CLEW Masterclass: How to report on the construction sector’s hidden climate impact

We are inviting: Journalists
25 July 2024 at 16.00-17.00 CEST
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The climate and environmental impacts of construction have remained an afterthought in discussions about making buildings greener. While homes and offices are becoming more energy efficient, and the electricity they use greener, less progress has been made in construction. How can buildings reduce their entire environmental impact, from construction through to demolition? CLEW has set out to see the whole picture and highlight available and realistic solutions to fully decarbonise our built environment. In this masterclass, our reporters will share experiences, tips, and lessons learnt from researching and writing about this topic with fellow journalists.

Photo: Claudius Pfug / dena

Buildings begin polluting long before they are put to use and continue to do so when they have to be torn down. In fact, by 2050, constructing buildings is estimated to have the same climate warming impact as inhabiting them. These hidden emissions — known as embodied or grey emissions — are pushed into the spotlight as heating and cooling buildings falls closer in line with climate targets.

The challenges, and benefits, to making construction climate-friendly are threefold: the sector will need to find ways to reduce emissions, resource use, and waste. Reimagining construction practices, introducing circular economy principles, and decarbonising materials will all play a role. However, socioeconomic and cultural aspects will also need to feature in the discussion to achieve true sustainability. There are materials, technologies and new approaches to make buildings truly climate friendly, but often old habits get in the way of progress.

To reach climate neutrality, the climate and environmental impacts of construction deserve more attention in the public discourse. This masterclass follows CLEW's deep dive into embodied emissions, including analyses, interviews and a factsheet. During the hour-long session, journalists will learn about:

  • Why it's important to address construction when reporting on the buildings' sector
  • The state of play and where EU legislation stands
  • What the most promising solutions are
  • Lessons learnt from reporting on construction, underreported topics and future story leads
  • Who valuable contacts are

We hope this format fosters a conversation between peers, and we actively encourage journalists to share their own experience. This session will not be recorded and statements are off the record.


16.00 - 16.05

Welcome and opening remarks

By Carolina Kyllmann, CLEW

16.05 - 16.15

Re-imagining the construction sector, why embodied emissions matter


16.15 - 16.25

Lessons from writing the analysis "Reused and recycled buildings challenge wasteful construction status quo"

By Sean Carroll, FORESIGHT

16.25 - 16.35

Lessons from writing the factsheet "What are the best materials for sustainable construction and renovation?"

By Carolina Kyllmann, CLEW

16.35 - 17.00

Q&A; Open Discussion


Sean Carroll is the Cities & Buildings editor at FORESIGHT Climate and Energy. He has spent over a decade writing about urban sustainability and climate policy in Europe. Sean holds a master’s degree in Journalism and Media in Europe and has extensive journalistic experience from newsrooms in Dublin and Brussels. He and Carolina co-author the dossier's article on circular construction practices.

Carolina Kyllmann is a staff Correspondent for Clean Energy Wire and specialises in the construction sector, grids and adaptation to climate change. She led CLEW's dossier on the construction sector's struggle to go from big polluter to carbon hero. Carolina holds a degree in Journalism Studies from the University of Sheffield.


How can I sign up?

Please click on the red "Sign up"-Button and fill in the necessary information. Remember to confirm your sign up via the automatic email you receive from us (it could land in your spam folder).

Signing up is possible until 2 hours prior to the web event.

Will the event be on the record?

No, the web-event will be off the record.

Will the event be recorded?

No, the event won't be recorded.

Which language will be spoken?

The web-event language is English.

How can I improve the sound quality?

Sound quality is greatly improved by using headsets with a microphone. It is recommended that all active participants equip themselves accordingly (smartphone headsets are sufficient).

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