Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework

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.
Image of Manchester skyline to reflect their commitment to going net zero carbon by 2030


January 19, 2022


Research & Innovation



UKGBC published the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework Definition in 2019 to provide the industry with clarity on how to achieve net zero carbon buildings. Given the evolving nature of guidance on this topic, it was intended to be built on over time – the reason why it was titled a ‘framework’.

Since 2019, UKGBC has published four key pieces of additional guidance which complement the original framework. These pieces of guidance strengthen the framework, typically with additional technical requirements and, in some instances, supersede the high-level guidance within the original framework.

The below table sets out how UKGBC’s four additional pieces of guidance should be applied in conjunction with the original framework. The individual reports should be referred to in full to understand the latest on net zero buildings – links are provided below.

Please note, UKGBC is currently assessing the Framework in light of emerging research and guidance on net zero carbon buildings, and are planning to release some clarifications around commonly asked questions. This is in part due to the development of a UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard, which UKGBC is involved in and will eventually supersede certain elements of the original Framework, as well as emerging industry guidance such as the Whole Life Carbon Network’s carbon definitions.

To remain up-to-date, please visit the Advancing Net Zero homepage or email us at 

April 2019 [link]

The landmark UKGBC report on net zero carbon buildings from which additional pieces of guidance have developed.

Original guidance on:

1.      Establishing scope

2.      Reducing construction impacts

3.      Reducing operational energy use

4.      Increasing renewable energy supply

5.      Offsetting any remaining carbon

6.      Public disclosure

September 2019 [link]

One-page guide setting out the 10 key features required for a new building aiming to achieve net zero carbon for operational energy.

Additional guidance on:

- Levels of energy performance expected for new residential, office and school buildings

January 2020 [link]

Update to include more stretching requirements for new and existing offices claiming net zero.

Additional guidance on:

- Levels of energy performance expected for new and existing offices, with a trajectory up until 2035.

March 2021 [link]

Update on the levels of building performance expected for net zero claims, encouraging a leadership approach.

Additional guidance on:

- Interim upfront embodied carbon and energy performance targets.

March 2021 [link]

Major update on the procurement of high-quality renewable energy and carbon offsets.

Additional guidance on:

- No fossil fuel consumption (primary energy) for new buildings, with replacement plan for existing.

- Procurement of renewable energy and offsets.

- Minimum reporting templates, latest version available here.

Additionally, this resource list identifies a growing array of supplementary guidance developed by UKGBC and others in the industry that can be used as further detailed guidance to what’s included in the table above.