector. 

Catriona Brady, Head of the Better Places for People project said: “This campaign is a major milestone to promote a healthier and more sustainable built environment.  We’re delighted to be working with so many green building councils and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to raise awareness of how green buildings are part of the solution.”

Helena Molin Valdés, Head of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition said: "Our homes and buildings should be safe places for work, socializing, and raising our families but in many places around the world this is not the case.7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution, at least half of them from indoor air pollution. This is something that architects and builders are unaware of. We need to change this, and we are grateful for the World Green Building Council and its partners for working to reduce air pollution in the built environment."

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One aim of the Air Quality in Built Environment is to inform people on the impacts of indoor air pollution.

The campaign has specific goals:

Reduce ambient outdoor emissions:

  • Operational emissions: Reduce the impact of the built environment on global air pollution by limiting emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants to benefit human health, the natural environment, and limit the construction sector’s contribution on climate change.
  • Embodied emissions: Endorse strategies to lower emission of greenhouse gases from the full life cycle of a building. We aim to increase awareness of the health and environmental threats of unsustainable construction practices, as well as the impact of material transport, demolition and waste across the supply chain.

Mitigate sources of indoor air pollution:

  • Materials: Promote importance of sustainable, non-toxic and air-purifying building materials to limit off-gassing of pollutants within buildings
  • Building fabric: Develop awareness of importance of building fabric and construction quality, as well as the role of retrofitting existing stock, to lower risk of damp and mould
  • Ventilation: Champion appropriate ventilation strategies to achieve energy efficiency and health priorities for efficient indoor air management 

Radically improve sustainable operation of buildings:

  • Prevent the emissions multiplier effect: Endorse sustainable design, operation and retrofit of buildings that protects inhabitants from polluted outdoor air with conscious avoidance of the emissions multiplier effect
  • Minimise indoor pollution: To increase understanding and present solutions to the health and environmental threats of indoor air pollution, in both developing and developed nations. 3.8 million deaths a year are attributable to use of unclean cookstoves, and the damaging health impacts they cause

Increase global awareness:

  • Develop recognition of the impact of the built environment on global air pollution, including understanding of threats to human and planetary health and the consequential economic impacts. 
  • Present solutions and promote calls to action for a range of stakeholders; including citizens, business and policy makers. 

The World Green Building Council is a global network of Green Building Councils in 70 countries which are transforming the places people live, work, play and learn. Its mission is to “create green buildings for everyone, everywhere - enabling people to thrive both today and tomorrow”. The World Green Building Council became a partner of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in January, 2019.

The Air Quality in the Built Environment campaign features 12 images available as social media assets which are available here.  

For more information please contact Catriona Brady cbrady@worldgbc.org

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