Virtual Pavilion "BUILD BETTER NOW" for COP26 Highlights the Built Environment's Role in Tackling the Climate and Ecological Crises

Build Better Now, a virtual reality online exhibition demonstrating the opportunities for tackling the Climate Emergency and limiting the environmental impact of the buildings and cities we inhabit, has opened to the public. To enable maximum participation from around the world, Build Better Now at the Built Environment Virtual Pavilion at COP26 will be hosted online from 31st October to 12th November 2021, and will be free to access to all.


Build Better Now, the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion, Photo credit: AECOM

The virtual pavilion, designed by AECOM in collaboration with Install Archive, features a series of dome-shaped exhibition spaces amongst treetops and connected by walkways. The exhibition showcases 17 exemplary sustainable built projects from around the world, selected from an international Open Call.


Build Better Now, the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion, Photo credit: AECOM

Build Better Now also features a new 3D installation and accompanying film conceived for COP26 by Make Architects. The 3D installation highlights the potential for a circular future to restore our natural world. 

Alongside the exhibition, Build Better Now hosts an events series comprising a programme of tours and talks, keynotes, panel discussions and other downloadable content, to educate and inspire the built environment industry and public to act now to identify and deliver climate solutions at scale.


The Fountain of Circular Recovery (Year: 2030), Photo credit: Make Architects

The built environment has a central role to play in supporting the world’s transition to a net zero carbon economy. Globally, buildings consume over a third of energy produced, and are responsible for 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions. Build Better Now acts as a global call for climate action and is supported by a coalition of over 100 partner organisations from the built environment industry.


Build Better Now - Monash Woodside, Australia, Photo credit: Michael Kai

Following the Open Call, which was launched in June 2021, a rigorous and transparent selection process was undertaken to find projects for the exhibition. A judging panel comprising industry leaders from across the world, with insight into the complexities of built environment sustainability issues on a regional and local level, selected projects that are making an immediate positive impact on the planet and people’s lives. These projects are both scalable and replicable - giving the potential to deliver far-reaching impacts. Exploring themes such as natural resource use, climate mitigation and adaptation and nature and biodiversity, Build Better Now will showcase some of the most innovative solutions from across the globe.


Build Better Now - Mass Timber Market, Nairobi, Kenya, Photo credit: BuildX Studio

Pioneering projects include a cultural centre in Sweden that will be one of the world’s tallest timber buildings; the largest Certified Passivhaus building in the Southern hemisphere in Australia; a 100-hectare innovation district in Italy digitally mapped and powered by 100% renewable energy sources; and the largest new build energy-positive office building in Norway, which supplies surplus renewable energy to neighbouring buildings as well as powering electric buses.


Build Better Now - Milan Innovation District, Italy, Photo credit: artist impression


Build Better Now - Powerhouse Brattørkaia, Norway, Photo credit: Ivar Kvaal

Buildings constructed using natural local materials range from a UK university building utilising thatch and reed; a school in Indonesia built with bamboo and the first 3D-printed sustainable homes made entirely from raw clay – perfectly balancing ultra-modern construction techniques with historic, traditional materials.


Build Better Now - Heart of School, Bali, Indonesia, Photo credit: PT Bambu


Build Better Now - TECLA, Photo credit: Iago Corazza

Projects protecting and enhancing nature include a government-led eco-tourism initiative to restore a national park in Rwanda and a high-tech rewilding project, restoring native forest and peatlands and reintroducing locally extinct species to 100 acres of land in the Scottish Highlands, which will form a template for similar nature regeneration globally.

Build Better Now - Natural Capital Laboratory, Scotland, UK, Photo credit: Chris Coupland/AECOM

As well as government-funded research into retrofitting Scotland’s iconic but hard-to-heat tenement homes, the exhibition features a favela in Brazil and affordable sustainable housing solutions in the UK, New Zealand and Pakistan. Also included are an adaptable cross laminated timber bridge concept designed for a circular economy, as well as an initiative to develop a sustainable mass timber building market building in East Africa.


Build Better Now - Niddrie Road, Glasgow, UK John Gilbert Architects, Photo credit: John Gilbert Architects


Build Better Now - Instituto Favela da Paz, Brazil, Photo credit: Favela da Paz Institute

With COP26, the world is ready to tackle climate change and the built environment has a crucial part to play. We know why we must accelerate climate action and Build Better Now shows how we can get there. Everyone on the planet has a stake in our buildings and cities. I invite everyone to take inspiration from Build Better Now as a global showcase of pioneering solutions to climate change and hope that it supports the industry to create more sustainable buildings, places and cities of the future.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at the UK Green Building Council

About Build Better Now at the COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion

Build Better Now is a collaborative project co-owned by over 100 partner organisations from across the built environment sector, for which UKGBC is acting as a secretariat. This coalition has come together to ensure that the sector’s key role in addressing the climate and ecological emergencies is brought to the forefront - in the run-up to, during and far beyond COP26.

The Virtual Pavilion aims to showcase the relationship between the built environment and climate change, both as a part of the problem and the solution. It will comprise an exhibition of global exemplar projects and places, within a bespoke virtual reality (VR) space, as well as a major series of events and downloadable content – to include keynotes, panel discussions and more. On 11 November, the UN’s Climate Conference COP26 will feature a dedicated Built Environment Day as part of its official presidency programme.