16 January 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) is recommending that the office sector should reduce its energy demand by an average of 60 per cent by 2050 to help the UK achieve net zero carbon.
The targets were developed as an addition to UKGBC's 2019 report Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition, which sets out guidance for buildings seeking to achieve net zero for construction and operational energy.
They have been developed in collaboration with Verco, Better Buildings Partnership and BPF, with support from Arup, Carbon Intelligence, JLL UK and TfL.
These new energy targets represent more stretching requirements for commercial offices claiming net zero in operation and set out a trajectory of tightening energy performance requirements over the next 15 years.
Offices seeking zero carbon for operational energy should first meet the energy performance targets, then meet demand as far as possible through renewable energy and finally offset any remaining carbon. This data should then be independently verified and publicly disclosed annually to demonstrate how the net-zero balance has been achieved.
Richard Twinn, senior policy advisor at UKGBC, said: "At the start of the decade of action, the most important action that the building sector can take is to drive down energy demand. This will be crucial to decarbonising our energy systems in the most cost-effective way, and ensuring that buildings only use their 'fair share' of energy in a net zero carbon economy.
"The net zero carbon buildings framework was introduced to bring consistency about what net zero carbon means in practice. The industry is already starting to use the framework to meet net zero, but these targets will begin to raise the bar for offices, placing much greater emphasis on energy efficiency before renewable energy and offsets. They will challenge the offices sector and show the way towards buildings that are truly fit for 2050."
Details of the energy performance targets are set out in a short paper published this week by UKGBC. It includes a trajectory of targets starting from current best practice with tightening targets every five years up to 2035. By this date, all offices aiming to be net zero should be operating at the energy performance standards that will be needed by 2050.