Following the launch in September of Building the Case for Net Zero – a feasibility study into the design, delivery and cost of new net zero carbon buildings – UKGBC identified a need for further research into the current challenges faced by those striving to deliver net zero carbon buildings in order to rapidly increase their uptake.

This new guidance is intended to help developers and project teams identify and respond to likely barriers throughout the process of delivering net zero carbon buildings. Alongside each barrier is a corresponding opportunity that explores how it can be overcome. The guidance sets out a total of 17 barriers, grouped by RIBA stage, and categorises the opportunities to address them against four themes:

  • Design – ways to integrate net zero carbon into the building design or design process. This includes setting net zero carbon outcomes early in the project’s strategy which can inspire design teams to think innovatively.
  • Cost – ways to finance net zero carbon buildings. This includes accounting for future ‘brown discounts’ and ‘green premiums’ and a shift in perspective to whole life investment rather than just immediate capital expenditure.
  • Stakeholder engagement – ways to integrate net zero carbon into the decision-making process of all stakeholders. This includes identifying growing investor and occupier net zero ambitions.
  • Innovation – ways of capitalising on new processes, mechanisms, and technologies to achieve net zero buildings. This includes using new financing mechanisms and alternative building materials.

This guidance comes as the Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) launches NABERS UK, a system for certifying the in-use energy performance of office buildings. This tool recognises the growing appetite for transparency and disclosure from building owners and investors, as the market begins to shift towards net zero carbon buildings.

Alastair Mant, Head of Business Transformation at UKGBC, said:

“The race to net zero is on and its fantastic to see many developers and design teams setting bold ambitions. Achieving the necessary reductions in embodied and operational carbon requires large scale changes to how buildings are designed, constructed, and operated. There are many barriers along the way and we must work quickly to identify them and the corresponding opportunities to overcome them. We have created this guidance to point developers and design teams towards some existing opportunities and we will keep sharing solutions in order to accelerate the transition to net zero carbon buildings.”

This project forms part of UKGBC’s Advancing Net Zero Programme, which has been made possible this year thanks to the generous support of our Lead Partner the Redevco Foundation, and our Programme Partners BAM Construct UK, Berkeley Group, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Hoare Lea and JLL UK.


A graphic of the 17 barriers is available here.

Unlocking the Delivery of Net Zero Carbon Buildings report can be downloaded here.

Building the Case for Net Zero can be downloaded here.