Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition – 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.
Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework Definition:
- A net zero operational energy carbon balance should be verified and disclosed annually. The energy scope for demonstrating net zero carbon is flexible to enable the decarbonisation of buildings at scale, including for tenancies, multi-building developments, and portfolios.
- Energy use reductions should be prioritised over all other measures, given it is the most cost-effective route for buildings and minimises the infrastructure required for a future zero carbon energy system. ‘Paris proof’ energy use intensity targets will be included in the future.
- On-site renewables should be prioritised, and any off-site renewables should demonstrate additionality. Offsets should be used for any remaining carbon balance, using a recognised offsetting framework.
- Net zero carbon for construction can also be targeted alongside the approach for operational energy. A net zero whole life carbon approach covering all lifecycle impacts will be developed in the future
Supplementary guidance has been provided since the release of the framework in 2019 to be used in conjunction with the original framework.
Methodology and Verification
UKGBC is currently undertaking work on verification. To address the gap in the market, UKGBC in collaboration with other key industry stakeholders conducted market analysis to understand the drivers for and characteristics of a potential verification scheme for net zero carbon buildings. The conclusions indicated a clear market need for a robust, accessible, and transparent verification process as soon as possible.
Upcoming 2022/23 – UKGB is collaborating with industry bodies to respond to the findings of the market analysis, including planning the potential development of an industry-led Net Zero Carbon Buildings Verification Standard – against which built assets could be robustly verified as net zero carbon.