Accelerating Green Retrofit Globally at Scale

By Phuong Nguyen, SBU Manager I&E, EDGE Manager, SGS, Asia


Phuong Nguyen


Approximately 75% of the buildings globally in use today are expected to still be in use by 2050. They will all need to be retrofitted as global legislation changes to enable the transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, by 2050.

Older buildings tend to have poorer energy performance and contribute exceptionally high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. There is a real risk that many of these buildings will become unusable or unlettable, as governments make energy and buildings legislation more stringent in the drive to net zero.

Benefits of Building Decarbonization

There are many benefits to decarbonizing existing buildings, from reducing the risk of non-compliance with future legislation to the growing market demand for efficient and healthy buildings. There are also broader corporate sustainability commitments and the drive for improved ESG ratings to attract international finance.

Yet while the impact of existing buildings is significant, many companies avoid decarbonizing their existing building stock because it presents a major challenge, largely due to lack of information, the complication of retrofit and the costs associated with making changes.

EDGE Green Building Certification

That is where EDGE comes in. Whilst green retrofit is a challenge, EDGE provides a pathway for building owners and developers to decarbonize existing buildings.

EDGE is a green building standard and certification scheme that was created by IFC, member of the World Bank Group, to transform the built environment. EDGE is an entirely quantifiable green building standard that focuses exclusively on resource efficiency, in particular: energy efficiency, water efficiency and the embodied energy in materials.

IFC provides free access to the EDGE App, a web-based platform that allows anyone in the world to understand the sustainability performance of a building (or a group of buildings at portfolio level) and compare it to a local benchmark with an easy-to-use interface.

Through the EDGE App, users can identify the different options available for green retrofits and get a sense of the efficiency savings, as well as the financial investment required to implement them. By selecting from a comprehensive list of efficiency measures within the app, users can see how to improve the efficiency of their building compared to a local baseline, as well as the predicted incremental cost and carbon savings. There are local baselines available for every country in the world.

The EDGE App can be used by companies as a strategic tool to understand the overall carbon impact of a portfolio of buildings, develop and cost out a green retrofit strategy, and make strategic investments. With the EDGE App, owners can develop business plans to enable them to access green finance and investment.

Greener Finance

Green finance is playing an increasingly prominent role in the built environment, and particularly for retrofits. It works on the premise that a greener building represents a better investment. Green buildings are more resilient and resistant to the future impact of a changing climate. They will be more attractive to tenants and therefore provide better return with potentially higher rents. Green finance is, therefore, more attractive to both the lender and to the borrower as it reduces and manages risk.

To enable companies to access green finance, EDGE also provides an independent certification to a globally consistent standard that most investors and financiers require. Certification can also be an essential component for corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting. Companies that are reporting progress against targets often need third-party validation to build credibility and trust with stakeholders.

Retrofitting at Scale

While historically there has been concern about retrofitting existing buildings at scale, particularly buildings that are over 10 years old, EDGE makes it possible in a cost-effective and resource-effective way. By offering access to free databases and calculators, as well as a clear list of options on what to improve, EDGE helps building owners to focus on retrofits at scale.

Interested in learning more about EDGE and retrofitting? SGS has developed a white paper in partnership with Sintali to help companies understand how to use EDGE for green retrofits.

For more information

Decarbonising Existing Buildings

Decarbonising Existing Buildings

A Guide to Green Retrofit with EDGE

Access Full White Paper