The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has unveiled a framework for the UK construction and property industry to transition new and existing buildings to become net zero carbon by 2050, in line with the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The report follows six months of intense industry engagement, involving over 180 experts and stakeholders from across the built environment value chain, and is supported by 13 trade associations and industry bodies including BPF, RICS and RIBA. It provides an overarching 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 approach to decarbonising buildings.
The new framework offers guidance for developers, owners and occupiers targeting net zero carbon buildings, setting out key principles to follow and outlining how such a claim should be measured and evidenced.
Two approaches to net zero carbon are proposed by the framework which can be accurately measured today:
-Net zero carbon – construction: the embodied emissions associated with products and construction should be measured, reduced and offset to achieve net zero carbon.
-Net zero carbon – operational energy: The energy used by the building in operation should be reduced and where possible any demand met through renewable energy. Any remaining emissions from operational energy use should be offset to achieve net zero carbon.
With the report presented as a starting point, the next ten years will see the scope and ambition of the framework increased to encourage greater action. In the short-term, additional requirements will be introduced to challenge the industry, including minimum energy efficiency targets and limits on the use of offsets. In the longer term, the two approaches for construction and operational energy will be integrated into a broader approach for net zero whole life carbon, covering all of the emissions associated with the construction, operation, maintenance and demolition of a building.
The framework definition has been produced under UKGBC's own Advancing Net Zero programme, in line and inspired by the ambitions of WorldGBC's global Advancing Net Zero project. Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A framework definition is available to download here.