The Green Building Council of Australia, the Canada Green Building Council, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), the India Green Building Council, and the U.S. Green Building Council announced their intentions this fall to recognize and reward net zero carbon buildings. Each country’s unique plan could be either stand-alone net zero certification or a net zero designation within existing certification schemes. The announcement was made during the second “Buildings Day,” which took place at COP22 in Morocco.
The announcements mark significant progress towards Advancing Net Zero, the World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) groundbreaking project to ensure that all buildings – both new and existing – achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (meaning they produce no emissions at all by the middle of the century). Buildings are currently responsible for over 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but represent one of the most cost effective ways to reduce emissions though energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, according to the WGBC. Net zero carbon buildings are closely aligned with zero net energy buildings in that they are highly efficient structures that are coupled with renewable energy generation. However, net zero carbon certified buildings will calculate net carbon emissions on an annual basis. The definition of zero carbon varies across countries (and schemes), but can include an element of carbon offsetting.