Framework launched to deliver net-zero built environment
The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched a new framework today (30 April) outlining how developers, designers, owners, occupiers and policymakers can define and deliver a net-zero built environment.
The report, co-sponsored by Berkeley Group, 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 resource outlines short-term and long-term ambitions for organisations 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.
Fortunately, this isn’t the first call for a net-zero approach to be pursued in the sector. Key construction industry stakeholders are beginning to ask whether the definition of “net-zero” should cover embodied carbon as well as operational emissions.
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.
Commenting on the launch of the report, Berkeley Group’s chief executive added: “This framework is an important step towards defining zero carbon buildings and helping the industry understand how they can be delivered.
“We want to help lead this work, which is so important to decarbonising the built environment and protecting our planet for future generations. Sustainability runs through everything we do at Berkeley Group. We have already become a carbon positive business and have committed to creating new homes that can operate at net zero carbon by 2030.”
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There can be little excuse for all new homes not being zero-carbon before the end of this decade, not the next one. It would likely cost much less than Â£10k to achieve this for each house/flat, but it will cost multiples of that, if possible at all, for the millions of homes that will be built in the 11 years until 2030, as they will need to become zero-carbon along with many of the 26 million existing properties.
This approach is purely profit-driven, not climate driven.