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News & opinion

12 MAY 2022

RICS joins coalition to develop net zero verification standard

With no viable path to net zero being achieved without tackling emissions in the built environment, RICS has joined a coalition of built environment and real estate bodies to develop a comprehensive and consistent approach to defining and verifying buildings as net zero. 

While progress has been made in recent years towards creating a consistent definition of ‘net zero’, the UK Green Building Council recently conducted a market analysis that highlighted the need to create a more robust means for measuring a building's carbon footprint and verifying it as net zero.

Following this work, a coalition of leading industry bodies, RICS, BBP, BRE, The Carbon Trust, CIBSE, IStructE, LETI, RIBA,, and UKGBC, came together to address this challenge, and have developed the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard.

The new UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will  create a standard model to measure and validate a building as net zero. The technical Standard will be published later this year and is being overseen by the Technical Steering Group, to which RICS is a member. The Standard will cover all building types, including new and existing builds, and will set out performance targets to address both operational and embodied carbon emissions, in line with the UK’s 2035 and 2050 targets. Furthermore, the Standard will also extend into procurement and residual emission treatment such as carbon offsetting – allowing for a compressive assessment of an asset's carbon impact.

RICS and its members will be at the forefront in enabling this Standard to be delivered and effective. The RICS developed Whole Life Carbon Assessment will support surveyors in accurately measuring and capturing the carbon emissions associated with a building, with data collected helping to identify and support a building's pathway to net zero. 

Surveyors can further utilise this data by inputting it into the soon-to-launch Built Environment Carbon Database, the tool designed to become the UK’s main source for carbon estimations and benchmarking for the real estate and construction sector. 

Furthermore, the Standard will be governed by the creation of a Governance Board which will ensure a robust delivery of the Standard and its strategic goals.

To further support RICS members with this Standard and its implementation, a webinar will be held 26th May, with the opportunity to learn more and speak to those who have shaped this Standard. You can register to attend here. Further information on the Standard and how RICS members and firms can become involved is found at

This Standard is the latest announcement as part of the RICS commitment towards sustainability and the creation of a low-carbon, energy efficient built environment. This includes ongoing RICS work to develop and upskill surveyors to address the growing need for energy-efficiency and retrofitting, and the creation of the International Cost Management Standard 3rd edition – a world first for cost and carbon management benchmarking in the construction industry.

Richard Collins, Interim RICS CEO has welcomed the development of the new Standard and the significant step towards creating a net zero built environment, with RICS professionals driving forward and enabling this work. Richard commented:

“Measurement and analysis play a fundamental role in progressing sustainability initiatives against targets. The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will provide independent verification that a new or existing building that claims to be net zero, stands up to that claim. 

“It will provide essential data for a range of decision-makers. This is a big step forward to net zero and RICS and its members look forward to providing this key data that will support the UK’s transition to a decarbonised economy”


Sarah Ratcliffe, CEO of BBP said:

“A UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will be critical for asset owners and managers to evidence that their buildings are built and operating in line with climate science. An industry wide Standard will enable stakeholders including investors and occupiers to differentiate between assets that are ‘net zero’ and those that are not. It will take radical collaboration to deliver this project. We look forward to contributing the insights of the BBP’s members and working with other organisations to create a standard around which the industry can coalesce."


Dr Shamir Ghumra, Head of Building Performance Services, BRE said:

“The pace of change needed in the built environment on this issue is getting more significant by the day; this leading group of organisations from across the spectrum of our sector coming together to collaborate in this way is testament to the sense of urgency we all have. Building consensus on this topic is going to bring together all stakeholders and supply chain organisations in a common consistent framework which will itself generate greater efficiencies in the marketplace.”


Dominic Burbridge, Director at the Carbon Trust said: 

“We look forward to contributing to the development of this highly impactful standard, which will be instrumental in guiding the UK real estate industry, the construction sector and the wider built environment, in the rapid and urgent transition towards net zero. Addressing the energy demand of the built environment and the associated emissions is a key driver in accelerating the move to a sustainable, decarbonised future and we are excited to be supporting such an important and pioneering initiative.”  


Kevin Mitchell, CIBSE President and Mott McDonald Global Practice Leader, Building Services Engineering said:

“CIBSE is delighted to be contributing our expertise to support this important initiative on Net Zero. It is urgently needed to deliver a clear standard to demonstrate real outcomes and give trust to clients, owners and occupiers. We look forward to working with the wide range of parties committed to deliver the standard.”


IStructE Chief Executive, Martin Powell, said:

“The UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard will enable individual projects, and thus the wider industry, to understand our progress in creating buildings with net zero emissions. I am pleased that the Institution of Structural Engineers will be supporting the development of this important new Standard.”


Clara Bagenal George, LETI said:

“Not only will this project deliver much needed clarity on how to verify net zero carbon buildings in the UK, but it also brings together key organisations that have been working in this space, to create a robust, industry-led UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard, created through consensus and collaboration based on science.”


RIBA President, Simon Allford, said: 

“This is a really exciting and timely initiative that will help the entire industry to move forward in its efforts to reach net zero carbon. Working together we will address current ambiguities around the much-used term and develop a common understanding, based on clear performance targets, to support all those involved in the procurement, design, construction and operation of buildings.”


Julie Hirigoyen, CEO of UKGBC:

“The Standard will leverage the invaluable data behind UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the Built Environment to establish performance targets which are aligned with science-based trajectories as a vital step towards our industry’s transition to net zero. UKGBC looks forward to working with industry on the development of this Standard to underpin the credibility of all future net zero carbon building claims.”