Net Zero and Solar: Challenges in the Industry

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.


The concept of achieving a net zero energy building is becoming increasingly popular, although, in reality, only a very small number actually achieve this. No matter how efficient a building is, it will not reach net zero energy consumption without the help of renewables; the most popular being Solar PV, particularly for on-site generation. Solar PV has increased rapidly over the last decade but in early 2016, the UK solar industry took a significant blow due to government feed in tariffs being cut by 65%.

“Do not let this discourage you in reaching your goals; there is probably a lot more that can be done first.”

The cuts lead to a drop in solar installations of more than 80%, since the payback periods are now often deemed too long to make the projects feasible. However, do not let this discourage you in reaching your goals; there is probably a lot more that can be done first. Below highlights some of the areas that can be looked at to improve efficiency, before trying to hit zero emissions through renewables. It’s a lot easier to offset your emissions if you don’t produce many to begin with.


Taking a holistic approach to net zero buildings

Understand your energy – Compare the performance against benchmarks, such as the Real Estate Environmental Benchmark (REEB). Establish a metering and energy management plan and utilise data management software, such as SIERA, to identify the high energy users. If you can’t monitor it, you can’t manage it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Establish a metering/energy management plan and utilise data management software to identify the high energy users. ” quote=”Establish a metering and energy management plan and utilise data management software, such as SIERA, to identify the high energy users. “]

Building Fabric – Find a sensible balance between daylight, heat loss and solar gain. Is air leakage evident? Is there a need for solar reflective film?

Ventilation – Focus on minimising fan power and running hours. Can the windows be opened and a combination of natural and mechanical methods be adopted?

Heating and cooling – Systems should be designed for efficient year-round operation and not just to meet peak demand. Implement controls such as a seasonal set point strategy.

Lighting – Develop a lighting strategy using daylight, efficient fittings and controls. The appropriate amount of light should only be provided where it is needed.

Equipment – Implement power management strategies and switch equipment off at night. Where possible, use energy efficient servers, computers, monitors and appliances.

Other services – Saving water saves energy. Are the urinals on a sensor flushing system? Minimise unnecessary lift use. Has power factor correction been considered?

People – Engage with occupants on sustainability issues. Establish ‘green teams’ and provide simple user guides making it easy for them to save energy.

The above provides an example of some of the steps that can be taken to help achieve a net zero building and illustrates the holistic approach it requires. In practice, a comprehensive energy management plan should be implemented, including the conducting of detailed energy audits and execution of identified energy reduction measures.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A comprehensive energy management plan should be implemented, including the conducting of detailed energy audits ” quote=”A comprehensive energy management plan should be implemented, including the conducting of detailed energy audits “]

Although renewables are a fundamental component in achieving net zero, they are by no means a prerequisite for setting a goal to achieve a net zero energy building. In time, subsidy-free Solar PV investment will become more attractive as cost continue to fall, so it’s important that buildings are ready to maximise the benefits when they do.


If you would like to learn more, please contact the EVORA team.

Net Zero and On-Site Renewables: Opportunities and Considerations for Net Zero Energy Buildings

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.


As part of the World Green Building Week 2017 theme #OurHeroisZero, this blog explores the opportunities and considerations for on-site renewables in the wider context of net zero energy buildings.

What are net zero energy buildings?

Net zero energy buildings can be defined in many ways, but on a simple level, it is a building connected to the grid where the energy generation matches energy consumption and balanced out to net zero. Net zero is usually assessed at the annual level, but it is becoming increasingly common to account for finer timescales in calculations to improve analyses to inform decision-making. This can be achieved by finding opportunities at all phases of the building life-cycle from construction materials at the design stage, reduction in energy consumption during operation, implementation of efficiency measures and incorporating renewable energy systems.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A building connected to the grid where the energy generation matches energy consumption and balanced out to net zero” quote=”A building connected to the grid where the energy generation matches energy consumption and balanced out to net zero”]


What are the opportunities for on-site renewable technologies to help achieve net zero energy buildings?

Alongside design, construction, building management factors and small-scale retrofitting such as efficient lighting, on-site renewables have also played a key role in achieving net zero energy for building energy generation and operation. On-site renewable energy generation have helped to harness clean energy, improve efficiencies and reduce dependency on the energy grid.

[clickToTweet tweet=”On-site renewables have helped harness clean energy, improve efficiencies and reduce dependency on the energy grid.” quote=”On-site renewable energy generation have helped to harness clean energy, improve efficiencies and reduce dependency on the energy grid.”]

On-site renewable energy is a popular approach as the energy generated can be used to offset the actual energy use of the building and can even be integrated as part of sustainable building envelope design. It is not possible to strive for net zero at the design phase only, as net zero energy must be realised through on-going operation and maintenance throughout the building life cycle.

The technologies and mechanisms available are:

  • Solar Photovoltaics (Solar PV)
  • Purchase of green energy from the grid
  • Micro heat and power generation systems
  • Wind turbines
  • Energy storage technologies (battery and heat storage solutions)

More advanced approaches are:

  • DC microgrids
  • Smart grid and digital technologies
  • Active facades, e.g. artificial leaf technologies

Solar PV and Systems Integration

Solar PV is becoming a more viable option because of decreasing costs of materials and maturity in the marketplace. The mature status of the key solar technologies makes them key players in the energy world. According to the IEA’s Technology Roadmap for Solar Photovoltaic Energy (2014), it is projected that solar power could generate 22% of the world’s electricity by 2050. Solar energy is therefore a viable contender for energy and CO2 mitigation. Solar PV is also more versatile due its multi-disciplinary approach and scalability. In comparison, micro-heat and power generation is less scalable and wind energy through turbines are usually applied as off-site renewables.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It’s projected that solar could generate 22% of world’s electricity by 2050 making it a contender for CO2 mitigation” quote=”It’s projected that solar could generate 22% of world’s electricity by 2050 making it a contender for CO2 mitigation”]

Of course, climate and locational factors have roles to play in determining the level of renewable energy generating capacities as well as cost and scalability. On-site renewables are however most effective when technologies are coupled together into a system to create a smart on-site renewables DC microgrid, with the application of energy storage and digital technologies. This can prove to be effective for local energy management, as well as scaling up net-zero energy buildings from the single building to the regional scale.

