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The Renaissance Tower, winner of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Platinum Certificate, in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

While countries like the U.S. and EU member states have to backpedal their heavy carbon emissions, emerging markets could still leapfrog the most carbon-intensive approaches to urbanization.

Why it matters: 60% of the world’s cities have yet to be built. Since buildings and building construction account for 36% of final global energy consumption and nearly 40% of total CO2 emissions, opting for green buildings in these new and more dense urban spaces would help meet global climate goals while sustaining economic growth.

How it works: Green buildings — from hospitals to hotels — have been shown to protect people and the environment while improving the bottom line. Increased resource efficiency means lower utility bills.

  • The basic elements of green building — structural orientation, conservative use of glass, water-efficient toilets, rainwater harvesting systems — are well understood and widely available.
  • Investors have been taking note of the business case: lower long-term operating and maintenance costs, decreased odds of becoming a stranded asset, and higher returns on investment due to lower sustainability risks. In emerging markets, green buildings represent a $24.7 trillion investment opportunity.

What's needed: Increasing both the supply of and demand for green buildings depends on several key factors:

Between the lines: Capturing data could prove vital as governments and policymakers experiment and test partnerships to fine-tune their approaches.

The bottom line: The private sector, governments and financial institutions will likely have to come together to adopt standards capable of transforming real estate, especially in the emerging markets where these improvements could have the greatest impact.

Alzbeta Klein is the director for climate business at the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group.

Go deeper

Scoop: Biden weighs retired general Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star general Lloyd Austin as his nominee for Defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
1 hour ago - Health

WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release"

A medical syringe and vial with fake coronavirus vaccine in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) logo. Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Top scientists at the World Health Organization on Friday called for more detailed information on a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca have said the vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses. AstraZeneca has since acknowledged that the smaller dose received by some participants was the result of an error by a contractor, per the New York Times.