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Zero carbon building plan launched in Parliament

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has delivered a framework for the UK construction and property industry to transition new and existing buildings to becoming net zero carbon by 2050, to meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

BSRIA is part of the net zero carbon buildings task group which has supported this framework. The task group brings together over 180 experts and stakeholders from across the built environment value chain and is being supported by 13 leading industry bodies.

It offers an all-embracing framework of consistent principles and metrics that can be integrated into tools, policies and practices, and aims to build consensus in the industry on the path to decarbonising buildings.

The new framework recommends guidance for developers, owners and occupiers targeting net zero carbon buildings, setting out key principles to follow and summarising how this goal can be measured and evidenced. 

Two approaches to net zero carbon are suggested. With regards to construction, the embodied emissions associated with products and construction should be measured, reduced and offset to achieve net zero carbon. Second – and in relation to operational energy – the energy used by the building in operation should be reduced and, where possible, demand met through renewable energy. Any remaining emissions from operational energy use should be offset to achieve net zero carbon.

The next decade will see the scope and ambition of the framework increased, in order to boost greater action. In the short term, extra conditions will be introduced to challenge industry, including minimum energy efficiency targets and limits on the use of offsets. 

In the longer term, the two scopes for construction and operational energy will be combined into a wider approach for net zero whole life carbon, covering all the emissions associated with the construction, operation, maintenance and demolition of a building.

Richard Twinn, senior policy advisor at the UKGBC, 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 industry to build consensus on the transition to net zero carbon buildings and start to work towards consistent and ambitious outcomes. It is the first step on a journey towards ensuring all of our buildings are fit for the future.”

Peter Tse, business manager, BSRIA’s Sustainable Construction Group, said: “BSRIA is proud to be involved in the development of this essential net zero carbon buildings framework definition, along with the other built environment experts and stakeholders. 

“The framework vitally provides a clear definition of net zero carbon buildings and direction towards a zero-carbon future.

“This framework challenges the construction and property industry to reassess the way buildings are designed, constructed and run, which requires a cultural change. A verified net zero carbon building for operational energy is based on in-use energy, instead of modelled energy, demonstrating a building’s performance is at net zero carbon. 

“BSRIA’s Soft Landings initiative is an established approach, supporting the industry re-focus towards in-use performance.” 

8 May 2019

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