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UKGBC unveils net zero carbon building framework

Initial guidelines and revised efficiency standards will detail how carbon emissions can be curbed in the construction process and operation of existing and new buildings

A new framework developed through six months of cross industry collaboration will outline new standards for construction groups and building owners focused on managing energy demand to net zero carbon standards.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) said the new framework has been developed to set out clear guidelines for how both new and existing buildings can become zero carbon by 2050 in line with the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.

A new report published by the UKGBC today will mark the start of a ten-year project to expand the scope of the organisation’s work to realise a switch to buildings with no carbon footprint, such as through implementing revised minimum energy efficiency standards.

The organisation said that the framework, “provides an overarching framework of consistent principles and metrics that can be integrated into tools, policies and practices, and aims to build consensus in the industry on the approach to decarbonising buildings.”

Two separate focuses are outlined under the current framework. These programmes look at trying to curb carbon emissions from products used in a building and the construction work itself, as well as rethinking operational energy requirements over the lifetime of a building project.

UKGBC said that the energy use focus in particular would look at areas to reduce demand, while also ensuring that renewable power is used whether possible.

The framework has also backed ensuring that any other carbon emissions from buildings must then be offset.

These separate efforts to rethink the construction process for buildings and how energy is then supplied and managed will be used to form part of a wider push for net zero whole life carbon in new and existing buildings.

The strategy seeks to entirely curb or offset carbon emissions from the construction of a building, through its operation to its demolition.

Richard Twinn, senior policy advisor with the UKGBC, said that a shared vision was needed for the entire construction and building services sector to understand the action required to cut out carbon emissions from a project.

He said, “This framework is intended as a catalyst for the construction and property industry to build consensus on the transition to net zero carbon buildings and start to work towards consistent and ambitious outcomes.”

“It is the first step on a journey towards ensuring all of our buildings are fit for the future.”

A range of private sector organisations and trade associations have supported the framework. These include BSRIA, the Chartered Institute for Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), the Solar Trade Association (STA) and the Good Home Alliance.

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