Net-zero carbon buildings: The green key to ‘building back better’

29th March 2021

Net-zero carbon buildings have been high on several successive Governments' wish list for at least a decade.

Blake Morgan Construction & Development Partner Richard Wade looks at this in more detail in an article first published in Business Matters Magazine on 22 March.

With climate change and the growing impetus towards net-zero targets, it seems that this issue has never been a greater priority than it is now. The laudable notion of ‘Building Back Better’ strikes a chord with many, particularly in these difficult times when any positive, forward-thinking ambition will get a certain traction.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has identified the barriers to ‘Building the Case for Net-Zero’, and corresponding opportunities.

  • Design – ways to integrate net-zero carbon into the building design or design process. This includes setting net-zero carbon outcomes early in the project’s strategy, inspiring design teams to think innovatively.
  • Cost – ways to finance net-zero carbon buildings. This includes accounting for future ‘brown discounts’ and ‘green premiums’ and a shift in perspective to whole-life investment rather than just immediate capital expenditure.
  • Stakeholder engagement – ways to integrate net-zero carbon into the decision-making process of all stakeholders. This includes identifying growing investor and occupier net-zero ambitions.
  • Innovation – ways of capitalising on new processes, mechanisms, and technologies to achieve net-zero buildings. This includes using new financing mechanisms and alternative building materials.

The problem

The UK’s approach often appears to be to let the ‘market’ find the solution. The problem is, well, the problem itself. The looming crisis is potentially so great that it requires a paradigm shift that can probably only be made from the ‘top down’ (or at least with as much authority as the Government can bestow on bodies with real clout). No-one would argue with the UKGBC’s objectives, but it is only really looking at new projects and, whilst this is part of the challenge, a far more sizeable problem is the state of the current building stock.

In looking to the future, it seems there is a pressing need to address the many shortfalls of the past.

Read the ‘net-zero carbon buildings: the green key to building back better’ article in full here.

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