For the first time, the climate-change summit is holding a day dedicated to cities, regions and the built environment

British Land among signatories of WorldGBC’s net-zero-carbon buildings commitment

The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has revealed that 44 businesses have signed up to the whole-life-carbon requirements of its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

The signatories will by 2030: reduce all operational emissions of new and existing built assets; achieve maximum reductions in embodied carbon for new developments and major renovations over which they have direct control; compensate for any residual operational and upfront embodied emissions that cannot be mitigated; advocate for wider emission reductions via their business activities and report on their impact.

To keep to the Paris Agreement, the #BuildingToCOP26 Coalition has called for emissions from buildings globally to be halved by 2030, and to reach net zero life-cycle emissions for all buildings by no later than 2050.

Cristina Gamboa, CEO of WorldGBC, said: “Today, at the COP26 Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day, we have announced businesses and organisations that are leading the built environment industry, and beyond, in their efforts to go further and faster to decarbonise.

“They have committed to pursuing a reduction first approach, tackling both operational and embodied carbon emissions.”

Simon Carter, CEO of British Land, one of the signatories, said: “To achieve lasting emissions reductions from the built environment, we need to develop, manage and use space more sustainably.

“British Land has committed to making our whole portfolio net zero carbon by 2030, setting stretching targets for whole-life embodied and operational carbon performance. We sign this commitment in recognition of the importance of taking a whole-life carbon approach, embedding circular and carbon intelligent practices across our business.”

Net-zero roadmap for UK built environment launched

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has launched its Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment, detailing the actions government and industry need to take to achieve net-zero across the sector by 2050. UKGBC said it was created in collaboration with more than 100 organisations and provides a shared vision and set of actions relating to construction, operation and demolition of buildings and infrastructure.

The roadmap quantifies the specific emission reductions across sub-sectors of the built environment that will need to take place year on year to meet the 2050 deadline. The analysis is not restricted to domestic emissions but also includes emissions related to the consumption of imported construction products and materials.

Julie Hirigoyen, CEO of UKGBC, said the UK government’s heat and buildings strategy was “a step in the right direction but fails to address several key priorities that this analysis clearly demonstrates are non-negotiable to achieving a net-zero-carbon built environment by 2050”.

The UKGBC roadmap “pulls together disparate strands of recent policy and action into one coherent pathway, with clear recommendations for national government and local authorities, as well as the private sector and the wider industry,” she said.

“We urge policy-makers and industry to embed these recommendations into policies and strategies to make good on the promises and commitments of COP26.”

The British Property Federation (BPF) has lent its support to the roadmap. Melanie Leech, BPF CEO, said: “We are proud to have played a part in shaping the UK Green Building Council’s Net-Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap – a bold vision for how central government, local authorities and the property and infrastructure sectors can come together to reduce emissions.

“All of us within the built environment sector have a huge responsibility - and opportunity - to make a significant contribution towards the UK achieving its net-zero 2050 target, but we must act now.”

King’s Cross goes carbon neutral

The 67-acre King’s Cross Estate in London, owned by BT Pension Scheme, AustralianSuper and developer Argent, has become carbon neutral by achieving CarbonNeutral Development certification for all of its buildings Natural Capital Partners in accordance with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

Energy supplies to King’s Cross are now 100% renewable, through green tariffs and direct agreements with energy providers. Electricity is procured from REGO-certified green electricity tariffs and gas is supplied by an anaerobic digestion facility in Scotland, alongside green gas certificates.

By switching to 100% renewable gas and electricity, King’s Cross is avoiding 19,729 tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per annum being released into the atmosphere.

The estate is also offsetting 100% of its past embodied and operational emissions. Past emissions totalling 174,145 tonnes of CO2e have been offset through two third-party verified carbon offsetting projects.

All embodied carbon from new and future buildings on the estate will be offset through the creation of new UK forests. King’s Cross is purchasing about 338 hectares of pastureland onto which more than 600,000 trees will be planted. The new forests will be capable of removing about 153,000 tonnes of CO2e from the atmosphere over the next 60 years.

Hines and Bocconi University launch sustainable urban regeneration lab

Bocconi University in Milan has launched Sustainable Urban Regeneration Lab in collaboration real estate developer and fund manager Hines, real estate company Prelios, Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo and major regeneration project MilanoSesto.

The lab will aim to study, analyse and promote the development of sustainable urban regeneration.

Led by Edoardo Croci, Professor of Practice at Bocconi, it will gather interdisciplinary skills – including economists, urban planners and geographers – and will embark on a five-year research programme, dedicating the first year to post-pandemic work-and-life models.

“By sustainable urban regeneration,” said Croci, “we mean interventions that do not involve land consumption, ensure high standards of energy efficiency, contribute to circularity and utilise nature-based solutions.”

Multiplex’s European construction sites to be powered by renewables

Multiplex, the global construction company owned by Brookfield, has plans to power all of its European sities with renewable energy.

It has committed to a renewable energy power purchase agreement whereby Multiplex will procure renewable electricity directly from a dedicated renewable energy producer, and it will involve the construction of a new renewable-energy farm to support the UK commitment to decarbonise the National Grid.

Multiplex said that, by securing a long-term supply of renewable power at a fixed price, it would benefit from a reduction in risks associated with energy price fluctuations and their impact on development costs.