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net zero

Building Management

Carbon Trust: Heat pumps key to London’s net zero ambition

A new report from the Carbon Trust says heat pumps will have a critical role in tackling emissions from London’s buildings and delivering the Mayor’s 2030 net zero ambitions.

The report, commissioned by the Mayor of London, includes detailed analysis of the potential to retrofit heat pumps across a range of existing buildings in London and recommends an action plan for scaling up energy efficiency and heat pump retrofit across the capital.

The report will help guide local authorities, social housing providers and others considering a heat pump retrofit, highlighting the principles of good practice system design.

The Carbon Trust says decarbonising heat is London’s biggest challenge to achieving net zero emissions. Natural gas, used mainly for heating buildings and water, accounts for 37% of all greenhouse gas emissions in London. To achieve the Mayor’s net zero target by 2030, London will need to make a rapid transition from gas to low carbon heat solutions, the majority of which will be retrofitted into existing buildings, as at least 80% of buildings are expected to still be standing in 2050.

Heat pump systems have the potential to deliver immediate carbon emission savings of 60-70% compared to conventional electric heating and 55-65% when compared to an efficient gas boiler. As the grid decarbonises further in coming decades these carbon savings are expected to increase to 90-100% of carbon emissions by 2050.

However, heat pumps are not a like-for-like replacement for gas boilers and good practice system design will be essential to their effective deployment. The report contains guidance for building owners on the technical options for installation and the principles of good practice system design in heat pump retrofit.

Additionally, a prerequisite for the roll out of heat pumps in many buildings will be improved thermal energy efficiency, which is likely to require significant investment from central government, alongside investment and co-ordination with local authorities and the private sector. Retrofitting energy efficiency measures, combined with heat pumps, provides multiple benefits including reducing energy bills, and enabling the heat pump to operate more efficiently.

Heat pumps also allow building occupants to flex their heat demand in response to tariff price signals and other payments for demand side response. The report finds that engaging in demand side response and flexibility markets is hugely beneficial to the financial case for heat pump retrofit, as well as enabling overall grid resilience.

The report concludes that most building types will require further financial support to transition from gas boilers. However, some building types, such as electrically heated blocks of flats and buildings that are due for major upgrades to the building fabric or heating systems, already have strong financial cases for heat pumps, and should be prioritised for retrofit and energy efficiency investment.

Building Management

Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment gains 100 signatories

Five more companies have joined the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, bringing the total number of signatories to 100 and doubling participation in the programme in just over a year.

Since inception, the businesses and organisations signed up to the Commitment, created by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), now cover nearly 6,000 assets, over 32 million m2 total floor area and $100 billion in annual turnover.

This means that the operational portfolio emissions of these signatories will be at net zero by 2030, affecting approximately 3.4 million tonnes of CO2 (tCO2e).

WorldGBC is now calling for governments to #ActOnClimate as part of the 11th annual World Green Building Week event, happening 21 to 25 September 2020.

The signatories range from small and medium enterprises to large, multi-national corporations, and span engineering, design and consultancy services to real estate owners and manufacturing.

The latest signatories are Mott MacDonald, QIC Global Real Estate (QIC), United Metal Coating LLC, Bioconstrucción y Energía Alternativa and Tritax Big Box.

For these five signatories, the Commitment is one of three pathways to become a member of EP100 fromThe Climate Group, a global initiative for energy-smart companies doing more with less energy.

“Achieving this milestone, in less than two years since the launch, demonstrates the growing importance of net zero carbon buildings to governments, businesses and mayors”, said Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council. “As countries look to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19, there is an opportunity for net zero buildings to provide benefits for people, the planet and economies. By positioning net zero carbon buildings at the core of these recovery efforts, governments and policymakers can harness the incredible potential of net zero buildings to build back better and enable a green recovery.

“I congratulate our new signatories on their commitment and for demonstrating the level of ambition and leadership required by both public and private sector actors going forward.”

