Setting the Standard for Net Zero

March 9, 2021 4 Minute Read


If we’re serious about addressing the effects and causes of climate change it’s time to go beyond compliance, and the industrial and logistics sector is doing just that.

At the same time that China pledged carbon neutrality by 2060, and world leaders signed the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, putting wildlife and the climate at the heart of post-pandemic economic recovery, GLP, a leading logistics investor, developer and operator announced the completion of Magnitude 314 at Magna Park; the first net zero embodied carbon development verified as Net-Zero for Construction in line with the UK Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework Definition.

Leading developers have announced similar commitments to Net Zero in Construction, which means that Net Zero Ready is fast becoming the industry standard for new developments. It gives occupiers and operators the best possible platform from which to turn up the dial themselves and set Net Zero in Operation targets for their own business activities. 

Net Zero Ready buildings are designed to promote energy efficient and low carbon operation using passive design principles and optimising daylight and efficient technologies like air source heat pumps, LED lighting, and photovoltaics. Simple design measures such as strengthened roofs allow occupiers to install additional PV and battery storage areas at a later date to enhance their operational performance further. This approach to base building design makes a huge contribution to helping occupiers achieve and maintain net zero carbon in operation. The energy source is a vital component of net zero too and needs to be from an appropriate renewable energy supply that can demonstrate additionality in accordance with RE100 and UK Green Building Council guidance.

Recognising that the logistics industry contributes 7% to the global emission of CO2, the global transport company Kuehne + Nagel has announced it will offer carbon neutral transport from 2020 onwards. The company’s commitment says – 

“We promise to provide our customers with environmentally friendly, sustainable and innovative supply chain solutions that will reduce our collective CO2 footprint and help stakeholders achieve their bold environmental Targets”

The conversation about a net zero target for new development is now relatively mature but what about existing buildings? Eighty percent of the existing building stock will still be in use by 2050 so it’s clear we also need a strong focus on improving and retrofitting what already have.

CBRE Global Investors is leading the charge in the industrial and logistics sector. In collaboration with CBRE Advisory it is applying CBRE’s proprietary Star Standards that champion the sustainable refurbishment of existing industrial stock in its portfolio.

Industrial and logistics property professionals have to start thinking about sustainability at every stage of the building lifecycle. Too often in the past, a disconnect between developers and occupiers meant that base buildings weren’t sufficiently equipped to support occupiers’ ambitions for low energy, low carbon operation. Developers on their part may have felt that spending money on building infrastructure that might never be used was wasteful and impacted the bottom line. Creating an effective bridge between construction and operation has been the key to achieving a new joined up building lifecycle paradigm. The adoption of policy objectives at a national, even a global level, has forged a much closer alignment between the agendas of developers, occupiers and investors. The widespread acknowledgment of the importance of climate change has been a culture shift in many parts of society. For those of us involved in industrial and logistics buildings there is finally virtue and value in pursuing net zero, and both – driven by urgency for change - are powerful incentives for the sector.