Emerging markets are stepping up to join the battle against heavy carbon emissions, practicing their own valuable carbon-intensive approaches to urbanization.

With 60 percent of the world’s cities yet to be constructed and buildings and the ‘building of buildings’ accounting for 36 percent of final global energy consumption and almost 40 percent of CO2 emissions, green buildings seem to be the way to go. They are constructed with people and the environment always in mind, and with an eye toward increased resource efficiency and lower utility bills.

In constructing green buildings, building designers place and orient their structures to best effect, use glass sparingly, and employ green-friendly options such as rainwater harvesting systems and water-efficient toilets.

In addition to saving the world—always a bonus—investors love the financial upsides of green building, including long-term operating and maintenance costs, and higher investment returns due to lower sustainable risks. And in emerging markets, green building equals a $24.7 trillion investment opportunity.

To enhance the supply and demand for green building on all levels, programs like the LEED certification program and IFC’s Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) must be promoted and cost-effective and practical designs should be discovered via relevant software, such as IFC’s EDGE software. Codes and incentives must be put in place to regulate and protect green building projects, and access to project financing must be readily available, via green bonds, mortgages and property funds.

Various means of producing and facilitating green building projects should be researched and tested, with data collected and analysed at all stages.

In emerging markets, where green building is needed the most, governmental bodies must join with financial institutions and the private sector to transform their build design horizons—not to mention their environment as a whole.