New group to define "zero carbon" for commercial buildings

17th October 2013

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Representatives from the construction sector and businesses are joining forces to define what "zero carbon" means for non-domestic properties

In July, the coalition government reaffirmed that from 2019 all new non-domestic buildings in the UK must be zero carbon, in line with the previous Labour government’s policy.

But, the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) argues there is no clear definition as to what “zero carbon” means in practice, and it has convened a new group of practitioners from commercial businesses and construction companies to tackle the problem.

The new task group is chaired by Sarah Cary, sustainable developments executive at British Land, and includes representatives from BRE, E.ON, Lafarge, Marks and Spencer and Sainbsury’s.

It has been tasked with outlining the technical details of what “zero carbon” means for commercial buildings, including recommendations for an “allowable solutions” framework, defining what measures can be taken to offset carbon emissions that cannot be abated through more efficient building fabric.

The group will also work to define the economic benefits to the UK of constructing zero-carbon non-domestic buildings.

“The implementation date for zero carbon non domestic is not very far away and the earlier we can get clarity on the definition, the better for industry,” commented Cary. “This group offers a chance for industry to set out what it thinks should happen next, and help build a strong business case for action.”

In August, the government imposed tighter carbon emissions targets for non-domestic buildings in line with the 2019 zero-carbon target.

Under the 2013 edition of Part L of the Building Regulations, which comes into force on 1 April 2014, new build non-domestic properties must generate a total of 9% less carbon emissions than those designed in line with the current version of Part L, which was published in 2010.

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