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Scotland sets the standard on emissions in public buildings

Scotland is leading the way in reducing carbon emissions in public buildings, delegates heard at Real Asset Media’s Building Net Zero: Life Cycle Project Delivery for the Public Sector briefing, which took place online yesterday on the REALX.Global platform.

Chris Clarke, Performance & Improvement Director, SCAPE

“We’re setting the standard, leading the UK and the world,” said Chris Clarke, performance and improvement director, SCAPE. “It’s applicable to the rest of the UK, but relevant to everyone and eventually it will be a universal standard. I’m sure others throughout the world will follow our lead because it’s essential to act to contain temperature rises before it’s too late. The sooner we act, the more beneficial the action is.”

Scotland has a goal of reaching net zero by 2045, five years earlier than the rest of the UK. Dealing with buildings is crucial, as 20% of emissions come from homes and workplaces and 45% of all emissions are linked to the built environment in general in Scotland.

SCAPE Scotland has developed a life-cycle model to provide clear, unambiguous standards for building and refurbishment and verification of whether buildings are meeting those standards. The Net Zero Public Sector Buildings Standard sets clear objectives to tackle carbon intensity across the public estate and provides a route to reaching those objectives.

“We’ve drawn a clear line in the sand,” said Clarke. “A net zero building looks like this and performs like this. The focus is on reducing emissions, but the standard addresses a lot of issues. It also establishes how to verify, which is crucial.”

The route to compliance is clearly set out. The first stage is an early discussion with the contractor to see if the solution is suitable, followed by a feasibility stage report, with targets identified against operational indicators. The third stage is the life-cycle service agreement with a detailed delivery programme, starting with the pre-construction stage (design development, engineering design and modelling) and then the building phase. After construction, an in-use plan is prepared and agreed.

“The contract establishes the things that will happen months and years down the line, when the building is being used,” said Clarke. “There is a contractual element to it but it’s also a philosophy. It is a voluntary government standard now, but it will be regulatory soon.”

The life cycle contract is inherently design and build, as the contractor has to own the performance of the design, and it includes defects, performance and optimisation measures. The idea is that a building is defective until it performs.

“It is a flexible system, tailored to suit your aims and at every stage of the process we’ll support you in delivering the national building standard,” said Clarke. “There are up to five years of support after construction, so you’re not on your own, as well as a performance review which has to happen at least once a year.”

SCAPE Scotland has just published a new guide to procuring and delivering net zero new build and refurbishment projects through the life cycle solution, which provides an overview of the standard as well as a step-by-step guide from the feasibility stage to detailed design to construction to in-use verification.

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