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Insights 4th July 2022 Building Consultancy

 “No progress has been made towards achieving Net Zero targets in the built environment.”

It’s a pretty damning statement on the government’s lack of action. The statement comes from the group of MPs behind the Environment Audit Committee (EAC) report in May.

As a specialist in this area, I know that “no progress” is far from the truth when it comes to the real estate industry. The industry has markedly upped its game on decarbonisation over recent years. Progress has been accelerated by end user demands, investor expectations and a sense of societal duty, rather than by legislation.

“There is plenty more to be done and an urgency to act fast, but we are making headway” writes our Partner, Hedley Jones,  Refurbishment and Development, in Property Week.

A more legitimate omission, albeit perhaps less headline-grabbing, is the need for consistent assessment methods. These methods should have cross-sector targets for both operational and embodied carbon in the real estate industry. This would help with carbon reporting, which is of growing importance to investors. They seek to prioritise environmental performance alongside financial performance in their decision-making. The impact of their investments generates similar levels of scrutiny as the monetary returns.”

The EAC report called for mandatory whole-life-carbon assessments to be introduced by December 2023. These assessments would apply to all buildings above a gross internal area of 10,764 sq. ft. If such swift legislation were to materialise (although we know that pace and politics are not often happy bedfellows), the industry would be in a position to act with confidence by using a unified methodology for measuring carbon.

With this in mind and before the EAC report was even published, a group of industry peers came together to kickstart the development of a standard for assessing Net Zero pathways at building level across the UK. The buy-in of the industry is needed at large if it is to work in reality.

Let’s hope real estate can continue to lead the way. Politicians need to see how much more than “nothing” the industry continues to do as it moves towards the Net Zero target dates on the horizon.

This article first appeared in Property Week.

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