In late 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning. It clearly established that achieving the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change will require action at an unprecedented pace and scale.
This enormous challenge can only be tackled by governments, businesses and civil society working together to take ambitious action to radically reduce emissions.
Extract from UKGBC document titled
“Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition”
In response to enquiries from investors and some forward thinking occupiers regarding environmental and sustainability policies and our desire to lead we continually review current policies relating to BREEAM, EPC ratings, low energy and carbon in the construction of new logistics buildings.
Scott Hughes have a company wide appointment as BREEAM Assessor for Tritax Symmetry which gives consistency in approach and innovation to delivering our minimum BREEAM rating of “Very Good” on each new development.
In April 2019, it was recognised that the low carbon agenda needed detailed consideration in respect of our new developments and a decision was made to explore the status of net zero carbon in the industry and specifically in the logistics sector.
Following discussion with Scott Hughes, who also provide services as a Carbon Assessor, we appointed them to advise on our strategy relating to net zero carbon in construction. The first task was to look at the various definitions of ‘net zero carbon’ and decide which to align ourselves with.
Following a detailed review of the April 2019 UKGBC document titled “Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition” Tritax Symmetry decided to align with the UKGBC definition and the UKGBC Advancing Net Zero campaign.
An established working group of professionals and a national Building Contractor were formed to review the standard specification for a Tritax Symmetry building in the context of the UKGBC Framework Definition.
In particular, the focus was to measure the quantum of carbon for a base building prior to tenant fit out and occupation – the elements that are wholly within Tritax Symmetry’s control. The approach to measurement being in accordance with the UKGBC’s framework definition for net zero carbon in construction.
Following the theoretical exercise, and as Tritax Symmetry had exchanged an Agreement for Lease with Co-op for a 660,000 sq ft building in Biggleswade, the working group was challenged with undertaking a pilot study of this building, both in its specific Co-op required form and also adjusted to reflect the same building constructed to our standard specification.
Modelling was undertaken by Scott Hughes based upon the tendered data and quantification available with ongoing liaison with UKGBC to ensure alignment with their framework definition.
Meetings were held with key members of the supply chain including Kingspan and CA Group to review their environmental product data and explore initiatives that are in place to review embodied carbon.
In December 2019, Scott Hughes issued their report with regards to the Biggleswade project. It was apparent that a significant and disproportionate tonnage of embodied carbon sat within the concrete ground floor slabs and service yards, contributing just below 40% of the embodied carbon.
The study included a review of the options available for carbon offset, with two offset vehicles being recognised by UKGBC that are subject to stringent evaluation to ensure they are credible and ethical.
Following a paper setting out the above to the Tritax Big Box REIT board in May 2020 with a recommendation that all new buildings within the portfolio should be constructed to net zero carbon in construction, this course of action was agreed going forwards.
Scott Hughes will measure the carbon in construction of all new buildings both during the design stage and at practical completion and will ensure they achieve net zero for construction using UKGBC’s net zero framework.
Whilst it is accepted that net zero carbon in construction cannot be achieved without an element of carbon offset, initiatives are under way to further reduce the embodied carbon in construction of our buildings including:-
Whilst our focus to date has been on the elements within our control, the construction of our buildings, we have a strong aspiration to move towards net zero carbon in operational use – as defined by the UKGBC Framework Definition.
There are three key elements to this:-
To this end we are very keen to engage with our occupiers to work collaboratively in delivering buildings which are net zero carbon in operational use and at a very technical level to optimise the cost in use and associated carbon footprint.
We already utilise photovoltaic panels for renewable low carbon energy with all buildings designed such that the steelwork can accommodate full PV coverage.