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Zero Carbon Game Changers Series 2019-2020 | Part 1: Operational Carbon

In recent months, the UK property industry has done more to advance the environmental agenda than ever before.

Developers, consultants and professional bodies have come together to declare a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency and have taken concrete action. Together we developed much needed clarity and guidance on how to truly achieve Zero Carbon by 2030. Hilson Moran has worked with local government, private developers and other business to help develop policy and supporting guidance that is practical and straightforward and we have responded to key consultation documents published by Central Government on our own merit and with our industry peers.

Hilson Moran is one of 77 signatories of the Building Services Engineers Declare commitment.

In the UK, 49% of annual carbon emissions are attributable to buildings. This note forms part of our Zero Carbon Game Changers Series and summarises key documents that were issued between April 2019 and today.

Part 1 is focussed on operational carbon from buildings, which refers to the carbon emitted from energy consumed in buildings associated with heating, hot water, cooling, ventilation, and lighting systems, as well as equipment such as fridges, washing machines, TVs, computers, lifts, and cooking equipment.

The key changes to be aware of is that in addition to reinforcing the importance of passive and smart energy efficient design, there is an expectation of further investment into realistic carbon prediction, increased collaboration with stakeholders on building operation, including facilities managers and tenants, and more transparency in the disclosure of carbon emissions and offsetting mechanisms. Hilson Moran has been supporting design development through these new disruptive trajectories.

Watch out for further guides in the coming weeks.

If you would like more information please contact Marie-Louise Schembri at

Industry-led game changers:

The UKGBC issued two key documents that paved the way to setting industry energy performance benchmarks:

  1. The ‘Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A framework definition’ (April 2019) provides the industry with clarity on how to achieve net zero carbon in construction and operation
  2. Net zero carbon: energy performance targets for offices’ (January 2020) set out more stretching requirements for commercial offices claiming net zero in operation and set out a trajectory of tightening energy performance requirements over the next fifteen years.

The UKGBC is intending to issue further guidance on carbon offsetting in 2021, and Hilson Moran is happy to announce that we have secured a place on the Task Group.

LETI or the London Energy Transformation Initiative is a network of over 1,000 built environment professionals that are working together to put London on the path to a zero carbon future. The voluntary group is made up of developers, engineers, housing associations, architects, planners, academics, sustainability professionals, contractors and facilities managers. Hilson Moran has been involved from its launch; together we helped influence the New London Plan and have published the following document in relation to operational carbon:

  1. Climate Emergency Design Guide’ (January 2020), which outlines the requirements of new buildings to ensure our climate change targets are met

RIBA declared a climate emergency on June 2019. In addition, they published the following guidelines:

  1. Sustainable Outcomes Guide’ (December 2019), on targeting, designing and evaluating sustainable outcomes for buildings of all scale
  2. RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge’ (January 2020), guidance explains the different targets and clarifying what net zero really means in practice

The Better Buildings Partnership’s ‘Design for Performance’ (DfP) project is an initiative that addresses the performance gap and aims to improve the transparency and accountability of energy performance in new build offices. Hilson Moran is a MEP Delivery Partner of the project and is designing a DfP Pioneer Project for British Land.

Government-led game changers:

Part L of the Building Regulation 2020 and the Future Homes Standard (est. 2025): This consultation sets out our plans for the Future Homes Standard, including proposed options to increase the energy efficiency requirements for new homes in 2020 (expected this summer). The Future Homes Standard will require new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. Highlights include:

  1. A proposal to shorten Transitional Arrangements, used to define a grace period between when the new Approved Document is released, and when the previous version can no longer be used
  2. The introduction of a Primary Energy Target and a Householder Affordability Rating, in addition to the carbon Target Emissions Rate, and the removal of the Target Fabric Energy Efficiency
  3. The formal adoption of a decarbonised electricity factor and factors to help a more gradual phasing out of gas CHP, as long as a strategy is in place to replace this with heat pumps at a later date

The New London Plan: The current 2016 Plan is still the adopted Development Plan, but the Draft London Plan is a material consideration in planning decisions. The Mayor is to publish final London Plan working towards summer 2020. Associated guidance includes:

Energy strategy: The updated Energy Assessment Guidance (April 2020) provides information for planning applicants on how to comply with the New London Plan energy policies. Highlights include:

  1. Application of new decarbonised electricity figures (SAP 10.0) and new Heating Hierarchy
  2. Zero Carbon for all new development and Carbon offset increased to £95/tonne
  3. New requirements for reporting modular/ temporary/ co-living buildings and flexible power solutions to reduce energy peaks

Operational energy: The draft Be Seen – Energy Monitoring Guidance’ (April 2020) explains how to comply with the new policy requirement for all major developments to monitor and report their energy performance post-construction. This is to ensure that the actual carbon performance of the development is aligned with the Mayor’s net zero-carbon target. Highlights include:

  1. Upload energy consumption predictions and metered data at planning, Practical Completion and during operation to an online portal
  2. DEC certificate to be produced by Developers and Building Owners, and GLA encourages Design for Performance (see above) for buildings >5,000m2
  3. Smart metering infrastructure to be described in planning applications and use to upload pre-defined Reportable Units.

Private rental energy efficiency: BEIS issued a key consultation, Non-domestic Private Rented Sector minimum energy efficiency standards: future trajectory to 2030 (October 2019), which seeks views on how best to improve the energy performance of non-domestic private rented buildings through tighter minimum energy standards, to set a clear long-term trajectory to reduce energy consumption by at  least 20% by 2030. Highlights include:

  1. Proposed minimum energy efficiency standard of EPC Band B by 1 April 2030
  2. Government will support trajectory by investing in the enablement of low carbon heating systems in buildings, such as heat pumps, as well as low carbon heating infrastructure, such as heat networks, biogas and hydrogen networks.

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