Sustainability Journey: Defining Zero Emissions Buildings

This week, an international alliance will officially launch a groundbreaking guide during London Climate Action Week. This guide is designed to offer the global investment community thorough insights on meeting sustainability goals across different regions. After the launch, the alliance will partner with the finance and real estate sectors to identify optimal methods for measuring and reporting social value in the built environment.

According to Connected World, the definition is not a regulatory standard. It is guidance public and private entities may adopt to determine whether a building has zero emissions from operational energy use, including emissions from tenants. Public and private entities can use the definition to demonstrate climate and clean energy leadership by adopting or exceeding the guidance.

Of course, we can’t forget about the supply chain in this discussion—as that contributes a large portion of greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Dept. of Energy says future parts of this definition may address emissions from producing, transporting, installing, and disposing of building materials; minimizing the impacts of refrigerants; and additional considerations. Other definitions and policies apply to greenhouse gas emissions from federally owned buildings.

This follows the April 2024 announcement of a new framework from the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The framework outlines objectives and four categories of federal action for how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. buildings 65% by 2035 and 90% by 2050 compared to 2005.

In addition to the definition and framework for the U.S. Dept. of Energy, other organizations are taking steps to help on this sustainability journey. The U.S. Green Building Council is currently developing the next phase of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.

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