Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Industry Says: "End Zero Carbon Uncertainty"

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Written by Rebecca Pearce
EMEA Head of Sustainability, CBRE

Uncertainty was the key issue highlighted at the UKGBC's launch of the Zero Carbon Non Domestic Task Group's final report last week. Task group members from consultant, developer and manufacturing backgrounds alike called on the government to urgently reconfirm the requirement for all new buildings to achieve zero carbon status from 2019. This would provide certainty to all sectors of the real estate industry and support investment and training around new technologies and materials. Apart from the obvious emissions reduction outcomes from such a policy, economic growth and enhanced competitiveness for British industry were highlighted as key benefits.

The report supports the use of the building regulations to define and enforce zero carbon for new construction but also calls for a roadmap to be developed with iterative carbon reduction targets to allow the industry to adjust and work towards the ultimate goal for 2019 (only 5 years away), and the opportunity for an non SBEM strategy for simple buildings (subject to further investigation). This would avoid moving goalposts, disruptive abortive work & uncertainty for developers and design teams. What is not clear is how to drive performance outside the scope of the Part L - i.e. in Scotland and Northern Ireland- for what is purported to be UK government policy.

A need to consider "allowable solutions" through offsite renewables and carbon reduction activities was acknowledged, with a call for a non-domestic policy to be developed to sit alongside the domestic buildings policy currently under consideration by government following consultation in 2013. The roll out of Allowable Solutions was also raised, with the view that it should be nationally led and the income spent locally. Other issues noted for future consideration (post 2019)  were the inclusion of "unregulated" loads from occupation (e.g. plugs loads) and embodied carbon in an evolving whole of building zero carbon definition.
In closing the morning the UKGBC's CEO Paul King noted the need for partnership across industry to work with government, to support smart regulation and encourage economic recovery & growth. That has got to be a good thing.

UKGBC's Zero Carbon Non Domestic Task Group report is available here

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