BUILD UPON: A Collaborative Approach to Enhance Green Building

Written by Audrey Nugent, Senior Policy Advisor, Europe Network, World Green Building Council

Together with its partners Habitat for Humanity advocates for more sustainable and energy efficient residential buildings in Europe. The World Green Building Council’s project BUILD UPON aims to support these efforts.

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) is a global member network of Green Building Councils (GBCs) enabling green building and sustainable communities through leadership and market transformation. Our aim is to make all building and communities sustainable so that we can have a thriving planet today and in the future.


One way we do this is by leveraging the potential of buildings to reduce our emissions. Indeed, last year at COP21, the WorldGBC and its 74 Green Building Councils made a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from the buildings sector by 84 gigatonnes by 2050. Now is the time to transform these words into action –  not an easy task considering that 90% of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have already been built.

That is why the European network of the WorldGBC are so excited to be working with 13 GBCs across Europe to lead the BUILD UPON project. BUILD UPON is the world’s largest collaborative project on building renovation aimed at assisting countries in developing national renovation strategies, as required by EU law. The project empowers over 1,000 key stakeholders, across 13 countries, to shape the change needed in our existing buildings.

Delivering meaningful strategies is challenging – many of the individuals and organisations who have a stake in the process have not been engaged in the national renovation strategy debate. This lack of large scale structured collaboration between stakeholders has meant that countries are not delivering the renovation revolution Europe desperately needs.

The BUILD UPON project is unique in its approach which is centred on building a collaborative community to help countries design and implement their national renovation strategies. Moving from an individualistic to a collective approach means that we can achieve the impact needed to make our buildings efficient and fit for purpose.

In the first phase of the project, a mapping exercise of key stakeholders identified which organisations need to work together to deliver ambitious renovation strategies. This phase also saw the development of the “RenoWiki” – an online platform containing brief summaries of all the key renovation initiatives for each of the 13 countries in the project. This now contains just under 1,000 renovation initiatives.

Using the tools developed during the first phase of the project, project participants are now hosting the collaborative community process needed to deliver these strategies. To date over 50 workshops have been held across 13 countries, enabling over 1,000 stakeholders to shape the change needed in our existing buildings.

We are already seeing some of the tangible outcomes from this process. In Ireland, a ten-point strategy formulated from the outcome of the workshops was recently presented to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the responsible government for the delivery of the strategy has cited the usefulness and value of BUILD UPON in assisting them in developing the strategy. In Slovenia, an educational “e-platform” is being set up to overcome knowledge barriers about sustainable buildings that were identified during their workshop process.

In addition to these developments at a national stage, the project is facilitating new partnerships – we have been particularly excited about the number of GBCs, banks, valuers, energy utilities and universities coming together to develop a project on energy efficiency mortgages –proof that a collaborative approach works!

The BUILD UPON community looks forward to 30th April 2017 when these national renovation strategies are delivered to the EU!

 audrey-nugent Audrey is Senior Policy Advisor, advising on sustainable buildings policy for the Europe Regional Network of over 30 national Green Building Councils. In particular, Audrey’s work focuses on WorldGBC’s flagship EU Horizon 2020 project BUILD UPON, the multi-stakeholder project engaging over 1,000 key stakeholders across 13 countries to develop strategies for scaling-up deep energy efficient building renovation.

Audrey has a Master in urban planning. She previously worked for a trade body advising chemical companies on policy and regulatory changes that impact their business and facilitating discussion between these companies and government. She has also worked for a London local authority ensuring its compliance with UK energy policy, in particular the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).