The new companies and organisations are committed to ensuring that all assets they own, occupy and/or develop under their direct control will operate at net zero carbon by 2030, or earlier.

The Commitment is unique in positioning energy efficiency as a central component to achieving decarbonisation across global portfolios, in addition to generating and procuring renewable energy to meet reduced energy demand. This represents the most cost-effective, best-practice approach to ensuring buildings are fit for purpose, future-proofed against climate impacts, and able to provide healthy and comfortable environments.

The Climate Group’s Corporate Partnerships Director, Mike Peirce said: “Congratulations to World Green Building Council on passing this exciting milestone. Faster business and government action to clean up the built environment is critical to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We applaud all of the signatories leading by example and welcome the latest EP100 members. Smarter energy use will help them achieve net zero carbon buildings and generate substantial financial savings annually — it’s no wonder more and more companies are seizing this huge business opportunity.”

The full list of the Commitment signatories comprises 68 businesses and organisations including developers, real estate investment and property funds, manufacturers and global design firms, 28 cities including London, New York and Tokyo, and six states and regions including California and Scotland.

Businesses, governments, organisations and individuals are encouraged to sign the World Green Building Week’s Call to Action Statement which is intended to galvanise governments to take urgent action for the decarbonisation of buildings. More information on the week, can be found at www.worldgbc.org/worldgreenbuildingweek.

Open Innovation Levels Framework published by UKGBC

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) and Sustainable Ventures (SV) have published the Open Innovation Levels Framework, a resource aimed at enabling open innovation with the goal of reducing the climate impacts of the built environment.

The organisations say 40% of UK carbon emissions are attributable to the built environment, which requires significant innovation to reduce its impact. Recent research shows that, in London, innovation is the most frequently identified soft skill required to respond to recent trends in the built environment, with the same research identifying the most significant trend being the climate crisis.

As part of a project to accelerate open innovation, funded by EIT Climate-KIC, UKGBC and SV carried out interviews, desktop research and workshops with innovators and large corporations operating in the built environment sector to identify the needs and barriers currently preventing significant innovation. This research identified that in many cases the power to overcome barriers to innovation lies with large corporate organisations.

45% of all barriers identified related to corporate culture, including attitude to risk, lack of systems thinking and lack of incentives.

The Framework provides a step-by-step guide on how corporates can engage in open innovation and reach effective solutions. It is divided into 4 key phases – challenge definition, scoping, engagement, and collaboration – each of which are broken down further into 8 levels with associated actions. This shared process creates a common understanding of open innovation between corporates and innovators, increases transparency, and enables more efficient and timely engagements.

Alastair Mant, Head of Business Transformation at UKGBC said: “If the built environment is to play its part in tackling the climate crisis we must radically increase the use of innovative solutions. Many companies throughout the property and construction value chain are setting ambitious carbon reduction commitments and to meet these they must now find new ways to construct and operate buildings and infrastructure. Innovators and start-ups continue to create many of the required concepts, prototypes and even final products, but due to largely cultural issues, take-up of these solutions is too slow. The Open Innovation Levels Framework provides corporates with a step-by-step process for collaborating with start-ups in a way that will lead to greater levels of innovation within their projects and across the industry.

“It is our hope that UKGBC members and other organisation in the built environment find this Framework useful in pursuing innovative solutions to environmental and social impact challenges.”

Charlie Beharrell, Senior Commercial Associate at Sustainable Ventures, added: “Sustainable Venture’s community is thriving with innovators tackling the Built Environment’s climate and sustainability issues, but the sector lags behind in its efforts to nurture these and bring them to market. The framework we have developed with UKGBC will enable corporate entities to better engage with early stage innovation, helping to build new, tailored solutions to facilitate the transition to net zero.”

Don’t let COVID-19 wreck your climate change plans

By Onsite Energy Projects

We all need to refocus on the big issue of climate change, but we are facing a significant recession in the next few years. I predict that capex budgets are going to evaporate, and as a result investment plans are going to be put on hold. The consequence could be to derail our climate change and sustainability plans for some years to come.

