European cities and companies commit to net-zero buildings

net zero carbon buildings, cities targets climate
© Tomi Tenetz

Leading European cities including Helsinki, Finland and Valladolid and companies have pledged to slash carbon emissions from their buildings to net-zero

Along with the cities pledging climate targets, property sector leaders BuroHappold Carbon Credentials, Deerns, Grimshaw Architects, Grosvenor Group, Newsec Finland and Ylva have also signed the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

By signing the commitment, the cities and companies pledge to reach net-zero emissions for their own buildings by 2030, and cities pledge that all buildings in their cities will meet the target by 2050.


Helsinki has pledged to be entirely carbon-neutral by 2035 – making this one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets for cities.

Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki, said: “Climate change is the most crucial challenge of our time and buildings are at the heart of the fight against it. The City of Helsinki is committed to taking very ambitious measures in its building stock to reduce heat consumption and increase the use of renewable energy.

“About 45% of Helsinki’s emission reduction potential is related to buildings, so for us it’s the natural place to take climate action.”


Valladolid has committed to releasing an ambitious new law next year to drive district heating and renewable energy in new buildings, and energy improvements in some 3,000 homes per year between 2020 and 2050. Net-zero carbon will also become a precondition for buildings rented by the City Council from 2030.

Óscar Puente Santiago, Mayor of Valladolid, said: “The climate challenge is huge and Valladolid has demonstrated its ambition to improve citizens’ lives by improving our buildings.

“We are working on innovative energy efficiency projects in public and private buildings, retrofitting our buildings and using solar energy. Becoming the first city in Spain to sign the Net-Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment is a great opportunity to demonstrate what must be done.”

Helsinki and Valladolid join 26 other cities that have already signed the Commitment. This climate target is a signal of increasing ambition from European cities which gives an early boost to the ‘European Green Deal’.

The commitments were unveiled at a Brussels summit hosted by the BUILD UPON2 project. Bruno Sauer, CEO of GBC España the project coordinator, said: “As the COP25 climate negotiations open in Madrid this week, the partners of the BUILD UPON2 project are calling on public and private sector leaders to commit to decarbonising their building stock, and work with us to develop ambitious strategies to renovate and regenerate our buildings.”

Private sector leaders committing to net-zero buildings

Private sector leaders are also stepping up to the challenge. Ylva, in the Helsinki area is committing to net-zero carbon in operations across all its buildings by 2025. The company is tackling embodied carbon, a climate issue for construction that is on the rise.

They are joined by Newsec Finland. Under the commitment, all their occupied offices will be net-zero carbon by 2030.

Grosvenor Group, has also signed the commitment. On top of taking property it directly manages – including some historic listed buildings – to net-zero by 2030, the company is committed to working towards all buildings across its portfolio, directly and indirectly-managed, to be embodied and operational net-zero carbon by 2050.

Grimshaw Architects will achieve net-zero carbon in their studios across the UK, Australia, Dubai and North America before 2030. They are also committed to designing net-zero carbon buildings by 2030.

Headquartered in the Netherlands, Deerns is committed to achieving zero operational carbon emissions in its own offices by 2025, and educating and influencing industry to make net-zero carbon mainstream.

BuroHappold Engineering is committing to net-zero carbon in their own business operations by 2021, along with a pioneering target related to their design projects: all new build projects will be net-zero carbon in operation by 2030, and all projects by 2050.

In addition to reducing their own impacts, Carbon Credentials commits to enabling the transition to a zero carbon economy, and in 2019 impacted emissions reductions in excess of 40,000 tCO2e through work with clients.

For Ylva, Newsec, Grosvenor, Grimshaw Architects, Deerns and BuroHappold, joining the Commitment is a pathway to becoming members of EP100 – a global corporate leadership initiative for energy-smart companies, delivered by The Climate Group in partnership with the Alliance to Save Energy.


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