All eyes have been on Glasgow this month, as the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) has taken place.
The conference has cast an important spotlight on climate change and the impact we have on our planet, which has been met with both angst, excitement, controversy and, in some cases, indifference.
What we do know, as a collective, is that something has to change, and it needs to change now if we are to protect the planet for future generations.
How the built environment impacts climate change
The built environment has a significant role to play in the destructive effects that climate change is having on our planet.
Buildings and their construction accounts for some 36% of global energy use, and 39% of energy-related carbon emissions a year, according to the United Nations Environment Program.
These emissions are made up of a combination of two things:
- ‘Operational’ carbon emissions which come from lighting, air-conditioning and heating and are embodied from the carbon emitted in the production and delivery of construction materials
- The construction process itself, which accounts for approximately 25% of a building’s lifecycle emissions.
What is the UK doing about it?
The UK government recognises the need to prioritise energy efficiency and sustainable solutions in the development and maintenance of the built environment.
To limit the impact of the built environment on global warming and the catastrophic effects of climate change on our planet, the government has set an ambitious target enshrined in law, to reduce UK emissions by 78% by 2035 and net-zero by 2050.
It is already unlawful for businesses to lease a building with an EPC rating of ‘F’ or ‘G’ rating. From April 2023, the Government is also introducing a minimum EPC rating of ‘D’ and is consulting on a minimum EPC standard of ‘A’ or ‘B’ by 2030, which will affect the majority of real estate assets in the UK.
With this in mind, banks and financial institutions are already driving the agenda, with lending criteria on property assets already being linked with EPC rating and green leases .