UNECE Centre of Excellence status awarded to Sustainable Development Foundation at COP26

On Wednesday 3rd November 2021 at COP26, the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) recognised the Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) as an International Centre of Excellence (ICE) for High Performance Buildings.

One of just ten such centres in the world, the SDF is tackling the climate and ecological emergency by transforming how we design, build, operate and maintain buildings to make them fit for the future, now.

The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products was originally set up by the SDF in 2011 and will be a key partner in the International Centre of Excellence as part of the SDF Alliance, which includes progressive sustainability organisations such as Passivhaus Trust, Good Homes Alliance and Building Performance Network.

SDF Director Jon Bootland signs agreement alongside Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

“The time for talking is over. Goals are good, but they’re just wishes. We haven’t delivered on the promises made in the Paris Climate Accord, agreed back in 2015 at COP21.

This is a big problem for the UK because our building stock is the oldest in Europe, and 80% of the homes we’ll live in by 2050, are already built. Our homes and buildings need an urgent rethink to meet the climate and ecological emergencies.At the SDF, our mission is to bring a sense of urgency to the adoption of exemplary sustainability practices for buildings, leading to lower carbon emissions, improved occupant comfort and more resilient communities. Our work demonstrates that this is possible NOW.

What’s different about COP26 is that today’s leaders have the evidence showing how to do this. Pioneers of building exemplars are sharing their evidence. Not only is this good news for the environment, it’s also great news for the people who live and work in these buildings because they promote health and wellbeing.

Knowledge is one thing, but we need to act now. Actions bring about change and we must change how we tackle the climate and ecological emergency and meet our goals. The UNECE Centre of Excellence status will help us to achieve the transformation needed.”

Jon Bootland – Director, Sustainable Development Foundation


“We are delighted that Sustainable Development Foundation and the work of its SDF Alliance partner organisations has been recognised by the UNECE as a Centre of Excellence. ASBP has been making the case for high performance buildings for the past decade, championing sustainability issues such as embodied carbon, health and wellbeing, building performance and low impact materials.As we surpass the 100th member milestone, we look forward to working alongside our members and SDF Alliance partners in what will be another vital few years of climate action. The time to act is now!”

Simon Corbey – Director, The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products


“We want all buildings to adopt exemplary sustainability practices. It’s a commitment and an ambition that involves everyone.

The SDF Alliance – comprising several leading-edge, not-for-profit organisations – brings together a wealth of knowledge and evidence of innovations in sustainable building practice. Collectively, they help to build confidence in the construction industry (architects, builders, local authorities, social housing providers, suppliers and homeowners) as to how sustainable building products and practices work. The evidence – expertise, success stories etc – is clear to see.We need to reassure all our stakeholders that the changes will realise genuine benefits whilst challenging misconceptions that making those changes will be too difficult or costly. We need to show what’s buildable – with proven performance – now. Through collaboration, sharing knowledge and best practice, the SDF plays a crucial role to make all our buildings – new and old – high performance.

Today we are launching a collection of real-world exemplar projects, to inspire the transformation needed to create a new era of buildings that are fit for the future. On the SDF website, you can see these pioneering projects which demonstrate cross-cutting sustainability performance, designed and built to deliver whole-life net zero, promote occupant health and wellbeing and enable sustainable communities.

We have the knowledge to deliver exemplary sustainable buildings; we believe these projects are the most sustainable in the UK. What’s needed now are credible plans for widespread adoption of these approaches.”

Kate Brown – Head of Special Projects, Sustainable Development Foundation


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