Zero Carbon Non-Domestic Buildings\

The UKGBC launched their report on achieving zero carbon non-domestic buildings by 2019 on Thursday 27th February. Claire Goldthorp and I were at the event.

The main messages were:

• A green economy has wider economic benefits to the UK than can be represented by a simple energy saving calculation

• The development of a certain and predictable policy roadmap to 2019 and beyond is necessary

• Certainty of policy and energy targets will allow designers, developers and manufacturers to invest in the right areas of R&D to encourage innovation

• This will develop knowledge that can be exported to other countries ahead of the EU zero carbon target legislation in 2020

• The definition of zero carbon to 2019 should reflect that developed for the residential sector and consulted on during Autumn 2013

• Part L should continue to control regulated energy under the influence of the design team, but this should also include lifts and escalators, which are currently exempt

• Other areas of legislation should be strengthened to ensure building users manage energy efficiently such as the CRC and DECs

• A Zero-Carbon Hub for Non Domestic sector should be set up to drive the process

There was discussion about how embodied carbon should be taken into account as it accounts for 20-50% of the total emissions of the building. It was noted that the UK assesses their built environment differently to Europe as we measure carbon emissions, which then allows embodied carbon information to be plugged into calculations whereas the policy recommendations from Europe focus on the reduction of energy use only.

Our own opinion is that that although the recommendations are not ground-breaking they are sensible as they are in line with that for the residential sector and, if implemented, will lead to a joined up policy towards zero carbon building. Our reservations remain regarding the exact definition of Allowable Solutions as reported in a previous blog, but we will wait and see when the results from the previous consultation are published. The report and a supporting letter has been sent to government with endorsement from UKGBC members including architects, developers and manufacturers. Ministers were also present at the launch. More discussion will take place during the UKGBC seminars at EcoBuild 2014.

The report and executive summary can be downloaded here.

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