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The clarion call for achieving net zero has gained momentum, notably spurred by Chris Skidmore MP’s influential Net Zero Review earlier this year. Emphasising the imperative of a “green economy” for future prosperity, the review laid out a comprehensive strategy for the UK to embrace the opportunities of the 21st century.

However, despite the ambitious goal of attaining net zero by 2050, the pace of progress, according to climate advisors, remains insufficient. Recognising that achieving this target requires a joint effort, the responsibility not only rests with the government but also with the industry.

To support the industry’s pivotal role in this endeavour, the need for data-driven tools becomes paramount. Enter BREEAM, the leading science-based suite of validation and certification systems for a sustainable built environment. Over more than three decades since its inception in 1990, BREEAM has evolved in sync with shifting attitudes and priorities within the industry.

With the imminent launch of BREEAM Version 7 (V7) in early 2024, the framework’s forthcoming updates aim to align metrics for measuring carbon, unifying operational and embodied carbon considerations. This unified approach assists customers in navigating their journey toward achieving net-zero carbon.

What sets V7 apart is its approach to consultation. Unlike previous updates, this version marks BRE’s endeavour to engage the wider industry at an earlier stage. This proactive consultation ensures that Net Zero Carbon (NSC) priorities remain at the forefront of the updated framework across multiple BREEAM platforms, including New Construction, In-Use, and Refurbishment and Fit Out.

The construction industry’s amplified focus on embodied carbon emphasises the significance of materials and construction processes in a building’s lifecycle. By inviting industry feedback at this nascent stage, BREEAM aims to tailor its development to precisely meet the evolving needs and ambitions of its stakeholders.

Beyond environmental concerns, there’s a growing realisation of the economic benefits intertwined with sustainability in construction projects. Buildings showcasing exemplary sustainability credentials have become key considerations for modern investors, making it imperative for BREEAM to evolve in tandem with the latest net-zero science and regulations.

Moreover, V7’s evolution aims to serve as a vital tool for investors assessing a building’s climate risk, aiding owners and operators in setting benchmarks for carbon emissions. As certifications like BREEAM increasingly become requisites by authorities, their integration further contributes to national net-zero targets.

One significant proposal within V7 is the introduction of a consistent metric, with kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per square meter per year being a primary contender. This standardised metric, if adopted, promises comprehensive data showcasing a building’s actual performance, facilitating transparency across localities, and informing similar projects.

The public consultation for these proposed changes concludes on 30th June. BRE eagerly anticipates collating the feedback to shape an updated BREEAM framework aligned with the needs and priorities of its customers. The commitment remains steadfast to ensure that V7 plays an instrumental role in supporting organisations’ aspirations towards achieving net-zero emissions.

Stay tuned for the forthcoming developments in BREEAM Version 7, which aims to set a new standard in driving the construction industry towards a sustainable and net-zero future.

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