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Transitioning to Net Zero for the Built Environment 

by Shoosmiths LLP

Published: November, 2021

Submission: November, 2021

 



We are very excited to be supporting the UN Global Compact Network UK’s ‘Transitioning to a Net Zero’ webinar series.


The webinar in the series, ‘Transitioning to Net Zero for the Built Environment’ took place on Thursday, 23 September 2021 and featured guest speakers:


The key takeaway points are set out below along with the webinar recording:


  • The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is working on an economy-wide net zero standard to be released ahead of COP26.
  • The Built Environment sector has a significant role to play in the net zero transition as it is directly responsible for 27% of UK emissions (on a consumption basis).
  • Radical collaboration is key for the Built Environment sector to successfully transition to net zero. Increased engagement in initiatives such as the Race to Zero campaign and The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment will facilitate this collaboration.
    • The Built Environment is an underrepresented sector in the Race to Zero campaign, reinforcing the need for greater action.
    • At COP26, on 11th November, there will be a day dedicated to cities, regions, and the Built Environment.
  • Reducing supply chain emissions is a key challenge for Built Environment businesses.
    • Lydia Parnell (Global Corporate Responsibility Lead, Turner and Townsend) spoke about Turner and Townsend’s use of sustainable procurement and the implementation of a ‘supplier charter’, which asks suppliers to report on their emissions reductions and tangibly demonstrate the actions they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint. She also noted that their role as a large, multinational business is to help SME suppliers increase their net zero ambition and ensure they understand industry expectations.
    • Fernanda Amemiya (Sustainability Director, Landsec) noted that Landsec engage their suppliers very early in the building and construction planning process, and provide them with a Materials Brief which contains requirements for low carbon impact materials. For example, it outlines a preference for materials with Cradle-to-Cradle certification or a minimum recycled content percentage. Landsec also encourage suppliers to engage with net zero initiatives such as STEELZERO.
  • Decarbonisation in the steel industry will play a significant role in reducing embodied carbon in buildings. Emissions reductions are expected by increasing the production of hydrogen-based steel and investing in technology to decarbonise existing production methods.
  • Less than 5% of the UK’s buildings are currently net zero, so retrofitting existing structures is critical in the sector’s transition to net zero.
    • Currently, the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) methodology does not accurately reflect the operational energy use of buildings. BEIS hopes to address this issue next year with a proposed requirement for office buildings over 1000m2 to publicly disclose their operational energy usage, reported in kWh/m2. This would set a policy framework for the Government to implement minimum performance standards or fiscal incentives.
  • Nature-based Solutions will play a part in the Built Environment’s transition to net zero. This can be done effectively by considering the UK Green Building Council’s Principles for Delivering Urban Nature-based Solutions during the implementation process. Nature should be seen as a key and primary stakeholder in the sector’s transition.

Resources referenced during the event:

 



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