Bogotá and Cali Connect Local Action to National Ambition to Transform the Buildings Sector
GHG emissions from the buildings and construction sector could be reduced by 54% in Bogotá, Colombia, by 2030 through locally scaled implementation of the National Roadmap for Net Zero Buildings. Photo by Andre Albuquerque/Flickr

Following the launch of Colombia’s first National Roadmap for Net Zero Buildings in June 2022, the cities of Bogotá and Cali are setting the foundation for how to implement the roadmap at the local level. The municipal governments of both cities have been embedded in planning and decision-making throughout the development of the national roadmap to ensure it considers local challenges, barriers and perspectives. As a part of their participation in the Zero Carbon Building Accelerator, Bogotá and Cali committed to creating local action plans aligned with the national roadmap and adapted to specific context, needs and realities of their communities.

Such alignment between local and national goals and processes is a key element to accelerating climate action globally. In this coordinated effort, the national roadmap establishes the goals and sets the policy environment, while city action plans drive implementation at the local level. Bogotá and Cali’s city action plans will act as a reference for other cities throughout Colombia as the roadmap is mainstreamed – and depending on its success, the whole process may be a model for other countries globally.

National Roadmap Sets the Stage

Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development led the charge in developing the national roadmap for net zero buildings and aligning its objectives with existing national net zero goals in the country’s Long-Term Climate Strategy (E2050) and NDCs.  Still, robust intervention from local governments is required to achieve any roadmap’s goals. Considering cities like Bogotá account for 20% of GHG emissions in the buildings sector nationwide, collaboration between different levels of government is key to overcoming fragmentation of policy and action in transitioning to a net zero built environment.

Colombia’s National Roadmap for Net Zero Buildings aims to achieve net zero in all new buildings by 2030 and all buildings by 2050 and maps out an ambitious list of 67 goals with an accompanying 175 transformative actions across six areas: Corporate Practices, Materials, Urban Planning, New Buildings, Existing Buildings and Informal Settlements.

Within each of these areas, specific actions have been defined for cities to take forward into their local action planning. For example, in the Materials section, the roadmap states that cities should establish municipal public procurement requirements for purchasing sustainable and recycled materials to promote broader use locally as well as incentives (regulatory, administrative and tax) for buildings that have higher percentages of sustainable and recycled materials.

Actions are broad to allow cities to develop mechanisms that are innovative and meet the needs of their municipality. Integrating these guidelines for building decarbonization into city action plans – whether more general climate action plans or building sector specific – encourages alignment between national and local climate goals and pushes the implementation of the roadmap to move faster at the city level.

City government stakeholders played an essential role in defining the proposed actions. To improve communication and coordination between city and national governments as well as across ministries at the national level, an advisory committee was established at the beginning of the ZCBA as the governing body of the road mapping process. This committee included representatives from the City Planning Departments of Bogotá and Cali, alongside officials from Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Energy, National Planning Department, CAMACOL Colombian Construction Chamber and on-the-ground project partners Consejo Colombiano de Construcción Sostenible (“Colombia Green Building Council” or CCCS).

Nearly 400 stakeholders from different sectors across the value chain engaged in the roadmap’s development – from the baseline assessment to identifying transformative actions and beyond. Working groups for the project were broken down to focus on building lifecycle, enabling actions (i.e. financing) sectors, trade associations, civil society and academia. Participants gave input into the roadmap from the local perspective, highlighting the challenges cities face in resource gaps, lack of capacity and awareness, and limited access to tools and technologies. With the rollout of the national roadmap complete, these working groups have begun finalizing the city action plans for local implementation of the roadmap’s ambitious goals.

Bogotá and Cali Taking Up the Torch

The development of the city action plans has followed quickly behind the launch of the roadmap since local governments were embedded throughout the ZCBA. Data collected and resources created for the roadmap have been modified to fit local contexts of different cities.

A baseline assessment and evaluation of mitigation measures was carried out for both Bogotá and Cali using the same methodology as the analyses at the national level. Mitigation measures for each city were prioritized based on six criteria: GHG emissions mitigation potential, cost-efficiency, feasibility of implementation, and co-benefits including socio-economic, environmental and quality of life aspects.

Methodology for Analyzing GHG Emission Mitigation Measures:

  1. Review global mitigation measures and select measures to be evaluated
  2. Design of the measures for the local context
  3. Evaluate mitigation measures following a multi-criteria analysis
  4. Qualitative evaluation of measures
  5. Prioritize measures to meet the goals of the 2030, 2040 and 2050 mitigation scenarios

While the potential mitigation impact on emissions of each measure differs between cities, the results from the analyses found the three most comprehensive mitigation measures for reducing embodied carbon in both cities are optimizing building design, improving access to low-cost housing to reduce informal construction and retrofitting existing buildings. To address the operational carbon, the three most impactful measures would be replacing refrigerators in the residential sector and non-residential subsectors, replacing lighting equipment and enforcing national building code — Resolution 549 — which establishes minimum savings for water and energy in all new buildings.

Based on this analysis, GHG emissions from the buildings and construction sector could be reduced by 54% in Bogotá and 51% in Cali by 2030, which is in line with the goals set by the roadmap and NDCs — 51% in 2030.

This work was shared with stakeholders in each city to garner feedback, discuss any changes and make the necessary adjustments. Alongside the city actions identified in the national roadmap, this analysis fed into the drafting of the city action plans.

Currently, the drafts of the action plans are being socialized with the working groups who participated in the development of the roadmap, as well as new city stakeholders with local knowledge and expertise who did not participate. For adoption before the end of 2022, the plans will follow the same structure of the national roadmap, highlighting actions in each of the six areas that are specific to the local needs and context, and will include a monitoring and tracking protocol that establishes performance indicators, methodology and actors responsible for implementation of each action. Since the launch of the national roadmap, Cali has already released Local Construction Manual for Sustainable Development that provides an overview of designs and incentives for sustainable construction and signed onto the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Buildings Commitment. Bogotá is working on ecourbanism policy that will be linked to the city action plan.

This project update originally appeared on

Kayla Rakes is the Engagement Coordinator for the Buildings Initiative at WRI’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities.

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