GGI Welcomed Australia, Chile, Georgia, and Nigeria as Participating Countries; GGI Countries Shared Approaches to Advancing Sustainability Across Government Buildings
Yesterday, representatives of over 70 countries across six continents met for the sixth meeting of the Greening Government Initiative (GGI)—a first-of-its-kind initiative that enables countries to exchange information, promote innovation, and share best practices to support global efforts to green national government operations and meet Paris Agreement commitments on climate change. The GGI champions the catalytic role of national governments towards countries’ overall achievement of their climate goals.
Executive Director for the Centre for Greening Government at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Nick Xenos and Federal Chief Sustainability Officer Andrew Mayock from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) led the meeting. The meeting focused on how national governments can lead by example to achieve higher levels of sustainability across government-owned and government-leased buildings to reduce emissions, achieve sustainability goals, and stimulate growth within their economies. The meeting also recognized Australia, Chile, Georgia, and Nigeria for recently joining the GGI.
In many countries, national governments own and operate significant building portfolios. Buildings are one of the largest drivers of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in government operations, and therefore, approaches and innovations to reduce emissions through design, construction and operation are critical for greening government operations. However, countries share common challenges in pursuing sustainable and net-zero emissions public facilities, including scaling energy efficiency, building electrification, reducing water use, and identifying financial and technical resources for new construction and retrofits. Today, many governments have set ambitious targets for achieving zero-emissions from government-owned and government-leased facilities. For example, the U.S. Federal Government is on track to meet President Biden’s goal of modernizing the Federal buildings portfolio to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction in building emissions by 2032.
The meeting featured presentations from Morocco, Singapore, and Switzerland that outlined each country’s approaches to achieving a higher level of sustainability across government facilities. Justin Wu, Director of the Public Sector Sustainability Office at the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment in Singapore, shared Singapore’s ambitious plans to reduce emissions and improve resource efficiency of government buildings through a combination of policy, standards, and dedicated programs to support implementation. Amine Ahmarras, Head of Training at Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency, highlighted how the Moroccan government is increasing the use of renewable energy, maximizing energy efficiency, and rationalizing water consumption in government buildings – even achieving energy positive buildings. Carmen Maybud, Head of the Energy and Climate Confederation at the General Secretariat of Switzerland’s Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, discussed how Switzerland’s federal government is achieving sustainability objectives in the building sector through policies, voluntary standards, and tools, such as grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
A robust question and answer session followed the presentations, reflecting the reality that countries face common challenges, considerations, and opportunities in pursuing sustainable facilities, and that the GGI provides a valuable forum for insight and support for countries as they work to meet their own climate and sustainability goals.
The GGI plans to hold its seventh meeting in April 2023, which will focus on countries’ efforts to improve green procurement practices.
To date, 48 countries have endorsed the GGI Concept Note and joined the initiative.
For more information about the Greening Government Initiative, visit www.sustainability.gov/ggi.