BLOG: Why I’m calling for all UKGBC members to sign up to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment

UKGBC’s, Chief Executive, Julie Hirigoyen, explains how the Commitment helps put businesses on the path to net zero
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August 10, 2020

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One thing the pandemic hasn’t stalled is the momentum behind net zero carbon. From national laws to company targets and product marketing plans, the concept of net zero carbon has truly taken off. And with COP26’s Race to Zero campaign rolling out across the world, we can expect to see hundreds more businesses, cities, regions and nations setting ambitious dates for their net zero targets in the run up to this milestone event taking place in Glasgow in November 2021.

There are some aspects that all organisations with a net zero target will have to address – renewable energy procurement, energy efficiency, and transport for example. All UKGBC members will no doubt be aware of the crucial role that buildings can play in tackling energy efficiency so it should come as no surprise that there’s now a corporate commitment specifically designed to stimulate market demand for net zero carbon buildings. WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment should become a cornerstone for any organization that is serious about taking climate action, and it’s a specific pathway to achieving EP100, which is just one of the high profile and rapidly growing suite of climate-leading business commitments under We Mean Business.

By signing the WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (hereafter referred to as The Commitment) an organisation commits to only occupying spaces or buildings, and/or developing buildings, that operate at net zero carbon emissions by 2030. For all organisations, this means spearheading energy efficiency and a complete shift to renewable energy for building areas under their direct control by 2030, and compensating for any small amounts of fossil fuels they may still rely on by then, if necessary. For developers, it means committing to deliver buildings that are highly energy efficient and can be fully-powered by renewable energy by 2030.

UKGBC’s 450+ members that span the whole of the UK’s property and construction supply chain are leading the charge when it comes to planning, designing, building, operating, financing, maintaining or equipping net zero carbon buildings. So, by definition, if market demand grows rapidly for net zero carbon buildings, our members will derive value and benefit. And what better way of growing the market than leading by example – practising what you preach! Which is why I’m asking for ALL UKGBC members to join UKGBC and dozens of other organisations worldwide in signing up today to the WorldGBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment).

If you need more reasons why this is such a good idea, read on. If you’re already convinced, sign up here!

Five key reasons why every UKGBC member should sign up to the WorldGBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

  1. Add credibility and profile to your existing climate commitments
    If your organisation already has corporate emissions reduction targets, science-based, net zero, carbon neutral or other, the Commitment is a means of achieving these that will raise your profile on a global stage. The analysis here illustrates its compatibility with wide-ranging existing targets and third-party corporate commitments. Like most credible initiatives, the Commitment requires disclosure and verification of underlying energy and carbon data, alongside energy action plans to demonstrate continued improvement. Signatories are listed on the websites of We Mean Business, The Climate Group, and WorldGBC, as well as being included on UKGBC’s Climate Commitment Platform.
  2. Improve your bottom line
    Net zero carbon buildings can yield long-term positive financial returns, create health and wellbeing benefits outside of reducing emissions, and play a critical role in accelerating the industry innovation and investment needed to meet the UK’s 2050 net zero target. Conversely, businesses that don’t act now in transitioning their assets to a net zero carbon economy risk sitting on ‘stranded assets’ before long, and evidence suggests early preventive action is far less costly than leaving it all until a future date.
  3. Contribute to a green recovery from COVID-19
    Retrofitting existing buildings has been repeatedly called for as part of green recovery plans, because energy efficiency improvement works sustain and create jobs and livelihoods all around the country. By signing up to the Commitment, signatories stimulate the global market for building energy efficiency and thereby help governments with the challenging and critical task of economic recovery during the pandemic.
  4. Learn from others and expand your network
    UKGBC convenes a dedicated Forum for the Commitment signatories in its membership to network, collaborate and share lessons learnt. This is a solutions focused space for peer-to-peer learning where signatories come together to tackle their most pressing challenges in achieving a net zero carbon built environment. Quarterly meetings as well as smaller member-led sessions are held, each focusing on a topic decided upon by the signatories.

    Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment Forum

  5. Treat this as the first rung on a ladder to climate leadership
    The basic tenet of the Commitment is for organisations to eliminate the emissions associated with building areas under their direct control. For built environment businesses, the emissions from their own building areas are likely to be dwarfed compared to those under the control of their customers and suppliers. To tackle these emissions, signatories are encouraged to set leading advocacy commitments to drive out carbon up and down their value chain. This has led to developers tackling the embodied carbon of new construction, designers providing clients with net zero design options on every project, and property managers helping tenants to reduce their energy use, amongst others. Indeed, the Commitment will soon be expanded to address some of these issues so why not get ahead of the game and gain first mover advantage?

UKGBC will be actively profiling all UK  signatories to the Commitment in the lead up to, and at COP26. In fact we’re hosting an event for members and Government Ministers on 22 September 2020, during World Green Building Week, where we will formally announce new signatories to the Commitment. So I’d love to see lots of UKGBC members signing up before this date so we can provide a platform for them to demonstrate their climate leadership at this pivotal moment in time.

Sign up here to WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.