CSIC represents Scotland as centre of excellence for next generation construction

Two people shaking hands

A network of International Centres of Excellence for High-Performance Buildings has been launched today (3 November), signalling a global commitment to the sustainable and energy efficient development of buildings in an initiative led by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).


International representatives were joined by Michael Matheson, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, and Olga Algayerova, executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, for an official signing of the agreement which took place at Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) earlier today. 


The built environment and construction sector is central to tackling climate change, with buildings consuming as much as 70% of the electricity generated globally and accounting for around 40% of CO2 emissions[1]. High-performance buildings are designed to use minimal amounts of energy for heating, cooling, lighting, and ventilation, with a range of benefits for both the environment and the people who live and work in them. 


Providing education, training, and other critical resources the centres will support their local industries to move forward in line with the UN Framework Guidelines for Energy Efficiency Standards in Buildings.  They will also collaborate with one another to share resources and knowledge internationally. 


The framework largely focuses on three goals: reducing the energy consumed by buildings so that additional requirements can be met using no-carbon or low-carbon energy sources, increasing the carbon stored in buildings, and the greater use of building materials and systems that are low in embodied carbon. 


CSIC has been selected as Scotland’s centre of excellence, building on the innovation centre’s mission to accelerate the built environment’s transition to zero carbon. For the duration of COP26, the centre is hosting a showcase of sustainable construction in practice, with events, exhibits and prototypes to demonstrate the possibilities and capabilities of the sector in meeting the net zero challenge. 


This week Scotland is taking centre stage in the climate change conversation and every sector is now looking at what can be done to make meaningful progress. In construction and the built environment, as one of the biggest contributors to emissions, we have a responsibility to drive transformation and mainstream low-carbon innovation. Decarbonising buildings is perhaps the biggest challenge we face and no single nation can tackle the issue alone. “Collaboration and international knowledge exchange will help to unlock a range of opportunities, with many nations working together for a common cause. It is fantastic to see CSIC recognised as a centre of excellence, and we look forward to working with the wider network to put the built environment commitments made at COP26 into practice.”Representatives from the South West College InnoTech Centre in Northern Ireland, passivhausMAINE in the United States, EnEffect in Bulgaria, Passive House Canada and the UK-wide Passivhaus Trust also attended the ceremony, while the Building Innovation Hub in Washington, DC, and the Building Energy Exchange in New York joined virtually. Stephen Good
Buildings and the built environment must be the highest priority for action by communities and by countries to deliver not only the Paris Agreement, but also the whole 2030 agenda. Buildings are critical across all the sustainable development goals. The goals go beyond decarbonisation, though decarbonisation is the most urgent as the climate crisis is existential. In fact, when we succeed with this initiative, we will have made a major step in breaking the historic link between development and carbon emissions, and that is the game. Olga Algayerova
Executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe
The Scottish Government is supporting plans for a more sustainable, productive, innovative and diverse construction industry.  We understand that wide-ranging changes will be required across the sector to prepare for the new decarbonisation workload; constructing and refurbishing net-zero assets in a resource efficient way.  I am delighted to see the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre’s (CSIC) role in that process recognised today. We will continue working closely together and with our international partners to ready the sector to achieve net zero. Michael Matheson
Net Zero Secretary