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Net zero carbon: UKGBC releases new energy performance targets for offices

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published new energy performance targets for commercial offices that are aiming to achieve net zero carbon in operation.

Following direct engagement with industry and analysis of the projected zero carbon energy capacity of the UK, UKGBC is recommending that the offices sector should reduce energy demand by an average of 60 per cent by 2050 to help the UK achieve net zero.

The targets were developed as an addition to UKGBC’s landmark 2019 report ‘Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition’, which sets out guidance for buildings seeking to achieve net zero for construction and operational energy. They have been developed in collaboration with Verco, Better Buildings Partnership and BPF, with support from Arup, Carbon Intelligence, JLL UK and TfL.

Details of the new energy performance targets are set out in a short paper and include a trajectory of targets starting from current best practice with tightening targets every five years up to 2035. By this date, all offices aiming to be net zero should be operating at the energy performance standards that will be needed by 2050.

According to the UKGBC, offices seeking zero carbon for operational energy should first meet the energy performance targets, then meet demand as far as possible through renewable energy and finally offset any remaining carbon. This data should then be independently verified and publicly disclosed on an annual basis to demonstrate how the net zero balance has been achieved.

Richard Twinn, Senior Policy Advisor at UKGBC said: “At the start of the decade of action, the most important action that the building sector can take is to drive down energy demand. This will be crucial to decarbonising our energy systems in the most cost-effective way, and ensuring that buildings only use their ‘fair share’ of energy in a net zero carbon economy.

“The net zero carbon buildings framework was introduced to bring consistency about what net zero carbon means in practice. The industry is already starting to use the framework to meet net zero, but these targets will begin to raise the bar for offices, placing much greater emphasis on energy efficiency before renewable energy and offsets. They will challenge the offices sector and show the way towards buildings that are truly fit for 2050.”

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