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In April 2024, our experts led an online briefing on the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard, highlighting the importance of a consistent approach to reducing the built environment’s carbon impact. 

Buildings and the construction industry are responsible for approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Buro Happold is at the forefront of driving the net zero carbon agenda. The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard (UKNZCBS) is a pivotal initiative designed to address the pressing need for operational and upfront carbon reduction within the built environment sector. In this online briefing, we explored the fundamental aspects of the UKNZCBS, its development, implications, and proactive measures for stakeholders.  

Our Experts

Christine Lowry, Partner, Buro Happold

Roaa Babiker, Associate Director and Building Performance Lead, Buro Happold

Natasha Watson, Associate and Embodied Carbon Lead, Buro Happold

David Kingstone, Associate Director, Buro Happold

What did we learn

1. UKNZCBS is voluntary now but has massive backing behind it from all key stakeholders  

The Standard will not replace certification schemes like BREEAM or NABERS UK, it will complement industry guidance from RIBA, LETI, and UKGBC to align with the targets introduced in it.

2. Embodied carbon targets that push everyone to improve  

Retrofit and ‘mixed new/retrofit’ projects are currently measured against new-build embodied carbon targets for net zero. Through setting retrofit-specific targets, the Standard incentivises efficient retrofitting and ensures continual improvement. 

Furthermore, there will be specific embodied carbon targets for each element of the building (facades, MEP etc.) meaning that all members of the project team will need to work together to achieve the embodied carbon targets set.  

3. Operational targets for new and existing buildings will be challenging for everyone to achieve 

Recognition that more intensely used buildings have higher EUIs, and setting the targets in the Standard to take account of this will allow a fair comparison.

To deliver NZC buildings in operation, it is recommended that taking the NABERS UK Design for Performance approach would be one of the best ways to achieve the standard.


UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard Briefing