The ‘Build Upon’ Framework: Helping local authorities to meet net zero targets

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the ‘build upon’ framework
© Ivan Kruk

The UK Green Building Council, alongside the World Green Building Council, several European Green Building Councils, Climate Alliance, and the Buildings Performance Institute Europe have published a framework that aims to support cities and local authorities to measure the impacts and wider benefits of building retrofit

As the built environment is directly responsible for 25% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions, renovating the UK’s 30 million existing buildings is, therefore, a key challenge in achieving the ambition to reach net-zero carbon by 2050.

To achieve this goal, 1.8 homes per minute would need to be retrofitted over the next 25 years. Although an enormous challenge, building renovation can bring a multitude of broader social and economic benefits in addition to reducing carbon footprint, from eradicating fuel poverty to generating local jobs.

The ‘Build Upon’ framework defines a series of environmental, social, and economic indicators that can be measured in a simple and standardised way at a city or project level.

From energy consumption to the indoor health of occupants, the 15 indicators can be applied flexibly across a project or city and provide clear guidance on what issues local authorities can and should measure.

The framework has been developed by a coalition of sustainability organisations and in collaboration with over 30 cities and local authorities across Europe, including Leeds, Cambridge, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Essex County Council.

Furthermore, the framework will enable local governments who wish to optimise the use of quality impact data to measure and track the effectiveness of renovation schemes, increasing awareness about the wider benefits of building renovation, allowing best-practice initiatives to be scaled up, inform renovation policies, and helping to build the business case for future renovation projects.

‘Supporting local government in tracking the effectiveness of renovation schemes’

Simon McWhirter, director of communications in policy and places at UKGBC, said: “The UK is legally bound to deliver net-zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050. With the built environment responsible for around a quarter of the UK’s carbon footprint, our buildings have a clear role to play.

“Building renovation can deliver a triple win for local communities – not only can it deliver significant carbon reductions, but it can also boost local economies through job creation as well as deliver health and wellbeing benefits through improving the quality of our homes – making them warmer, more comfortable and cheaper to run.

“Through optimising the use of high-quality impact data, this framework seeks to support local government in tracking the effectiveness of renovation schemes and ultimately scale up the many benefits wide-scale renovation can bring to communities.”

‘Helping the government to understand the true value of low carbon investment’

George Munson, senior project manager, sustainable energy and air quality at Leeds City Council also commented: “We’ve been pleased to be part of the BU2 process and it’s great the Framework is now finalised.

“We’re working to see how it can be implemented in Leeds to help gather data on the multiple benefits of retrofit projects – ultimately, we hope to use it to provide a strong evidence base to help government understand the true value of low carbon investment, particularly in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. “

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