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Net Zero Buildings

Achieving Net Zero in the building sector requires consideration of both construction and operations. Based on the World Green Building Council, construction and operations are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world. While new construction involves emissions which may require offsets, new builds and refurbishments offer an opportunity to lock in net zero operations for years to come, making building companies critical players in helping to achieve Net Zero. 

Existing coordinated efforts to achieve net zero in the buildings sector:

The World Green Buildings Council has set a global project to promote and support the acceleration of net zero carbon buildings to 100% by 2050.  UKGBC has developed a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings to provide the industry with clarity on how to achieve net zero carbon in construction and operation, defined as the following: 

For construction: “When the amount of carbon emissions associated with a building’s product and construction stages up to practical completion is zero or negative, through the use of offsets or the net export of on-site renewable energy

For operation: “When the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative. A net zero carbon building is highly energy efficient and powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources, with any remaining carbon balance offset.”

Zero Carbon Buildings for All is an initiative that was announced at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit and includes national and local policies to make new buildings 100% zero carbon by 2030 and existing buildings by 2050. As part of the announcement, multilateral development banks and private financial institutions committed to provide technical support and to align their financing for buildings with the Paris Agreement – with a goal of mobilizing $1 trillion in “Paris Compliant” buildings investments in developing countries by 2030.

The Green Finance Institute hosts a Coalition for Energy Efficiency of Buildings (CEEB)  which brings together finance experts, local and national governments, heavy industry representatives, academics, and citizens to develop a stronger market for net-zero and climate-resilient buildings in the UK.