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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

Acting Capitol Police chief: Officers were unsure of lethal force rules on Jan. 6

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman wrote in prepared remarks for a House hearing on Thursday that officers in her department were "unsure of when to use lethal force" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: Capitol Police did deploy lethal force on Jan. 6 — shooting and killing 35-year-old Ashli Babbit — but have faced questions over why officers appeared to be less forceful against pro-Trump rioters than participants in previous demonstrations, including those over Black Lives Matter and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

United CEO is confident people will feel safe traveling again by 2022

Axios' Joann Muller and United CEO Scott Kirby. Photo: Axios

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby believes that people will feel safe traveling again by this time next year, depending on the pace of vaccinations and the government's ongoing response to the pandemic, he said at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: Misery for global aviation is likely to continue and hold back a broader economic recovery if nothing changes, especially with new restrictions on international border crossings. U.S. airlines carried about 60% fewer passengers in 2020 compared with 2019.

The risks and rewards of charging state-backed hackers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities.

Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials.