In 2019, the UK committed to an ambitious target of hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In order to reach that goal, it has been recognised that there needs to be a huge shift in the construction industry when designing and building new developments. 

With questions on how we achieve net zero carbon in construction, I attended a webinar hosted by Women in Property on coordinated action across construction, with a focus on building services and renewables technology to support achieving net zero carbon targets. 

Here are my 5 key takeaways from the presentation by Lewis Hunter, David Coulter and Julie Murphy of BakerHicks: 

1. Net carbon zero - according to the World Green Building Council, a net zero carbon building is a building that is highly energy efficient and fully powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources. In order to achieve this goal, we need to look at the energy sources powering the development but, importantly, the property needs to be designed to be as energy efficient as possible. 

2. Requirements will become more onerous - as we approach the deadline for net zero compliance, it is anticipated that building regulations and industry standards will become stricter. The goal now is to not just build within the current guidelines, but to get as close to net zero as possible in anticipation of the future. 

3. Early design integration - the design requirements for an energy efficient building must be considered from the very outset of a project. The full design team need to be integrating efficiency in to every element of the project, from the site position and form of the building to the anticipated ventilation. Making properties energy efficient is significantly more successful when all parties commit to detailed design from the outset. 

4. Construction - once the detailed design is calculated to provide an efficient building, it is then vital for a skilled contractor to meticulously carry out the project. Airtightness and fabric performance are key to energy performance, therefore workmanship and a contractor's supply chain need to be carefully managed to ensure the project is successful. 

5. Handover - with increasingly complex internal systems and likely ongoing efficiency checks, a thorough handover to occupiers will be required. It has long been the case that buildings can be more efficient if systems are effectively used and maintained, but occupiers are often either unaware or unsure how to do so. With the new generation of energy efficient buildings, end user training will be key to supporting behavioural change so the property is used and maintained in optimal condition. 

As an increasing number of projects are being procured with sustainability at the heart of the design, it is becoming more common to find the expertise required to fulfil these projects. As time goes on, we will need to see a significant increase in capacity in order to meet the net zero targets, but there is a huge will within the industry to move in the right direction. 

For further commentary, please visit Forsters LLP's dedicated Sustainability Hub where you will find expert insights on how sustainability considerations are shaping our advice to clients in the Private Client, Real Estate, Tax, Banking and Corporate sectors.