Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard launches call for evidenceNovember 2022
A cross-industry team with representatives from leading organisations BBP, BRE, the Carbon Trust, CIBSE, IStructE, LETI, RIBA, RICS and UKGBC is currently developing the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard (the “Standard”). Before finalising the Standard, the team has launched a call for evidence to help inform and guide its development, by asking practitioners from the UK construction industry to supply operational energy and embodied carbon performance data for their buildings. Participants will have until 16 December to make their submissions via the Built Environment Carbon Database, which can be found here.
This data will enable the team to devise an agreed definition and methodology for the industry to determine what constitutes a net zero carbon building, i.e. the Standard, as was announced to be their mission in May 2022. The Standard will cover new and existing buildings and will set out performance targets for carbon emitted during construction and operation. It will align with the UK’s two main carbon targets – a 78% reduction of emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050.
Efforts to date in the construction industry to standardise the approach to net zero have been hampered by the lack of an industry wide defined net zero standard for buildings. As we commented on in our article on the NEC Secondary Option X29 (“X29”) recently, it has generally been left to the parties in a construction contract to define net zero, using clauses such as the Climate Change Requirements under X29 or differing definitions and standards.
Similarly, parties have been left to determine the targets that they need to achieve in a construction project from a net zero perspective. X29, for example, provides a regime for measuring compliance with specified performance targets, which if met can be trigger rewards/incentives.
As David Partridge, chair of the Standard’s governance board said, “if the real estate industry and built environment is to seriously address its impact on climate change, a universally adopted Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard is absolutely essential”. The construction sector is currently responsible for 40% of all carbon emissions and having a UK wide Standard will be a step in the right direction for reducing this figure.
The Standard is therefore a welcome initiative which will hopefully clarify the position and create a common understanding between employers, contractors and consultants alike, and eliminate any ambiguities around the measurement of carbon emissions. By incorporating the Standard, when finalised, into construction contracts, parties may be able to take positive steps in reducing the impact of a construction project on the environment. Allowing industry practitioners to get involved in the creation of the Standard should hopefully encourage them to actively try and push for its use. With the call for evidence due to close on 16 December, it is likely that construction professionals will have to wait until the New Year to see the initial draft Standard.Download PDF