Challenges, risks and opportunities in the Whole Life Carbon approach

The UKGBC Whole Life Carbon Roadmap maps the steps needed to decarbonise the built environment with a focus on commercial assets, but what about residential buildings?


This webinar brought together thought leaders from the design/architectural and sustainability/ ESG perspectives to explore where we are on the route to Net Zero, the role the BTR sector can play in creating exemplar NZC assets with the flexibility to stand the test of time, and how we can problem solve by bringing our design teams and supply chains together at the project’s inception.


The panel agreed sustainability needs to be central to everything we do as designers, developers and operators – and a major step in achieving this is enhancing carbon literacy across our organisations and among stakeholders, customers and our wider networks. This starts with developers and the design team but needs to go upstream to funders/investors as well as downstream to tenants/consumers. We have an opportunity to open up conversations with our supply chains at inception to say, for example, we want this type of unfired brick which embodies a tenth of the carbon emissions than the standard, and we’ll work with you if you can meet our brief.  By being clear of our expectations from the outset, nine times out of ten such problems can be solved and when they can’t, it sends a message to the supplier that they need to up their game.


The current energy crisis only highlights the need to reduce demand for energy, relieving pressure on the supply of fossil fuels by building Net Zero assets as part of a long-term resilience strategy.


But it is not all about the ‘E’ in ESG, it’s also about the ‘S’. A building can’t be designed only for energy-efficiency, it must be fit for purpose, in our case creating great places to live that promote healthy lifestyles among residents and contribute positively to the communities of which they’re a part. Safety, security, air quality, acoustics – these factors are all just as important as sustainability in the design of BTR properties.


Our sector has a unique opportunity to lead on Net Zero, being involved in the whole supply chain from investor to developer to operator, with energy-efficiency as a core value driver for tenants and a must-have for capital investors. It’s up to us to take on the challenge and accept that learning on the job means making mistakes, which can sometimes be costly, but that’s an essential part of the journey.