Net Zero Carbon Buildings: The Tech to Get You There

Net Zero Carbon Buildings: The Tech to Get You There

– By Shea Karssing

February 2, 2023

How IoT Simplifies the Achievement of Net Zero Carbon Buildings

The government is committed to achieving net zero by 2050. According to the UKGBC’s Whole Life Carbon Road Map, buildings account for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon. This means net zero carbon buildings are going to be a vital component of broader net zero plans for the country. Green buildings also feature in the government’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution following concerns that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faced with a global climate emergency, the task to reduce emissions is an urgent one. Net zero carbon goals also need to have realistic performance targets that are set using science and data to inspire meaningful change. Once changes are implemented, data continues to play a role in maintaining standards and mapping progress.

Digital tools have the potential to assist in benchmarking, transitioning, and monitoring as net zero carbon efforts are implemented. With buildings creating such steep operational energy and embodied carbon emissions, it makes sense that the built environment presents easy gains for change around energy consumption and emissions.

What is a net zero carbon building?

Net zero carbon buildings speak to operational carbon and embodied carbon. Operational carbon refers to the daily energy requirements around a building’s operations – usually gas or electricity. Embodied carbon refers to the carbon emissions generated in the lifecycle of a building: construction, replacement, demolition, and disposal.

In net zero carbon buildings, the carbon emissions and energy requirements are limited to fit within a definition of net zero. In practice, this means buildings that display high-level energy efficiency and efficient construction services.

Net zero carbon buildings apply to both new builds and existing infrastructure – and net zero carbon relates to limiting energy requirements and emissions and rather looking to on-site renewable energy sources and offsetting energy schemes.

The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard

Industry groups in the UK are working on the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard. This will set benchmarks and targets, provide thresholds that will create a clear definition of net zero, and will align the UK’s green policies and efforts. This will give net zero credibility and create a realistic roadmap for net zero carbon buildings, UK.

According to the NZC working group, the standards will cover:

  • Metrics by which net zero performance will be gauged, including targets and limit
  • It is likely that these will cover factors across both energy usage and embodied carbon
  • Operational considerations such as the procurement of renewable resources, offsetting, and accounting. It is expected that the scope of the standards will grow and change over time

It has been put forward that data will be used to monitor net zero claims. These standards will be used to prove net zero status.

What is the business case for net zero carbon buildings?

In assessing the feasibility of net zero carbon buildings, the cost of design, construction, and cost of builds need to be weighed against the benefits.

Reduced waste means cost savings

Accurate data collection related to your energy consumption creates meaningful opportunities to identify areas where energy is wasted and to optimise consumption around actual insights. Mitigating waste has a bearing on a business’s balance sheet. In the same vein as reduced wastage, accurate data reporting on consumption improves billing accuracy. This, in turn, reduces the chance of billing problems and the administrative burden in rectifying issues.

The future is geared towards investment in renewables

Political, scientific, and economic factors are all driving investment in renewables. For example, the Russian invasion of Ukraine raised concerns about energy continuity and drove up household and business energy prices. Investors are also increasingly backing away from investment options that are not climate friendly.

Reduced operational costs

The high price of energy makes cutting consumption a financial imperative. This also plays into future proofing operations and working towards continuity, as net zero carbon buildings are more resilient and adaptable to changing circumstances.

Simplified reporting

As regulatory focus on sustainability strengthens, so will the onus on businesses to report on their sustainability metrics. This means intensified administration around consumption metrics. Manual monitoring, administration, and reporting come at a cost – usually where resources could be better used to drive productivity and profitability elsewhere in the business. The cloud-based data collection, analysis, and reporting offered by smart building technology provides simplified reporting for evidenced sustainability practices.

Multi-location streamlining

With traditional systems in mind, complexity increases with added locations. Smart building energy monitoring offers multi-site advantages – reporting to the same standard across multiple locations to a single cloud-based dashboard.

Meeting changing occupancy and tenant needs

Building occupants and corporate tenants are increasingly concerned with sustainability selling points when it comes to real estate. This is in part because, as tenants, they are required to meet certain sustainability requirements themselves and green and smart buildings help them to achieve these. Recent studies have linked green buildings to increased profits, increased rental values, and increased occupancy rates.

Smart energy consumption within the smart building context

If you’re using smart technologies, smart buildings provide a host of benefits in addition to smart utilities management. These benefits play into the business case for smart technology, with features that appeal to building occupants and tenants in a post-COVID context (such as air quality monitoring), as well as tools for better productivity, maintenance, and management.

How to achieve a net zero carbon building

There are many routes to net zero, but a few basic principles are simply achieved through the deployment of smart energy consumption monitoring and smart buildings.

Understand and monitor usage

What can be monitored can be more effectively managed. Real-time data collection and analysis allow for understanding of usage and the factors that drive consumption. This means reduced wastage and information for energy strategy.

Set realistic benchmarks

Data patterns allow for benchmarks based on actual trends. Once behavioural changes have been effected, these data collections allow for monitoring of effectiveness for future planning.

Benefits beyond consumption monitoring

Smart technologies from Smarter Technologies Group offer advantages beyond energy consumption monitoring that have a bearing on sustainability. For example, by monitoring assets and machinery, managers have the information to fine-tune equipment to ensure optimised maintenance scheduling. Well-functioning machines tend to work more efficiently. Smart lighting is another example of energy conserving capabilities of smart technologies.

Get in touch today to plan a smarter future for your buildings

Contact Smarter Technologies Group today to find out about our easily integrable, secure, smart solutions and how they can assist you in the move to net zero carbon buildings.

Contact us today to see how Orion™ The Real-Time Data Network can benefit your business.

Our experts are on-hand to advise you on the most efficient and cost-effective smart technology solutions for your business’ needs.

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