By 2050 all buildings will have zero impact on the climate, thanks to a combination of energy efficiency measures and clean energy generation.
That is the vision of a major new project from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), which yesterday announced plans to rapidly accelerate the trend towards ‘net zero’ certified buildings.
Entitled Advancing Net Zero, the project will initially see Green Building Councils from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden work with NGO Architecture 2030 to develop net zero certification standards and promote building technologies and techniques that drastically reduce emissions across the construction and property sectors.
Terri Wills, CEO of WorldGBC, said the project builds on the commitment made by 74 Green Building Councils at last year’s Paris Summit to slash emissions across the industry by 2050 in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“The success of our ambitions to keep global warming to within 1.5 to 2 degrees will depend on our ability to advance net zero buildings – those which generate clean energy and produce no net emissions,” Wills said. “Net zero buildings will be a defining contribution in our efforts to tackle climate change. Getting down to zero won’t be easy.
“This will be a long and challenging road but together with the dedication and expertise of our Green Building Councils and partners, we can create a thriving market for highly efficient buildings and make net zero the new normal.”
In addition to supporting the development of ‘net zero’ certifications, the project aims to provide ‘net zero’ training programmes for building professionals and demonstration buildings that prove ultra-low impact buildings can be successfully developed.
The group is also looking to quickly expand the project beyond the eight GBCs initially involved.
The stated long term goal is to ensure “all new buildings and major renovations should be net zero starting in 2030, meaning no buildings should be built below net zero standards beyond 2030 [and] 100 per cent of buildings should be net zero by 2050”.
In order to meet the target, the group has also set goals to train 75,000 building professionals trained in ‘net zero’ practices by 2030, rising to 300,000 by 2050, and ensure all national Green Building Councils that operate certification schemes have a net zero tool in place by 2030.
Romilly Madew, chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, said the targets were ambitious but achievable. “We have strong and credible evidence that we can reach net zero in our built environment by 2050, while delivering healthier, more productive cities using technologies that exist today,” she said. “We have the skills, the technology and the knowledge. Now it’s time to take action.”
Last week, a Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, designed to boost low-carbon development in the sector, was launched at the UN Climate Summit in Paris. Over 60 organisations and several countries have joined the alliance.
Climate Action reported that the countries include Austria, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the US.
The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has committed to a ‘global market transformation’ to achieve both net zero carbon new building and the energy efficiency retrofit of existing stock by 2050, Climate Action reported.
C taking off
The ‘Moving towards net zero buildings’ commitment, has been signed by 16 European firms including Acciona, British Land, Doosan, Ferrovial, GlaxoSmithKline, Hammerson, Heathrow, Interface, JLL, Kingfisher, Land Securities, Lloyd’s Banking Group, Philips, Skanska, Sky, and Tesco.
Their commitment includes the development of ‘nearly zero energy buildings’ (nZEB) for new build by 2020, and refurbished buildings by 2030.
Climate Action said that: “The plan outlines key actions that the signatories will take, including reducing energy intensity across corporate property estates; collaborating across the supply chain to set specific targets and engaging with policy makers on progress, reporting and progress towards zero energy goals.”
Going green is ‘smart’
A green building should also be a smart one when focusing on becoming more energy efficient.
Neil Cameron, General Manager of Johnson Controls Building Efficiency, a global diversified technology and industrial player, said in an industry insight that by “combining smart grid and smart building technologies improves reliability and security, while reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.”
He highlighted that a recent Energy Efficiency Indicator study, showed that 44% of facility executives in the US selected smart building technology as one of the top three technologies expected to have the greatest price-performance improvement over the next 10 years.
“The time to deploy smart building technologies is now. Doing so could avoid $33 billion in energy costs and eliminate 160 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually by the year 2030,” Cameron said.