Net zero carbon is a relatively new concept in the process of “carbon peaking” and “carbon neutrality”, which have been continuously raised in recent years. In fact, as an important part of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance, that is, environmental, social, corporate governance), many companies have actively participated in the exploration and practice of net zero carbon.
In November 2021, TÜV Rheinland and the United Kingdom’s Building Research Institute (BRE) jointly launched a net-zero carbon building certification evaluation system at the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE). As a pioneering action in the field of building net zero carbon, the cooperation between the two parties has attracted widespread attention in the industry.
Urgent Building Decarbonization
According to data from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), carbon emissions from buildings currently account for 39% of total global energy-related carbon emissions, of which carbon emissions during the operation period account for 28% of global total carbon emissions, while embodied carbon emissions account for 11%.
In China, the concept of “green building” has been implemented for more than 10 years, and globally, BRE is a well-known professional building environment research institution. BREEAM was not only the world’s first green building evaluation standard, but is also its most widely used. Today, BRE and TÜV Rheinland have established a solid partnership and officially released the net-zero carbon building evaluation system standard in China, helping China achieve its 3060 dual carbon goals.
Net Zero Carbon Building Certification: Challenging But Meaningful
In the past 20 years, with the rapid development of China’s construction and real estate industry, the scale of China’s construction has continued to expand at a speed that is visible to the naked eye.
TÜV Rheinland and BRE have jointly launched a net-zero carbon building certification evaluation system based on BREEAM, international greenhouse gas emission verification standards, China’s greenhouse gas emission verification guidelines, as well as domestic and foreign building carbon footprint calculation standards and the TÜV Rheinland China Mark certification system. A complete set of golden assessment verification criteria has been presented, including verifying the total carbon emissions of a building throughout its life cycle, assessing the compliance and effectiveness of its carbon management process, and ensuring that the building achieves minimum carbon emissions and maximum resource utilization efficiency during its life cycle.
It is worth mentioning that in the technical path of the net-zero carbon building certification and evaluation system, this system is based on the latest scientific and industry thinking, with the assessment methodology customized according to different building/asset types and life cycles, thereby fully supporting the challenging but achievable decarbonization of building emissions reduction. The system encompasses everything from embodied carbon to operational carbon, involving all applicable parties from new buildings involving real estate developers, architects, and EPC general contractors to those involving asset managers, to existing buildings for property operators and tenants. Design data is utilized as the evaluation basis, focusing on the carbon emissions estimation of a project plan, and actual data utilized as the evaluation basis, focusing on the improvement of the actual carbon emissions of a project.
First Batch of Net Zero Carbon Building Certifications
Pioneer Project Officially Launched
A building with net zero carbon emissions means the building is energy and resource efficient, powered by on-site or off-site renewable energy, and its residual emissions can be offset by carbon removals.
The net-zero carbon building certification created by TÜV Rheinland and BRE covers the embodied carbon emissions of building materials, operational carbon emissions during building operation (new buildings, existing buildings), and carbon emissions during the entire life cycle of buildings.
Among these, so-called “embodied carbon” refers to the building product supply chain, including energy consumption, chemical reactions, transportation, and installation/construction activities, and “operational carbon” refers to heating, cooling, and power supply during operation. The latest figures show that both emissions and energy demand from the global construction industry are increasing, making this a key target for carbon reduction efforts.
In order to help companies better standardize and effectively improve their management of carbon assets in buildings through certification, the certification application process for the Net Zero Carbon Building Evaluation System is clear:
After an enterprise determines the scope of application and submits the documents for self-application, TÜV Rheinland will complete the document review according to the material list provided by the applicant enterprise, conduct an on-site audit and on-site data sampling verification for existing buildings, and finally conduct an evaluation based on the audit results and the carbon emission calculation results. Applicants who meet the net-zero carbon or low-carbon operation criteria and pass the building carbon management process assessment will be awarded a net-zero carbon building certification certificate containing the keywords “net-zero carbon building” or “low-carbon operation.”
The application process for pioneer project net zero carbon building certification has been officially launched, with the submission of application materials for the first batch of pioneer projects completed on January 15, entering the review stage. It is expected that the first batch of successful pilot projects will be officially announced in May, with the first batch of net zero carbon building certifications officially issued at that time.