Big-name businesses collaborate to form task group for net-zero buildings

A number of the biggest companies within the UK's built environment sector, including JLL, Landsec and Wilmott Dixon, have jointly formed a new task group aimed at creating an industry-led framework for net-zero buildings.

Launched on Wednesday (28 November) and convened by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the group will see representatives from the coalition of companies examine and debate what the term “net-zero carbon” should mean for new buildings in the UK.

Specifically, the group will debate whether carbon-neutral construction and supply chains should be a requirement for a building to be classed as net-zero, in addition to direct operational emissions.

“The construction and property industry is ready to make its contribution to the Paris Climate Agreement and start delivering net-zero carbon buildings, but there is still a lack of clarity about what a net-zero carbon building means in practice,” UKGBC’s policy director Richard Twinn said.

“We are therefore seeking to create an agreed, industry-led definition for net-zero carbon buildings in the UK, to ensure we are all working towards the same outcomes.”

The group has been set up by UKGBC in a bid to move the industry from discussing specific tools and policies in an abstract manner, to taking ambitious action to achieve “genuine” carbon-neutrality, Twinn added.

In total, the task group consists of representatives from 30 companies, including housebuilders, local authorities, real estate management firms and consultancies.

It has additionally received financial support from 11 trade associations, non-profits and industry bodies, including the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the British Property Federation (BPF).

An industry consultation on the task group’s proposals will open in February 2019, with UKGBC hoping to publish the finalised definition later in the spring.

Building a low-carbon future

The launch of the task group comes after the World Green Buildings Council (WGBC) this summer made its first call for businesses and policymakers to eliminate carbon emissions for building portfolios by 2030, in order to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

The call to action came shortly after Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to halve the energy use from new buildings by 2030 and to halve the energy costs from the existing building stock – both domestically and commercially. Heat and power for buildings currently account for 40% of national energy usage.

More recently, the Government published its £420m construction sector deal, outlining a course for halving building energy use and emissions by 2030. 

Progress towards decarbonisation in the business community has also gathered pace in recent months, with edie’s own Sector Insight report concluding that almost two-thirds of businesses operating in the construction industry are now more committed to taking action on sustainability than they were 12 months ago.

Sarah George

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