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The Sustainable Energy for All initiative was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize action and partnerships focused on sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society. The initiative has set three primary objectives, to be met by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
This report looks at the construction industry and identifies six priority actions it can take to advance the three objectives; energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, while driving increased business value.
The construction industry consumes a significant amount of raw materials—many of which require large amounts of energy to process and produce. It is estimated that as much as 50 percent of all materials extracted from the earth are transformed into construction materials. Moreover, these materials account for approximately 50 percent of all waste generated prior to recycling. Working with its customers, the industry has significant opportunities to become more energy efficient primarily through the use of less virgin raw material and the reuse/recycling of waste.
The construction industry has opportunities both to contribute to the broader social goals of the initiative, and to realize enhanced business value in the areas of revenue growth, cost reduction, brand enhancement and risk management.
The business opportunity for the construction industry is two-fold:
Collaborate within the supply chain to improve the energy efficiency of operations.
Engage stakeholders to improve the energy efficiency of new construction and existing buildings.
From an operational perspective, the value-creation opportunities are primarily centered on cost reduction and risk management. There are also opportunities to drive intangible value through brand enhancement, based on a company’s overall use of energy and stakeholder perception of sustainable business practices.
Significant opportunities lie in the construction and retrofitting of green buildings, where demand is expected to rise dramatically. This is a significant value creation opportunity related primarily to revenue growth, but also to brand enhancement and risk mitigation.
In general, much of the growing demand for green building construction is in developing countries, where new construction dominates. In developed countries, new construction accounts for only about one percent of buildings, so the focus should be retrofitting and renovating existing buildings to reduce energy consumption.
Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact have identified six priority actions the construction industry can take to become more energy efficient, and advance its business opportunities in the sustainable energy market:
Reduce consumption of raw materials by sourcing recycled, repurposed and renewable resources.
Increase the use of renewable energy and alternative fuels.
Increase energy efficiency of processes and facilities.
Construct and renovate buildings that are more energy efficient over their lifetimes.
Facilitate product recycling and identify opportunities to beneficially reuse waste.
Promote energy-efficient building codes and regulatory incentives for more energy-efficient building projects.
October 2, 2012
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