Cali is one of the cities in the ZCBA in Colombia. Photo by Reg Natarajan/Flickr

Since 2016, Colombian cities have actively participated in the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) — first Bogotá and Medellín, followed by Monteria and Cali — to identify policies and projects to advance building efficiency. WRI’s local partner, Consejo Colombiano de Construcción Sostenible (Colombia Green Building Council, or “CCCS”), led these engagements and forged strong partnerships with local and national officials.

As a part of the BEA, the City of Bogotá and CCCS developed an implementation protocol for the Ministry of Housing’s national building code, Resolution 549, which establishes minimum savings for water and energy in all new buildings — a first step for highly efficient buildings. Prior to the deep engagement with the BEA, Resolution 549 was not being deployed by cities because no standard procedures were in place. The BEA supported the buildout of a step-by-step method to ensure water and energy efficiency compliance in new construction projects and developed trainings for the public and private sectors to apply these practices. Diverse stakeholders played a critical role in creating the protocol and trainings, as the primary purpose of the project was to fill the gaps in their understanding of how to institute the code. This work ultimately led to the launch of a national dialogue on building code implementation and strengthened Colombia’s building efficiency work.  

With this success and others as a part of the BEA and the country’s clear ambition toward sectoral decarbonization as seen in the 2050 Carbon Neutrality Strategy (E2050), Colombia was selected in 2020 receive technical and financial support to develop a national Zero Carbon Building Roadmap and two local action plans for implementation as a part of WRI’s Zero Carbon Building Accelerator (ZCBA).

The partnership is working to produce a roadmap that will be adopted by the national government and further modify Resolution 549 to implement zero carbon buildings nationally. CCCS is again leading on-the-ground organization with national and local actors across sectors and industries. WRI centers stakeholder engagement in the ZCBA roadmap and action planning approaches to ensure holistic and deep systemic transformation. Implementing actors from every stage of the building lifecycle must be included in the planning and design of long-term solutions to effectively deliver the government’s current commitments and bring real-world change.

Building National Stakeholder Engagement

In April 2021, a national launch event was held to announce the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator project and its goals in Colombia. The event also included a panel discussion to give context to the current state of zero carbon buildings in the country and was followed by an interactive session that gathered preliminary stakeholder input and deepened relationships in the field.

Participating virtually, 199 attendees from government, the private sector, academia and civil society joined the call to hear from national and local government officials, as well as the CEO of the World Green Building Council, as they announced how the ZCBA would interact at the national and local levels in Colombia.

During the panel discussion, private and financial institutions, engineers, designers and government representatives shared their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges in achieving zero carbon buildings in Colombia.

Key themes identified by panelists included:

  • Alignment of national and local policies for the implementation of zero carbon buildings.
  • The importance of regulations that encourage and support secure futures for entrepreneurs and investors.
  • Capitalizing on green development as a solid business investment.
  • Building capacity for a sustainable building and construction sector through workforce training programs and public education campaigns.
  • Research and technological developments as key drivers to reduce CO2 in the materials manufacturing processes.
  • Strategizing to manage informal development.

With this context, an interactive session asked participants questions about the distribution of CO2 emissions throughout the lifecycle of buildings. The lifecycle was broken down into five categories and subcategories:

Framing of Buildings Lifecycle Carbon Emissions in Colombia
Phase of LifecycleCO2 Sources
Environmental IntegrationGreen Space (Quality and Quantity)Public SpaceUrban InfrastructureTransportation SystemsEquipment
Material SupplyRaw Material ExtractionIncorporation of Used Raw MaterialsManufacturing ProcessEnergy Supply in Manufacturing ProcessWater Supply in Manufacturing ProcessTransportation and Distribution
ConstructionEnergy Use and Supply in Construction ProcessWater Use and Supply in Construction ProcessEmissions Generated from Heavy EquipmentWastewater Produced from the Construction Process
Use, Operation and MaintenanceOperational Energy Use and SupplyOperational Water Use and SupplyCooling Systems EmissionsOperational WastewaterSolid Waste Production and ManagementRemodels and Repairs
DemolitionFinal Waste Disposal ProcessTransportation of Construction and Demolition WasteEnergy Use and Supply for DemolitionRecycling and Reuse of Materials. 

For each phase of the building lifecycle, participants were asked about:

  • How each phase contributed to the reduction and generation of emissions in buildings.
  • Whether subcategories should be added or removed from the phase.
  • The prioritization of subcategories based on their impact to achieve net zero carbon buildings.
  • References to inform the baseline assessment for each phase of the lifecycle, looking specifically at insights into policy, finance, innovation, technology, renewable energy and capacity building.

At the end of the session, attendees were encouraged to continue participating in the road mapping process throughout the ZCBA project by joining stakeholder working groups. Working groups inform and review the baseline assessment, provide insights for the gap analysis, identify transformative actions for the recommendation report and ultimately give feedback on the national roadmap before it is finalized.

Stakeholder Working Groups

To ensure a holistic and inclusive approach, an advisory committee and nine stakeholder working groups were established to guide the road mapping process and address the building lifecycle action areas and enablers outlined in by the GlobalABC’s Roadmap for Buildings and Construction.

A key institutional structure for the ZCBA in Colombia is the advisory committee, the governing body of the project which aims to align the vision of the accelerator at the national and local levels. The advisory committee is comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Housing, National Planning Department, City Planning Department of Bogotá, City Planning Department of Cali, CAMACOL – Colombian Construction Chamber and CCCS.

Building on the national launch event, nine working groups were devised to garner feedback on the building lifecycle, promote enabling actions and adapt national recommendations to the local context. Stakeholders self-selected the working group they were most interested in advising on and where they felt their expertise would be most impactful.

Breakdown of ZCBA's Working Groups in Colombia

Each of the nine working groups meets monthly to support the successive phase of the project. The workshops begin with presentations from CCCS to give updates and context to the project, followed by engagement activities where participants give feedback, share insights and advise on inputs or alternative ideas. Thus far, working groups have informed the current state of construction analysis, baseline assessment and gap analysis.

Steps for Stakeholder Working Groups in the Roadmap Process

CCCS has centered the road mapping process on the stakeholder working groups to bring insights and feedback into their methodology that may have been unseen without diverse perspectives from across sectors. Bringing deep systematic change to the building and construction sector requires that the actors who will be implementing the roadmap be incorporated into the planning and design in order to strategize whole lifecycle actions and solutions that will be realistic, viable and successful. Further updates on Colombia’s progress will be shared as the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator project continues over the next year.