Paving the Road to Net Zero

Whether paving roads, transporting materials or turning materials into high rises, everyone in the built environment has a shared commitment to the UK’s newly established goal of reaching Net Zero on carbon by 2050.

As the conversation continues following the events and debates of COP26, the UK Green Building Council has launched a Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment. This roadmap addresses the responsibility owned by the construction industry and associated organisations, in achieving a Net Zero UK.

As of now, emission reduction is a quantified and measured standard that all of us will need to work hard to maintain and improve. The decarbonisation of buildings as detailed in the roadmap includes existing homes, existing non-domestic buildings, new buildings and the infrastructure that connects all of the above with our industry.

In other words, if you work in construction, retrofit, architecture, property management or development, the recommendations outlined in this blog will apply.

At the same time, if you have worked in retrofit, particularly energy efficient retrofit in recent years, you may find that your work has already begun. Soltherm’s innovation in building improvement practices have already seen a significant reduction in carbon emissions and fuel poverty across UK residences and non-residential buildings.

While campaigners put increasing pressure on the government to implement more stringent measures to reduce carbon emissions sooner, a look at the roadmap in more detail reveals what the built environment can do, here and now.

1. Nation-wide retrofitting of existing homes

“Fabric first” home retrofitting is to be rolled out nationwide, focusing on fuel efficiency. This recommendation also includes cutting off the sale of gas and oil boilers in 2030, introducing minimum EPC ratings for homes at point-of-sale in 2028, removing VAT on energy efficient retrofitting and introducing retrofit grants for low-income households.

Efficient retrofitting might be the fastest way to drive down fuel poverty in the UK. See our A1 rated systems to learn how this works.

2. Energy performance disclosure for non-domestic buildings

This includes mandatory in-house energy disclosure for non-domestic buildings and the rollout of energy rating schemes across non-domestic sectors.

3. Adoption of a design for performance approach to new buildings

A “design for performance” approach means setting Energy Usage Intensity (kWh/m2/yr) targets for new buildings as well as space heating demand limits (kWh/m2/yr), both recommended by 2025.

The Soltherm National Building Specification (NBS) Creator is for architects, designers and general specifiers. It is designed to allow you to download an NBS, applicable to your project needs, ascertained through a few relevant questions, so you can start implementing these targets in your projects right away.

4. Whole life carbon measurements and agreed limits

This recommendation includes the regulation of embodied carbon for new buildings and refurbishment projects alongside the overall decarbonisation of supply chains.

Measurements in a building’s energy efficiency should also include U-value calculations, to determine heat loss. Soltherm offer a free U-Value calculation service. This service ensures the correct insulation thicknesses are utilised in line with Building Regulations.

5. National infrastructure investment based on the net emissions impact

This recommendation is to establish a National Infrastructure Integrator with full oversight of carbon impacts.

As a roadmap for net zero and a clear set of priorities for construction professionals, particularly those in retrofit, we all have more than enough to get started.

If you are looking for a place to start incorporating measures to decarbonise your supply chain and retrofitting practices, take a look at what we have already been doing to prepare for Net Zero, then talk to us.

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