Perspectives 2019

FEATURES The real estate sector has a long track record of creating sustainability programmes intended to minimise environmental impacts. However, these efforts have often existed quite separately from core business activities – something that will need to change if the sector is to play its part in tackling the global climate crisis. The future is net zero By Julia Butterworth, Associate Director – Energy, Infrastructure & Sustainability EMEA Net-zero target to be legislated In the past six months the UK government has declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ and committed to legislate the UK to a target of net zero emissions by 2050. In parallel, institutions such as the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) have published frameworks for implementation of net zero targets within real estate. 2050 is a long way off and global climate-related risks are immediate. There are conflicting views as to whether this as an end date will be enough. In contrast, the Extinction Rebellion movement have campaigned for the UK’s net zero target to be achieved by 2025. Businesses owning or occupying real estate have an opportunity to act now to make their portfolios resilient and pro-actively address opportunities offered through innovative technology solutions. A number of investors and corporate occupiers are already pushing ahead with programmes to implement net zero buildings across their global portfolios; others will soon be catching up. What is a net zero building? A “net zero building” refers to an asset which is calculated to have zero net emissions, this can be applied through both construction and operations. Focusing on the operational aspect of a building, net-zero can be achieved through prioritising on-site renewable energy, procuring off-site renewable energy and minimising operational energy usage. In addition, the UKGBC’s net-zero framework currently allows for any remaining carbon to be offset – although this allowance is anticipated to be phased out in the short-medium term. PERSPECTIVES 12 FEATURES