A framework outlining how developers, designers, owners, occupiers and policymakers can define and deliver a net-zero built environment has been drawn up by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).
It aims to build consensus on a clearly defined understanding of net zero for the built environment, both in terms of the construction phase and a building’s operational energy use.
The World Green Building Council also has a long-standing commitment to encourage develops, landlords and regional planners to achieve net-zero carbon for operational energy by 2030 and that every building must be ‘net-zero’ carbon by 2050.
The guidelines indentify short-term and long-term ambitions for organisations operating in the built environment. Short-term aspirations and requirements will focus on setting minimum energy efficiency targets and limits on the use of offsets while long-term targets will be established over the next 10 years to increase the scope of the framework to encourage more firms to adopt it.
The UK GBC’s senior policy advisor Richard Twinn said: “The urgency of tackling climate change means that businesses must work together to drive down emissions as fast as possible. But this requires a shared vision for what needs to be achieved and the action that needs to be taken. This framework is intended as a catalyst for the construction and property to build consensus on the low carbon transition and start to work towards consistent and ambitious outcomes.”
The report was launched against a backdrop of calls for a net-zero target to be enshrined into UK law. Considering that the built environment accounts for around 40% of emissions, any net-zero target will likely require transformation in the sector.
Key construction industry stakeholders are also beginning to ask whether the definition of “net-zero” should cover embodied carbon as well as operational emissions.