29 Sep 2017 Story Ecosystems

How “net zero” buildings can help us tackle climate change

Thousands of businesses, civil society groups and people around the globe are taking part in World Green Building Week, an annual event that celebrates the positive role green buildings play in our lives.

This year’s World Green Building Week, which runs from 25 September to 1 October, focuses on the need to make all buildings “net zero” by 2050.

Buildings – which are responsible for around 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – are often seen as the villains when it comes to climate change. But they can actually be the heroes.

Net zero buildings are highly energy-efficient buildings that get their energy from renewable sources to achieve net zero carbon emissions. They are the homes, offices, shops, stadiums and theatres of the future.

But net zero buildings aren’t only about carbon emissions and energy. The term “net zero” can also be applied to water and waste, and can be used in reference to a building’s everyday emissions or across its whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to the building’s deconstruction and disposal.

In the fight against climate change, #OurHeroIsZero.

This World Green Building Week UN Environment is encouraging people everywhere to see the faces of the heroes in the buildings where they live and work, and to join us in the mission to make all buildings net zero.

The week is led by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), its network of more than 75 Green Building Councils and their 32,000 member companies.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in World Green Building Week 2017:



  • Join the conversation on social media with #OurHeroIsZero
  • Take and share a photo with your personalized #OurHeroIsZero sign. Pose with friends, colleagues and your building.
  • Talk to your network – friends, colleagues, neighbours – about the need for net zero and urge them to join the movement.


  • Host an event, conference, webinar, tour or net zero building open house event to raise awareness in your community.
  • Find out what steps your building can take towards becoming net zero here.
  • If you’re responsible for developing or retrofitting a building, make it net zero and lead the way.

For more information on how net zero buildings can help us win the fight against climate change, visit the WorldGBC website.

Pollution is the theme of the 2017 United Nations Environment Assembly, which is meeting in Nairobi from 4 to 6 December. Sign the pledge and help us #BeatPollution around the world. Together, we can clean up the planet.