In late 2018, the IPCC issued a stark warning. It highlighted that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is crucial to avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. It also clearly established that achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement will require action at an unprecedented pace and scale. To maximise the chances of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, all sectors of the economy must achieve significant emissions reductions; and the global building sector must fully decarbonise by 2050.
The IGBC is now inviting Irish cities and companies to show leadership and to join the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.
WHAT IS THE NET ZERO CARBON BUILDINGS COMMITMENT?
The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment challenges businesses and cities to reach net zero operating emissions (1) in their portfolios by 2030, and to advocate for all buildings to be net zero carbon in operation by 2050.
The Commitment is more than words. It has been designed to facilitate genuine action towards decarbonisation of the built environment. To achieve this goal, the Commitment uses a framework made up of five requirements: Commit, Disclose, Act, Verify and Advocate.
WHAT ARE NET ZERO CARBON BUILDINGS?
Net zero is when the amount of carbon emissions associated with the building’s operational energy on an annual basis is zero or negative (2).
A net zero carbon building is ‘a building that is highly energy efficient and fully powered from on-site and/or off-site renewable energy sources, with any remaining carbon balance offset’.
The commitment values energy efficiency as a fundamental requirement of reaching net zero for buildings and a necessary first step towards decarbonisation. Reductions in energy demand should hence be prioritised over all other measures. The resultant energy needs of the building should be met by renewable energy, preferably on-site, otherwise off-site. Finally, any remaining carbon emitted from energy use should be offset (3) on an annual basis to achieve net zero.
WHY SHOULD YOUR ORGANISATION SIGN UP TO THE NET ZERO CARBON BUILDINGS COMMITMENT?
In the past year, the climate crisis has risen rapidly up the public agenda and has culminated with Ireland declaring Climate Emergency. Buildings are responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions, making it the largest contributing sector to climate change. Our sector’s commitment is critical. But this challenge can only be tackled by government, businesses, and citizens, working together to take ambitious action to radically reduce these emissions. The IGBC encourage Irish cities and businesses to show climate leadership and join the Net Zero Carbon Commitment.
By signing up to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment your organisation will:
- Demonstrate market readiness and willingness to eliminate fossil fuels from buildings.
- Inspire others to take similar action.
- Future proof its operations, hence standing a better chance of weathering the impacts of the climate crisis.
- Signal to policymakers that more stringent regulatory frameworks would be well received by industry
Showing climate leadership through the NZCB commitment will also help your organisation attract and retain talent (4). Furthermore, greener buildings enhance the health, wellbeing and productivity of employees – Building the business case: Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Green Offices.
95 organisations have already joined the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. Going further, deeper and quicker, together; will provide additional learning opportunities.
While there are several existing commitments to which organisations can sign-up to demonstrate action against climate change, this commitment is unique in positioning building performance as a core component of the strategy.
It also ensures full alignment with the ambitions and requirements of the Paris Agreement, through urgent and immediate action. The Commitment is ‘outcomes focused’, and signatories are required to regularly report both qualitative and quantitative progress towards their decarbonisation goals.
INTERESTED IN SIGNING UP?
Join our Advancing Net Zero course mail. This Course Mail Series is delivered in four easy-to-read emails. You will receive one each week after you sign up. Once you receive the emails you can read the information when and where it suits you. Read more.
(1) Any emissions associated with the energy and water used to run a building are known as ‘operational carbon’. These emissions are mostly from the electricity or gas used to heat and cool the building and run any appliances within.
(2) The Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment focuses on operational emissions (scope 1 and 2 energy related emissions) of buildings over which the signatory (city or company) has direct control.
(3) Offsets are permitted only as the final option in the renewable hierarchy to reach net zero carbon emissions. Commitment signatories should produce and procure renewable electricity in a preferential hierarchy of on-site, off-site, or by offsets. For further information on eligibility of procurement of a carbon offset under the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment please contact us.
(4) A report by PWC shows that 58% of millennials would avoid working in a particular business sector if it had a negative image. The recently launched “Ecological Awakening” manifesto has already been signed by more than 32,000 students and young graduates declaring that they would not work for organisations that do not place environmental protection at the heart of their activities.