At the same time, saving money has never been more important – to be competitive and grow jobs.  So how can you keep up the pace of sustainability gains, energy savings and make your business more competitive ?

Never has there been a better time to look at our zero capex, off-balance sheet solution.  We can help with energy savings ideas, sustainability innovation and develop the business cases for energy efficiency measures.  We can deliver them as an energy supply agreement without any cost to you.  All you need to do is pay for the power we provide (at a discount to what you are paying for grid power).

There is no cost to you for our analysis and recommendations.  We have experience in delivering solutions for complex manufacturing environments. We can particularly add value where you have a lot of use of heat, steam, chill or air conditioning.

In short we can accelerate your plans, not have them beaten back by lack of capital caused by COVID-19.

If you would like to know more email us at info@on-site.energy or call on 0161 444 9989.

Onsite Energy Projects provides energy savings and energy generation solutions to energy intensive businesses, without capex if required.

Can a data centre achieve Net Zero?

By OnSite Energy Projects

Achieving net zero is a challenge for any business but data centres are amongst the most power hungry users. Globally data centres consume >3% of total power generation (that’s 140% of the entire UK power generation). So can data centres ever attain net zero?

Some data centres simply buy “green tariffs” which in my view is a cheat, and it won’t be acceptable in the long run.  It also misses the real opportunity of embracing the move towards net zero, which is  to reduce operating costs and be green at local level. Achieving net zero lies in a combination of energy efficiency and local zero carbon generation.

Data centres are often measured by their PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness) which is Total Facility Power consumption divided by IT Equipment Power.  Typically PUE is in the range 1.5-2.0  depending on location.  The traditional approach in building a data centre is to size the power supply and cooling to the maximum compute capacity, with redundancy.  In practice this means a lot of equipment on standby or in reserve just in case.

We typically see several energy savings options in data centres.  For instance, alternative cooling technologies can be used which save significant energy (up to 90% of cooling load), and are also cheaper than traditional cooling and more scalable to deploy as IT power grows.  Resulting PUE can fall below 1.1.

Reducing consumption also narrows the gap that zero carbon onsite generation then needs to address.  The main factors in specifying generation solutions are usually available space on site, scale of generation needed and access to nearby low carbon or renewable generation.

The benefits such an approach brings are (1) cheaper operating costs;  (2) reduced CO2 emissions; (3) long-term cheaper power than grid, and (4) enhanced resilience. These are all key factors in attracting and retaining tenants.   Adoption of the alternative cooling technologies can even enable more dense rack compute power, so enabling more use of space, higher rents and higher occupancy.

The technology may not be there today to go fully net zero, but I am convinced its coming.  Adopting a strategy towards net zero will be vital for attracting and retaining customers.

Onsite Energy Projects enables the achievement of net zero via our innovative data-led approach and zero capex solution. For more details please contact us at info@on-site.energy or on 0161 444 9989.

http://on-site.energy

Sustainable office buildings ‘offer tangible investment benefits’

Sustainable office buildings can deliver tangible investment benefits to investors through a combination of higher rents and stronger leasing velocity.

The Impact of Sustainability on Value report from JLL also reveals growing occupier demand for sustainable offices in central London that will need to be met in the next decade.

JLL has calculated that the next wave of office development and major refurbishment will need to accommodate at least 8.0 m sq ft of highly sustainable demand from occupiers across central London by 2030.

This demand assessment for central London office stock is based on the space currently occupied by companies which have signed up to science-based- targets (12m sq ft) who have lease events before 2030, demonstrating the increasing demand and need for highly sustainable buildings within central London.

The research also identified demand from companies signing up to net zero carbon commitments, who currently occupy over 1.5m sq ft of space across central London.

