Collaboration, activation and change-making.
As built environment consultants, we put innovative solutions for achieving Net Zero Carbon at the forefront of our designs, from lowering embodied carbon to minimising in-use and end-of-life carbon all while ensuring an exceptional experience for people.
But that approach alone just won’t cut it when it comes to decarbonising our industry. Even with the best people, the best ideas, and the best innovations, no single organisation can simply compete its way out of the climate crisis. Globally, construction and building operations are responsible for over 30% of annual greenhouse gas emissions so we must be part of the collective solution to keep within the Paris Agreement ambition to limit warming to 1.5°C.
That is why we are committed to seismically moving our industry to a net zero carbon future through radical collaboration with our peers and beyond. We are doing this through partnership and advocacy.
Let’s look back on what we’ve achieved in 2023…
Collaborating for change.
We sponsor programmes, share best practice, and give our time and expertise to organisations and projects, contributing to industry guidance that boosts evidence-based progress. We then use, share and advocate for the wide adoption of this guidance to show our commitment to continually improving our industry’s net zero carbon understanding and practice.
This year we’ve been integral to some big industry-changing achievements. Part of our long-term collaboration with the UK Green Building Council and sponsorship of its Advancing Net Zero programme has meant we’ve helped to shape the published industry guidance for renewable energy procurement, carbon pricing and offsetting and embodied carbon that will transform industry behaviours.
This industry guidance is part of a growing canon of work that is maturing our industry’s evidence-based approach to decarbonisation.
The first industry standard is coming.
Throughout the year we have contributed the widest range of expertise in the industry for the UK’s first Net Zero Building Standard, which will be the first single, agreed methodology to robustly prove built assets stay within their carbon budget. Set to be published in 2024, this will be one of the most significant steps in the UK’s journey to Net Zero.
Our people make up some of the industry expert volunteers on this project, working in the operational energy and top-down task groups. We also supported six sector groups covering healthcare, data centres, retail, higher education, science & technology and logistics & warehouses.
This standard is for anyone who wants to either fund, procure, design, or specify a Net Zero Carbon building, and anyone wanting to demonstrate that their building is Net Zero Carbon in accordance with an industry-agreed standard.
As a robust industry-backed initiative, the standard will help to create policy to deliver a Net Zero Carbon transition.
Disrupting and advocating.
We debate the key issues and the complex problems our industry must address to achieve net zero carbon because conversations should be ongoing and front of mind.
In 2023, we have been advocating for faster change; chairing the UK Climate and Biodiversity Emergency Declaration for Building Services Engineers steering group and attending the global COP28 summit as a partner of the UK Green Building Council delegation.
Good ideas should be nurtured at all levels and so, as well as contributing to high level standards and guidance, we work with industry-disrupting organisations who are posing new ideas, asking difficult questions and setting ambitious targets.
This year we contributed to the LETI Operational Carbon in Whole Life Carbon Assessments Report that proposes a methodology for converting operational energy into operational carbon. This is a rapidly evolving area that has a big impact on our industry’s approach to carbon management, so continual interrogation is vital for our work to be as robust as possible.
Regionally, we chair the New London Architecture net zero expert panel and contributed to refurbishment and circularity policy proposals for the Mayor of London. We advised the Scottish government on circular economy policy. We brought discussions to UK cities with net zero themed events this year in Birmingham, Bournemouth, Manchester and Bristol.
Getting the details right.
We continued our involvement in specific industry groups where we can make a difference. These include the CIBSE HVAC Systems Group and CIBSE Homes for the Future Group. We were one of the four main authors of the BCO Guide to Specification updated earlier this year, ahead of schedule, to reflect the unprecedented influence of net zero carbon. This also accounts for the changing patterns of work and improved efficiency of modern technology on building design.
We were also awarded UK government funding this year from the Heat Pump Ready Programme to work with a social housing developer and technology starts-ups to develop methodology to help industry to improve accurately sizing heat pumps for homes.
Our vision for the future.
We aim to shape the future of our industry, leveraging +160 years of knowledge and expertise to spark industry-wide transformation. We are passionate believers in collaboration and knowledge sharing.
In 2024 and beyond, our commitment to creating a sustainable future for us all means we will continue to drive our industry to transition to net zero carbon.