By 2050, every single building on the planet will need to hit the Net Zero energy-use reduction goal to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and global warming.

But since most of the buildings that will exist in three decades have already been built, reaching Net Zero targets will involve a far-reaching round of refurbishment and renovations.

What is Net Zero and how do we achieve it? 

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) defines the Net Zero emissions target as being achieved when: “the amount of carbon emissions associated with a building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative.”

Therefore, a Net Zero carbon building is: “highly energy-efficient and powered from onsite and/or off-site renewable energy sources, with any remaining carbon balance offset.”

The UK Government has legislated a national target of achieving Net Zero by 2050. With existing buildings contributing 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions annually (UKGBC), the real estate industry must not be daunted by the Net Zero challenge, but should take proactive, systematic steps towards targeting carbon emissions reduction for all buildings.

From heating and cooling to lighting and plug-loads, solutions to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and reach carbon neutrality must be identified if buildings are to decarbonise. Management and refurbishment processes play a significant role in reducing the total carbon emissions of an asset, driving improved sustainability performance.

How to get there: The Workman Net Zero Asset Plan

Combining our expertise and experience in property management and building consultancy to reduce both operational and embodied carbon, we create bespoke plans to achieve Net Zero for your assets by 2050. Many of our clients are aiming to reach the target sooner.

Our ESG expertise and capabilities have been developed over the past 10 years, working with many of the UK’s leading institutional investors with broad and challenging ESG objectives around cutting their carbon footprint.

We are already working on Net Zero Asset Plans for more than 1.5m sq. ft of assets and new developments, which are looking to achieve Net Zero targets by 2050 or earlier, including:

  • 254,000 sq. ft office redevelopment – where a 31% reduction in energy demand has been identified through improvements to building fabric and M&E plant.
  • 36,500 sq. ft office refurbishment – where a 78% reduction in energy demand has been identified through M&E improvements, including the introduction of an air-source heat pump.
  • Other recently confirmed Net Zero Asset Plan instructions include a 525,000 sq. ft multi-site office portfolio and a portfolio of newbuild student accommodation.

Practical advice and implementation

A comprehensive Net Zero Asset Plan

Drawing on our knowledge and experience, a comprehensive asset review provides a unique pathway to achieving Net Zero at your assets. Created in accordance with the UKGBC’s Advancing Net Zero (ANZ) framework, our Net Zero Asset Plan will provide recommendations and direction, drawing together existing information and identifying knowledge gaps.

The Plan consists of the nine workstreams (shown here), providing a clear framework through which we investigate and identify all required initiatives and report throughout.

The creation and implementation of Net Zero Asset Plans are led by our experienced ESG team who work closely with clients and in-house teams. As members of the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) Managing Agents Partnership and ISO:14001 accredited, we share an ongoing commitment to the sustainable management of the real estate, which we combine with practical advice and implementation.

Stakeholder engagement is crucial 

Knowing, understanding and engaging with stakeholders will be key to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions at the asset and portfolio level. The goal cannot be achieved without a united approach from all key stakeholders involved within an asset.

Relationships with investors, occupiers, contractors and consultants will be the glue that brings together all parties to agree – and achieve – a common Net Zero target.