Five practical steps towards achieving the ‘Advancing Net Zero’ goals

In last month’s blogs we looked at the Advancing Net Zero initiative from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), and its initial objective of all new buildings operating at net zero carbon by 2030. Beyond that point, it is advocating for a market transformation towards 100% net zero carbon buildings by 2050 (1).

Given that the second objective also corresponds with the EU’s carbon neutrality target, it is clear that the WorldGBC framework is going to be the one that many groups work to implement. But that doesn’t prevent it from feeling like a daunting task – especially if you are a company with a large workforce that needs to keep a close eye on the bottom line.

With this in mind we present five practical steps for companies who want to commit to Advancing Net Zero but are unsure where to start…

1) Never underestimate the importance of the construction and operational phases.

According to the WorldGBC, operational emissions account for 28% of all carbon emissions in the world, while building and construction are responsible for 39% (2). Hence it follows that as well as engaging a builder with a track-record in eco-friendly construction, it is also important to use more sustainable materials wherever possible.

2) Work with consultants and specialists who have a deep knowledge of carbonisation.

"Satisfying the World Green Building Council’s net zero carbon commitment can seem daunt-ing, but with the right technologies it becomes a lot more achievable", writes Priva’s Gavin Holvey.

Until recently, energy reduction specialists would often be brought into a project when it had advanced to a point whereby some options had already been closed off. But whilst there is now a general acceptance that building technology specialists should be involved from day one, it is still vital to identify the best consultants.

Things to look out for include expertise with different technologies; alignment with industry initiatives, including Advancing Net Zero; and a solid track-record of successful projects.

3) Make sure that you have energy-efficient building systems.

Selecting the most energy efficient core building technologies can make a massive difference to the carbon footprint of a building. From air filtration and cooling systems to heating infra-structure that is equipped with the best type of insulation – there is huge potential to make savings here.

But with the number of options and the complexity of systems increasing, it’s can be hard to make the right choices. This is another reason, then, to work with a specialist who can navigate a course to find the best solutions in each case.

4) Invest in a Building Management System (BMS).

A well-specified BMS can be a vital asset in managing energy demand. Now commonly installed in facilities with extensive mechanical, HVAC and electrical systems, BMSs provide overarching control and monitoring. As a result they allow technical managers to keep a close eye on a building’s performance and identify potential problems at an early stage.

These systems’ monitoring and analysis functions have also become increasingly powerful, making it easier to identify further opportunities to save energy.

5) Commit to long-term support and maintenance agreements.

Once an installation has been completed it is vital to have a specialist onboard via long-term support agreements. Not only will they ensure that possible problems are detected early, they will also be able to advise on new technologies that could enable further savings.

No one has ever said it would be easy, but with a pragmatic series of steps the Advancing Net Zero goals start to seem much more reachable.

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Sources:

(1) World Green Building Council: New report: the building and construction sector can reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, https://www.worldgbc.org/news-media/WorldGBC-embodied-carbon-report-published

(2) Designing buildings: Carbon dioxide in construction, https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_construction