PRESS RELEASE: UKGBC responds to Government’s Net Zero Strategy & Net Zero Review

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has today responded to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy and Net Zero Review.
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October 20, 2021

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Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC: 

“UKGBC welcomes the publication of the Government’s comprehensive Net Zero Strategy and the final report of the Treasury’s Net Zero Review. Together, they represent a clear commitment by the Government to reaching net zero, securing a just transition and unlocking the wider economic benefits. 

The Net Zero Strategy clearly acknowledges the scale of the challenge ahead, and the significant emissions reductions required from our sector in particular. As distinct from the Heat and Buildings Strategy, we welcome the inclusion of further information on plans to support action intended to improve reporting on embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure, with a view to exploring a maximum level for new builds in the future.

Embodied carbon emissions can make up more than half of the emissions of a building over its entire lifecycle, and our sector clearly has an important role to play in relation to design choices. We believe the industry is ready to take meaningful action, and are therefore calling for a commitment to introduce the regulation on embodied carbon at the building level at the earliest opportunity, starting with mandatory measurement of Whole Life Carbon on large projects, to be followed by the phased introduction of embodied carbon limits for new buildings.

The planning and design of the built environment also has a significant impact on other sectors, such as transport, and we are therefore pleased to see increased investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and the use of nature-based solutions for carbon mitigation. We hope the Government does not miss the opportunity to promote a holistic approach to decarbonisation, resilience and nature restoration through its upcoming planning reforms in England.

Lastly, UKGBC welcomes the conclusion of the Treasury’s Net Zero Review that a successful, orderly transition for the economy will deliver significant benefits – including lower household costs and wider health co-benefits. If these are to be realised, then the Government must work to fill in the blanks in its plans; including support for a large scale domestic retrofit programme and building the associated supply chain, introducing an array of fiscal incentives to support homeowners, and a strong regulatory framework to provide clarity around the trajectory and pace of change required.” 

As part of UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, UKGBC has conducted a major industry-led multi-stakeholder study into the government policies and industry actions required for the UK to achieve net zero carbon in the construction, operation and demolition of buildings and infrastructure. The report includes specific recommendations related to Embodied Carbon. UKGBC’s detailed recommendations for policymakers can be accessed here. 

UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap will be published at the UN’s Climate Change Conference, COP26, on 11th November during Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day. 

UKGBC is one of several European GBCs developing national whole life carbon roadmaps under the #BuildingLife project.  

A copy of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy can be accessed here and a copy of their Net Zero Review can be accessed here.