JLL’s research found that, based on historical leasing activity, the future development and redevelopment pipeline of offices incorporating sustainability would deliver tangible financial benefits for developers in addition to strong levels of demand.

JLL analysed leasing activity for New Grade A office buildings in central London and found that those with a BREEAM rating of very good or higher achieved higher rents than those without a rating and that the average rental premium over non-rated buildings over the last three years was around 8%. The analysis also showed that New Grade A buildings with an A or B EPC rating achieved a rental premium of 10% over comparable offices with lower ratings over the same period.

The research further demonstrated that payback for investors who target higher BREEAM ratings is rewarded with higher occupancy rates throughout the cycle. JLL analysed the leasing velocity of 120 central London development schemes completed between 2013 and 2017 and found that those that have an outstanding/ excellent rating tended to show a higher pace of leasing and have lower vacancy rates – of 7% compared to 20% for those rated very good – 24 months after completion.

Neil Prime, head of central London offices markets and UK office agency at JLL, said: “Our analysis of existing environmental ratings shows that overall sustainable buildings deliver better returns for investors against the benchmarks of void rate, leasing velocity and the rents achieved. This provides the industry with a clear and defined base case to begin to formulate an understanding of how the next generation of sustainable offices – for which there is demonstrable demand – will perform.”

Sophie Walker, UK head of sustainability at JLL, added: “Clearly the urgency to build and redevelop these offices in central London to support corporate environmental and people goals is only speeding up.  The first developers to undertake the task will reap the rewards of high levels of demand and the intrinsic higher performance of their product. This opportunity to provide sustainability as a point of differentiation and to appeal to forward-thinking occupiers will really play out over the next decade.

“Beyond 2030, tougher building regulations will drive a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions and mandated sustainability performance will become more defined – this may mean that the premium associated with it will disappear and buildings that don’t comply will underperform, leading to the displacement of tenants and lost rents due to costly retrofits.”

Do you have a Net Zero strategy?

The UK has become the first major economy to pass laws requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to be net zero by 2050.  The electricity grid is decarbonising (its carbon intensity has dropped by over 50% since 2011 to where it is today – 254 g CO2 per kWh) and is forecast to drop another 50% by 2030.  Grid costs are rising to pay for this transition.

A key lies in the word “NET” because whilst some businesses will struggle to reduce carbon, others could actually become POSITIVE – e.g. generating excess renewable power.  New business models and revenue streams could emerge though

So what does this mean for YOUR business ?  How do you develop a net zero strategy ?

  1. Significant changes will be needed to the way you do business and use energy.The changes could impact how your employees come to work, how you distribute your products, sell your products, procure your raw materials and use your facilities.  Processes may require to be redesigned and reengineered.  This will mean the ability to embrace change, challenge existing assumptions, innovate and understanding of alternative methods and costs

Businesses should be looking NOW at their own operations and looking for ways to BOTH reduce consumption AND generate their own low carbon power locally in a sustainable way.  Simply buying a green energy tariff is not sufficient. There are many very good long term business benefits by embracing this genuinely, which can become a source of competitive advantage.

For businesses that use a lot of gas, this is going to be particularly challenging. Gas is cheap (5-6 x cheaper than electricity), so changing away from gas will be expensive.

  1. Those changes will have financial costs that may not be affordable within conventional capex constraints.New business models such as energy as a service are increasingly available to help bridge the gap, and enable changes to happen.

NET ZERO WILL REQUIRE NOTHING SHORT OF AN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, with new business models and technology, and all within the next 30 years. 

These are the reasons Onsite Energy Projects exists – we help businesses innovate, reengineer their energy supply chain and implement the full potential of both energy efficiency and on-site generation measures.  We recognised the challenge of capex availability and can provide a no-capex, off-balance sheet, solution to make it all happen.

If you would like to know more email us at info@on-site.energy or call on 0161 444 9989.

Onsite Energy Projects provides energy savings and energy generation solutions to energy intensive businesses, without capex if required.