The built environment is the cause of a huge percentage of the UK’s CO2 emissions.  In particular, commercial properties used by businesses - whether as offices, retail, industrial or other occupational interests – contribute greatly to this overall carbon footprint, both in terms of consumption as well as during the construction phase.  More needs to be done to limit, or even reduce, this adverse impact. This means a review of the whole pipeline of a building, from supplier to end-user and everything in between.

“Buildings are a major contributor to climate change and in the UK, they are responsible for 23% of all carbon emissions – with 30% of these emissions coming from non-domestic buildings” – HSBC 

The problem

While there is a clear long-term benefit to decarbonising buildings, owners are often unwilling to invest upfront in the necessary energy-saving improvements or new plant and equipment.  Additionally, occupiers tend to be tenants, with limited say in what their landlord does with the building.  Whilst some owners and occupiers take a more holistic, forward-looking view, there is still a headwind in convincing all parties to commit to a lower-carbon future.

The possibilities

It’s not all bad news: with every challenge, there is an opportunity.  Every day there are new and exciting companies creating products and solutions that assist in decarbonising stock, whether through innovative in-house technologies, or simply through more rigorous interrogation of supply chains in support of better, carbon-neutral alternatives.  Companies are now encouraged to report on their green credentials – with those falling foul being named and shamed (there are underlying problems here as companies grapple with what it truly means – and costs – to be green).  Buildings can be built better, with better materials and better systems that minimise carbon leakage and maximise energy savings.  Existing buildings can install and support new retrofitting technologies that increase a building’s performance without the wastage involved with demolishing current stock.  Once built, all stakeholders are increasingly able to review,  assess and optimise their energy usage through smart tech.  Of course, this relies on commitments from all sides, including owners and occupiers.  The hope is that with more reporting, the frontrunners will inspire the stragglers into action. 
Healthy competition is no bad thing.