BESA Net Zero Hub
Building better, greener buildings
Our Net Zero Hub is regularly updated with the latest guidance and regulations so that you don't have to trawl government sites to find out what the next steps are for you or your business. There's a lot of information, a lot to think about and a lot to do, so let us help you by laying the key facts out for you whilst also making suggestions as to how you can help achieve net zero and win more work in a low-carbon economy. Discover the following key areas:
The UK’s ambition to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is becoming an increasingly pressing issue - particularly for those working in the built environment.
Net Zero has been influencing legislation on areas such as energy use in buildings for some time, and more regulatory changes are on the horizon. And it’s not only the government driving change. Construction and property clients are also looking to reduce the carbon footprints of their buildings.
BESA members are crucial to delivering systems that help to achieve and operate low-carbon buildings. For example, they have expertise in selecting and installing energy-using HVAC systems, as well as low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps.
However, Net Zero can seem like such a broad concept – and such an enormous undertaking – that it is difficult to gauge how it impacts day-to-day business as a building services installer.
The BESA Net Zero hub aims to answer your questions about the concepts and drivers behind Net Zero, and to help you understand how to make the most of the opportunities offered by the UK’s shift to a Net Zero economy.
Background to Net Zero in the UK
The roots of the UK’s mission to achieve Net Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions lie in the Kyoto Protocol.
Adopted in 2005, under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it committed signatories in developed nations to reduce emissions of six gases known to contribute to global warming by trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere - and which became known as ‘greenhouse gases’:
- Carbon dioxide
- Nitrous Oxide
- Sulphur Hexafluoride
Of these, carbon dioxide is considered the most hazardous to the environment, which is why we often hear about ‘carbon reduction’ as an umbrella term for cutting greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is also used as a common measure for the other gases, expressed as CO2e – carbon dioxide equivalent.
In 2008 the UK introduced the Climate Change Act (CCA), becoming the first country to establish its own legally-binding legislation on mitigating climate change.
Under the CCA, the government set a target of an 80% reduction in national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions against 1990 levels. The Act also established a system of carbon budgeting which establishes 5-year targets. These are monitored and overseen by the Climate Change Committee (CCC). This is an independent group of experts which reports to Parliament on progress towards each budget.
For example, the most recent CCC Progress Report to Parliament was published in June 2023. The report noted that by the end of 2022, UK greenhouse gas emissions were at 450 MtCO2e (CO2 equivalent). This is a 46% reduction against 1990 levels.
In 2016 the Kyoto Protocol was supplemented by the Paris Agreement which focuses on keeping the average global temperature increase to less than 2oC (above ‘pre-industrial levels’).
Partly because of this updated objective and following the recommendations of the CCC, in 2019 the UK government adjusted its original goal. It committed to reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to Net Zero (against 1990 levels) by 2050. There are also interim targets:
- 68% reduction by 2030
- 78% reduction by 2035
The term ‘Net Zero’ means that the goal is to get the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible, and then to absorb the remaining emissions through carbon capture and storage technologies. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) refers to this as ‘Reduction and Removal’.
Climate Change Committee (CCC)
LETI – Low Energy Transformation Initiative
RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors)
UK Business Climate Hub
United Nations – Climate Change
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Page last updated on 3 October 2023