Councils can meet net zero targets with help of building renovation

Public Sector Estate and net zeroThe UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), together with the World Green Building Council, several European Green Building Councils, Climate Alliance and the Buildings Performance Institute Europe, has published a framework to support cities and local authorities to measure the impacts and wider benefits of building retrofit as a way of meeting their net zero targets.

The built environment is directly responsible for 25 percent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Renovating the UK’s 30 million existing buildings is therefore a key challenge in achieving our ambition to reach net zero carbon by 2050, and will require retrofitting 1.8 homes per minute over the next 25 years. Although an enormous challenge, building renovation can bring a multitude of broader social and economic benefits in addition to reducing carbon footprint, from eradicating fuel poverty to generating local jobs.

The Build Upon Framework defines a suite of Environmental, Social and Economic indicators that can be measured in a simple, standardised way at either a city or project level. From energy consumption to the indoor health of occupants, the 15 indicators can be applied flexibly across a project or city and provide clear guidance on what issues local authorities can and should measure. It has been developed by a coalition of sustainability organisations and in collaboration with over 30 cities and local authorities across Europe, including Leeds, Cambridge, Hammersmith & Fulham and Essex County Council.

The Build Upon Framework helps local authorities measure all these impacts in a simple and standardised way, across all building types. It will enable local governments who wish to optimise the use of quality impact data to measure and track the effectiveness of renovation schemes. This will increase awareness about the wider benefits of building renovation, allow best-practice initiatives to be scaled up, inform renovation policies and help build the business case for future renovation projects.

Simon McWhirter, Director of Communications, Policy & Places at UKGBC, said: “The UK is legally bound to deliver net zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050. With the built environment responsible for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon footprint, our buildings have a clear role to play.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Building renovation can deliver a triple win for local communities”[/perfectpullquote]

Building renovation can deliver a triple win for local communities – not only can it deliver significant carbon reductions, but it can also boost local economies through job creation as well as deliver health and wellbeing benefits through improving the quality of our homes – making them warmer, more comfortable and cheaper to run. Through optimising the use of high-quality impact data, this framework seeks to support local government in tracking the effectiveness of renovation schemes and ultimately scale up the many benefits wide-scale renovation can bring to communities.”

George Munson, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Energy and Air Quality at Leeds City Council: “We’ve been pleased to be part of the BU2 process and it’s great the Framework is now finalised. We’re working to see how it can be implemented in Leeds to help gather data on the multiple benefits of retrofit projects – ultimately, we hope to use it to provide a strong evidence base to help government understand the true value of low carbon investment, particularly in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.”

Image: Derby Council Offices, courtesy of Costorphine + Wright