What does 'net zero' mean for buildings?

Well, it is a complex question and requires consideration be given to in-use energy and embodied carbon across the whole lifecycle of a building. The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard has been established by a number of built environment organisations, including RIBA, RICS and The Carbon Trust, to provide an answer. 

The new standard has as its stated aim to become the single, agreed methodology to define what ‘net zero’ means for buildings and allow the industry to prove their built assets are net zero and in line with the UK’s climate targets. To do this it will set out metrics by which net zero carbon performance is evaluated, as well as performance targets, or limits, that need to be met. It will also cover the approach to carbon accounting, procuring renewable energy, and the treatment of residual emissions, including carbon offsetting. 

The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard enters an already crowded market place, with a number of green building accreditations already available. However, we should welcome any tool which makes ESG decisions easier and the environmental impact of buildings more transparent.