RICS: Are zero energy buildings really zero? (EU)

RICS stresses the importance of developing a methodology for measuring embodied carbon in Europe's buildings and presents the final draft of its information paper on whole life carbon calculation, at a conference organized in the framework of the sixth edition of the EU Sustainable Energy Europe Week (Thursday June 21, 2012).

As the EU drives the requirement for low-energy, nearly zero energy and carbon buildings, the role of embodied carbon becomes increasingly significant.

With the conference entitled 'Are zero energy buildings really zero: from operational efficiency to embodied energy and carbon', RICS aims at raising awareness and providing the latest knowledge, experience and thinking on whole life carbon by:

  • Presenting the drivers, opportunities and emerging standards in carbon management
  • Discussing the benefits of new build versus refurbishment, and whether the installed energy efficiency or renewable technologies generate real 'net' benefits once the embodied carbon used to make them is factored in.
  • Improving the understanding of how the embodied energy needs to be brought into the design decisions made in developing projects in order to ensure that operational efficiency is not prioritized over embodied energy which could lead to a reduced design life and increased embodied energy as the buildings are replaced more frequently.
  • Highlighting the need for improved cross-professional dialogue and collaboration with industry and all players across the building chain which has to take part in the carbon mitigation strategy.

At the conference, RICS will present the first draft of its guidance note on whole life carbon calculation*, which details an approach to early stage carbon accounting. This note has been developed over the last two years with the involvement of industry and research universities.

According to Zsolt Toth, EU Policy & Public Affairs officer at RICS: "The emphasis in Europe recently has been on improving energy efficiency in buildings during the use phase. This leaves out a significant amount of carbon generated and energy used to make and maintain buildings. With this event, RICS wants to open a debate about the role of whole-life (embodied and operational) carbon accounting, emerging standards of measurement and carbon mitigation strategies for both new build and refurbishment projects.

"The presentation of the RICS guidance document will introduce and facilitate industry standardization of life cycle carbon measurement as well as a support towards the EU's ambition to save energy and reduce carbon emissions from the built environment."

Source: RICS

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