UKGBC unveils renewable energy sourcing guidelines for the built environment

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched new guidance on renewable energy procurement for stakeholders in the built environment, in a bid to accelerate the transition to a resilient and decarbonised electricity grid.

UKGBC unveils renewable energy sourcing guidelines for the built environment

This report primarily targets professionals responsible for procuring energy for commercial buildings and businesses, such as corporate procurement teams.

However, the Council claims that it can also benefit individuals engaged in building design, delivery, or operation, including energy system designers, renewable energy producers and energy brokers/suppliers.

UKGBC has identified three key principles that define good quality renewable electricity procurement including renewable, additionality and time-matched.

UKGBC’s climate action head Yetunde Abdul said: “Our guidance provides industry with the much-needed tools to better understand their procurement options, benchmark the performance of their building’s electricity strategy, and effectively engage with energy suppliers to make more informed decisions.”

Challenges and recommendations

The report notes that with more renewables and consumer-connected energy sources present today, the energy sector has a two-way flow, making energy supply-demand balance challenging.

It further highlights that the shift from flexible gas turbines to intermittent renewables also strains the grid, and while low-carbon solutions like energy storage help, sometimes fossil fuels are still used to fill the supply-demand gaps.

The built environment sector is accountable for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, amounting to 14.4 metric gigatons of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) annually.

Moreover, construction and building operations contribute to approximately 26% of all GHG emissions and 37% of combustion-related emissions.

CBRE’s renewable energy associate director Rebekah Needham said: “Moving towards a decarbonised electricity system and the procurement of renewable energy is a collective responsibility, since the procurement decisions made by one party – such as a landlord or occupier – can directly impact the decarbonisation progress made by the other.”

The report urges stakeholders to prioritise renewable sources of energy by ensuring that 100% of imported grid electricity matches UK generator Renewable Electricity Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs).

Additionally, it recommends opting for the ‘deep green’ tariff/supply contracts from energy suppliers when importing electricity.

To ensure onsite renewable generation and flexibility, the report calls on the stakeholders to assess the potential benefits of energy storage to enhance onsite electricity consumption, while considering factors such as embodied carbon.

The guidance also includes maximising onsite solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in alignment with the UK Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Standard targets, and prioritising power purchase agreements (PPAs) with new or repowered unsubsidised renewable generators, specifically those less than three years old and owned by companies actively investing in new renewable assets.

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