3 min read 26 Apr 22
In principal, net zero buildings (or net zero whole life buildings) neutralise greenhouse gas emissions across the duration of their lifespan, from development to ongoing use. This can be achieved by improving energy efficiency and generating, or use of, renewable energy; any remaining emissions that cannot be eliminated during construction or operation may be offset through climate-positive initiatives, so that a building’s net carbon footprint over time equates to zero. Buildings that produce more sustainable energy than the carbon emissions they create can reflect net positive, or net positive operational assets.
Achieving net zero carbon buildings poses myriad challenges. At a fundamental level, clarity is needed around what whole life net zero truly means. For example, whether a specific level of energy efficiency must be achieved for a building to be net zero operational carbon. Net zero certification schemes, along with active real estate players, will play an important role in pinpointing the required standards.
Owning real estate that reflects net zero carbon, for investors, can help to attract and retain tenants and ultimately drive investment value, with increasing polarisation between green buildings and assets that fall short.
M&G is making headway towards net zero carbon, marked by green building certification across more than a third of our buildings worldwide3. Some assets are ahead of the curve, including the Atsugi Nairiku Logistics Centre in south west Tokyo which provides more sustainable energy than it requires.
The four-storey, multi-let fulfilment centre, developed by M&G in 2017, ticks all the necessary boxes for efficient goods distribution: large floor plates, ramp up access and good access to power. It also represents best in class sustainability standards, reflecting an A rating as part of Japan’s CASBEE green building certification.
Photo credit: M&G Real Estate
Energy saving measures such as LED lighting throughout the building help to minimise energy use and reduce costs for tenants. An expanse of photovoltaic solar roof panels, totalling 13,500 cubic metres, generate electricity equivalent to 1,950 megawatt hours (MWh) per year on average. This feeds into Japan’s electricity grid and provides enough energy to meet the annual needs of approximately 500 households in Japan.
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