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Tackling the climate crisis with data: what the built-environment sector can do

Mon Nov 1, 2021
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This report highlights challenges relating to carbon calculation; explores bringing together data on the existing built environment; examines choices around energy saving and retrofit planning; and looks at better use of digital representations to drive low-carbon design

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The Paris Agreement is based on global climate models that work. Governments and businesses have agreed milestones for 2030 and 2050 that require us to act now.

These climate goals require data that is specific to key industries, users and asset investors. For example, what is the carbon risk for an asset manager? How do property owners design and manage these assets? What is the role of the consumer or employee in the drive for net-zero properties? These questions apply across the built environment, including buildings, transportation, utilities, cities and agriculture.

Solving the climate emergency requires creativity in how we collect, use and share large volumes of data: ‘data at scale’, which has been transforming industries for the past two decades.

This report:

  • Surveys particular challenges, including bringing together data on the existing built environment to support strategic action and investment, and unlocking greater building and house-level data to support individual choices around energy saving and retrofit planning.
  • Identifies the need to improve standards and working practices so that digital representations of projects during the planning stage can be better used to drive low-carbon design.
  • Highlights challenges relating to reliable and trustworthy carbon calculation, and points to the potential for modern data stewardship practices to address some of these.
  • Examines the importance of bringing in data from other settings and sectors, working across professional and organisational boundaries.

Research/writing by ODI Associate Tim Davies: interdisciplinary social researcher, consultant and facilitator.

Collaborate with us

This working paper also launches a call for collaboration – we are asking organisations and individuals to take action:

  • Give us your feedback on this working paper via this form to help focus future data collaborations and activities by 19 November 2021
  • On the form, you can:
    • Sign up to collaborate with us – making 2022 a year of action on built-environment data to tackle the climate crisis.
    • Tell us about existing data-sharing and open data projects, priorities and needs to help build a shared map of initiatives and opportunities.
    • Commit to identifying how you can play a role in improving data flows in the built-environment sector, building a deeper culture of data sharing and use to address climate challenges.

Tackling the climate crisis with data: what the built-environment sector can do