Net zero carbon buildings are on the rise. VWV Partner, Andrew Tubbs, considers why this is the case.
What Is a Net Zero Carbon Building?
A building can be described as net zero carbon in two ways: first, in how it is constructed and second, in how it is used:
- A building is net zero carbon in 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'.
- A building is net zero carbon in operation when 'the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building's operational energy on an annual bass 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'.
Why Is This Trending?
The Paris Climate Agreement is arguably the most instrumental development which has led to the rise of net zero carbon building. The Paris Climate Agreement created the foundation which has unified nations across the globe in the fight to tackle the threat of climate change. Since then, many countries have taken action to introduce sustainability regulations into their legislative framework. The UK introduced the Climate Change Act in 2008.
The influence of lobby groups, social media campaigns and increased corporate responsibility have also been significant factors in the drive toward net zero carbon buildings.
Key Developments in the UK
The UK is the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming. Key developments affecting the property sector include:
- The requirement for non-exempt buildings to have a minimum energy performance rating of E (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES))
- The introduction of a mandatory scheme applying to large corporate entities to undertake periodic energy assessments and compliance with recommendations (Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS))
- Duties placed on heat suppliers to work together with consumers to implement cleaner, more efficient heating systems (The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014).
Although the construction of new buildings in the UK can easily take stock of emissions requirements, compliance comes at a cost, and concerns have been raised by landowners tasked with bringing their existing properties in line with sustainability standards.