Commercial offices need verifiable carbon data to meet net-zero targets

Decarbonising asset management
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Hard data and robust benchmarks are necessary for commercial offices to successfully address both embodied and operational carbon. That’s the key finding from a new British Council for Offices report.

Delivering Net Zero Carbon In The Workplace called for empirical evidence and robust tailored benchmarks for both operational and embodied carbon.

The BCO notes that the ongoing industry-led initiative to develop a netzero carbon buildings standard for the UK “could also help provide clear and consistent methodology along with real-world data to show how net-zero performance could be achieved in different building types”.

Any targets must differentiate between different types of office and their intensity of operation.

Metering is also an issue. The BCO said: “Dysfunctional metering remains a problem in the vast majority of existing UK office buildings. Many occupiers are attempting to adopt net-zero targets without knowing when and where their power is being consumed. Getting the metering strategy right must be the first step. If used appropriately, the data generated can often show easy routes to energy reduction.”

Retrofits and digital twins

The BCO also addressed retrofits and digital twins: “Advances in building information modelling make it possible to link the digital twin of a building to a materials passport database. This is especially helpful in deep retrofits, where there is often an extensive list of materials.

“A project’s budget must cover the development and ongoing management of a digital twin if it is to have any purpose or value after handover. Justification for a digital twin may lie in an occupier using it to demonstrate ongoing conformance to its ESG objectives.”

The BCO also highlighted concerns about the lack of verified information about the embodied carbon in building products and systems. “[Building occupiers] often struggle to define a baseline for their current operation. They also find it difficult to source Environmental Product Declarations for the new items, especially for items imported from overseas (outside Europe).”

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