Decarbonising our economy and dealing with the implications of climate change are the most critical challenges facing the world today. We’re in the midst of a climate emergency and we know the built environment is responsible for about 40% of global emissions.
Landlords and developers are working hard to seek opportunities where energy can be reduced or purchased from renewable sources, but this is just one step. We must focus not only on operational carbon reduction, but also on achieving truly net zero carbon buildings.
The government has set strong targets for the UK economy to be net zero by 2050. But the demand for buildings remains high, so to achieve this we need to push the limits in the way we build so that we don’t harm the ongoing efforts to protect the environment from irreversible damage.
At Landsec, we’ve developed a plan for achieving net zero buildings. In addition to cutting operational emissions in line with our science-based targets and committing to the procurement of renewable electricity, we’ll implement an internal shadow carbon price to drive investment towards cleaner projects.
We must focus not only on operational carbon reduction, but also on achieving truly net zero carbon buildings
We’re also reducing carbon emissions across our construction activities by carefully selecting every raw material we use. The aim is to avoid materials with a high carbon intensity such as traditional steel and concrete, replacing them with materials with a high recycled content and sourced locally, or materials with an inherently low carbon profile such as engineered timber – which naturally absorbs carbon, making it carbon negative.
At our Lavington Street development, we’re pursuing a design around a hybrid steel and timber structure. At Lucent ,W1, we’ve reduced embodied emissions by 20% in the design stages by making the structure leaner and lighter. And lastly – and this really is the last resort – we’ll need to offset the remaining carbon from our construction impacts.
We have a huge challenge ahead, but there is the promise of great collaboration with networks like the BBP that make this challenge possible. No one, no business and no city can achieve net zero alone. We must be transparent with our learnings, share our progress and keep striving to lead by example in the fight against climate change in the built environment.
Caroline Hill is head of sustainability and public affairs at Landsec