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Driven by population growth and urbanization, the building sector is a significant contributor to economic growth. It is estimated to be worth 10 per cent of global GDP and to employ more than 111 million people (UNEP, 2014). However, with approximately 40 per cent of global energy use taking place within buildings, this sector is also the single largest contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

As a result, the design and use of energy- and resource-efficient buildings has a key role in climate change mitigation to accelerate the global green economy transition. Although vast savings are possible by constructing new green buildings and retrofitting existing buildings, even greater gains can be achieved by adopting a long-term “life-cycle” approach involving stakeholders at different stages – from environmentally-minded investors and architects, to sustainable extraction, construction and usage, and the eventual demolition and the recycling or disposal of the building materials.

Relevance to SDGs

Green buildings will have a role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 11, specifically target 11.c, which calls for support for least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials.


SDG 11.C
Sustainable Building in LDCs


United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Environmental Change Institute (ECI), Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC-Mistral)

Case Studies

Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED)
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Learning Products

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), MAVA Foundation
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Social & Human Capital Coalition
International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO)