UK-based sustainable stone wool insulation manufacturer ROCKWOOL Group, Australian project managers Lendlease and engineering firm Integral Group – which operates in the US, Canada and the UK – all announced their support for the World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) Advancing Net Zero project last week (2 February).

The Advancing Net Zero project calls on participants to strive for a net zero building stock by 2050, in line with the targets of the Paris Agreement. The three firms will now fund and develop building stock projects with the aims of the project at the forefront of construction methods.

WGBC’s chief executive Terri Wills said: “Our Advancing Net Zero project continues to grow and expand its international impact day by day.

“The support of major companies such as Integral Group, Lendlease and ROCKWOOL demonstrates the huge appetite amongst businesses to design, build, invest in and operate net zero buildings. We’ve started to pave the path towards net zero and there’s no turning back until every building gets there before 2050.”

The three firms are the first private sector companies to support the initiative, which was launched at the Business and Climate Summit in London, in June 2016. Joining the firms is the project’s new funding partner the Blackstone Ranch Institute, which specialises in funding high-impact environment projects.

So far, 11 of WGBC’s 74 Green Building Councils including councils in Brazil, the US and the United Arab Emirates have signed up to the project to support the private sector.

Under the project, Green Building Councils will launch national zero-carbon certification programmes, either as standalones or ones that latch onto exiting rating schemes. Councils will be required to train the sector for green building specifications and support the development of suitable projects.

The project puts into action many of the commitments pledged by WGBC at the Paris Climate conference in 2015. These pledges include a 2030 target for ensuring that all new buildings and major renovations are net zero. By 2050, the entire building stock should be renovated to net zero standards, with 300,000 professionals trained on the subject in that timeframe.

Lock, stock and green building troubles

WGBC claims that buildings are responsible for more than 30% of global emissions, and the organisation will introduce aspects of the project to green building councils that don’t run market certification programmes in 2017. For the 11 signed-up councils, a pilot version of the project will be ready for implementation in January 2018.

Lendlease was recently advocated for its “leading sustainability strategies” by the UK Green Building Council. The organisation’s report praised certain building firms for demonstrating that building high quality developments are “core to what they do”.

Commenting on the WGBC’s project support, Lendlease’s group head of sustainability Geoff Dutaillis said: “We are proud to be at the forefront of positioning both our funds and development projects to meet investor and tenant demand for high performance green buildings.”

WGBC has previously anticipated that the number of companies that have more than 60% of their building projects certified ‘green’ will more than double over the next two years. However, London’s ‘quantity over quality’ approach to building stock could see it lose its position as a leading region in green building development.

Matt Mace

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