A cross-industry steering group, representing stakeholders across the built environment, have come together to develop a standard for verifying UK buildings as net-zero carbon.
The UKGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Roadmap demonstrates that buildings are directly responsible for around a quarter of carbon emitted by the UK.
There is therefore no credible pathway, the group says, to net-zero for the UK economy without tackling emissions associated with the construction and operation of our buildings.
They say that, whilst significant progress has been made in defining what ‘net zero’ means for buildings in the UK, a process of market analysis showed a clear demand for a single, agreed methodology.
The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard aims to enable industry to prove its built assets are net-zero carbon and in line with the UK’s climate targets.
The Standard will cover both new and existing buildings and will set out performance targets addressing operational energy and embodied carbon emissions to align with the UK’s 2035 and 2050 emissions targets (78% reduction and net zero respectively).
It will also cover the procurement of renewable energy and the treatment of residual emissions, including carbon offsetting.
It will be for anyone who wants to fund, procure, design, specify, or occupy a net zero carbon building and anyone wanting to demonstrate that their building is net zero-aligned with an industry-agreed standard.
The group are seeking support from stakeholders across the industry to deliver elements of the Standard.
The group intends to consult on work at various stages of its development, with work commencing in July.
Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO of BBP, said: “A UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will be critical for asset owners and managers to evidence that their buildings are built and operating in line with climate science.
“An industry wide Standard will enable stakeholders including investors and occupiers to differentiate between assets that are ‘net zero’ and those that are not.
“It will take radical collaboration to deliver this project. We look forward to contributing the insights of the BBP’s members and working with other organisations to create a standard around which the industry can coalesce.”
Dr Shamir Ghumra, head of Building Performance Services, BRE said: “The pace of change needed in the built environment on this issue is getting more significant by the day; this leading group of organisations from across the spectrum of our sector coming together to collaborate in this way is testament to the sense of urgency we all have.
“Building consensus on this topic is going to bring together all stakeholders and supply chain organisations in a common consistent framework which will itself generate greater efficiencies in the marketplace.”
Dominic Burbridge, director at the Carbon Trust, said: “We look forward to contributing to the development of this highly impactful standard, which will be instrumental in guiding the UK real estate industry, the construction sector and the wider built environment, in the rapid and urgent transition towards net-zero.
“Addressing the energy demand of the built environment and the associated emissions is a key driver in accelerating the move to a sustainable, decarbonised future and we are excited to be supporting such an important and pioneering initiative.”
Kevin Mitchell, CIBSE president and Mott McDonald Global Practice leader, Building Services Engineering, said: “CIBSE is delighted to be contributing our expertise to support this important initiative on net-zero.
“It is urgently needed to deliver a clear standard to demonstrate real outcomes and give trust to clients, owners and occupiers.
“We look forward to working with the wide range of parties committed to deliver the standard.”
IStructE chief executive Martin Powell said: “The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will enable individual projects, and thus the wider industry, to understand our progress in creating buildings with net zero emissions.
“I am pleased that the Institution of Structural Engineers will be supporting the development of this important new Standard.”
Clara Bagenal George, LETI, said: “Not only will this project deliver much needed clarity on how to verify net-zero carbon buildings in the UK, but it also brings together key organisations that have been working in this space, to create a robust, industry-led UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard, created through consensus and collaboration based on science.”
RIBA president Simon Allford said: “This is a really exciting and timely initiative that will help the entire industry to move forward in its efforts to reach net-zero carbon.
“Working together we will address current ambiguities around the much-used term and develop a common understanding, based on clear performance targets, to support all those involved in the procurement, design, construction and operation of buildings.”
Richard Collins, interim CEO of RICS, said: “Measurement and analysis play a fundamental role in progressing sustainability initiatives against targets.
“The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will provide independent verification that a new or existing building that claims to be net zero, stands up to that claim.
“It will provide essential data for a range of decision makers. This is a big step forward to net zero and RICS and its members look forward to providing this key data that will support the UK’s transition to a decarbonised economy.”
Julie Hirigoyen, CEO of UKGBC, said: “The Standard will leverage the invaluable data behind UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the Built Environment to establish performance targets which are aligned with science-based trajectories as a vital step towards our industry’s transition to net-zero.
“UKGBC looks forward to working with industry on the development of this Standard to underpin the credibility of all future net zero carbon building claims.”
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