Solar PV as Design

In terms of sustainable building envelope design, there is an opportunity for integration into buildings materials, such as rooftops and facades. Solar PV has been especially popular due to its versatility as in the case of building integrated PV. As well as being decorative and architectural interests, innovative designs can make construction materials more productive and cost-effective compared to traditional building materials. Another element of building design is comfort for occupants which is linked to the wider issue of health & wellbeing as a value indicator for buildings.


What are the considerations for on-site renewable technologies to help achieve net zero energy buildings?

Economics

Market incentivisation is key to paving the way for net-zero energy buildings. This boils down to more cost-effective design and construction. Falling costs of renewable energy technologies have helped to increase the use of on-site renewable energy. Increasing digital technologies can help to align tariffs to real-time pricing strategies.

Balancing Loads and interactions with the wider power grid

For building energy management, there always the need to link power generation to building loads. Opportunities can be gained from balancing supply and demand to optimise performance in terms of energy and costs. On top of this, the peak load times and peak consumption reduction prospects must also be considered, as well as interactions with the wider power grid. Digital technology is creating ways to optimise and adjust demand and supply in real-time which improves energy security from outages, systems integration, reducing operation and maintenance costs.

Scaling it up!

Net zero energy buildings should be viewed at both the local and regional scale since net-zero could be achieved at the single building level, but also with the wider energy grid which is becoming smarter with the application of the smart grid. With more digital data available, it is becoming increasingly possible to use this to inform decision-making.

Holistic approach of design, construction and operation

There is a common view that most opportunities will be achieved at the building design stage. This must however be integrated into the operation of the building and integrated across the building life cycle. This is where on-site renewables present an opportunity for energy generation. A joined-up view must be taken for net-zero energy buildings. This is because a building may be designed to be net-zero, but building operation is the challenge when it comes to energy performance despite the intention at design phase and lead to deviations between modelled vs. actual energy performance.


Concluding Remarks

The role of systems thinking can be appreciated within the contexts of energy management, technological developments, economics and policy. Advances and trends in energy storage technology in the microgrid have opened opportunities for net zero buildings and on-site renewable energy generation. For grid and microgrid management, a mismatch of supply and demand is an issue, however this is being resolved by energy storage. For net zero energy buildings to be realised, a coupling between technologies, systems, solutions as well as an eye for scale is required. This can be achieved by finding opportunities at all phases of the building life-cycle from construction materials at the design stage, reduction in energy consumption during operation and implementation of efficiency measures and incorporating renewable energy systems. It is not possible to strive for net zero at the design phase only, as net zero energy can be realised through on-going operation and maintenance.

[clickToTweet tweet=”For net zero buildings to be realised a coupling between technology, systems, solutions and eye for scale is required” quote=”For net zero energy buildings to be realised, a coupling between of technologies, systems, solutions as well as an eye for scale is required”]


If you would like to learn more about EVORA and how we can help your organisation, please contact a member of the team.

Net Zero and carbon reduction targets: To what extent will it help us achieve them?

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.


The UK target of Net Zero Buildings (NZB) means that new buildings and major renovations should have a net zero impact on carbon emissions from 2030 onwards. This sets the tone for our buildings of the future but what does this mean for our existing buildings? Projections are that half of the existing building stock will still be around in 2050. Even at a reasonable rate of major renovations this still leaves the property industry with its work cut out.

Policies such as the MEES regulations should definitely help to improve efficiencies in existing buildings through refurbishment works and upgrades to take building spaces up to E rating or better. The MEES regulations have undoubtedly got more companies thinking about cost-effective improvements to commercial properties. However, one of my gripes with the whole EPC scheme is that the rating approach is based on theoretical design performance –  the elephant in the room of course being that actual energy consumed doesn’t feature at all.

This means that it’s entirely possible to have a good EPC score on an office and it still be energy inefficient. This is something I wrote about a few years ago with the Better Buildings Partnership and found it was not an isolated example. Furthermore, there are certain types of energy use not captured by EPCs which only potentially complicates the problem. Let’s not forget that addressing actual energy usage is fundamental to succeeding in meeting national and international carbon reduction targets.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Let’s not forget addressing actual energy usage is fundamental to meeting carbon reduction targets.” quote=”Let’s not forget that addressing actual energy usage is fundamental to succeeding in meeting national and international carbon reduction targets.”]

This discrepancy between design intent and actual energy usage has been written about extensively under the banner of a concept most of you will hopefully be familiar with – the ‘performance gap’. Studies suggest that this difference between how we think buildings perform and how they actually perform could be underestimated by as much as 50%.

This brings me to one of my main points. Of course, actual energy consumed is significant but so too is the source of that energy; if energy is consumed we need it to be from renewable or ideally carbon neutral sources. Therefore, yes energy efficiency needs to be addressed but so too does the decarbonisation of those supplies.


Decarbonisation targets are likely to be missed, so what does this mean?

The UK Government has targets to improve the decarbonisation of grid energy supplies but research suggests that this is likely to be missed. Also, with the Government limiting financial support for certain types of renewables, investors are hardly getting the certainty that would really help to boost the market. We’ve seen a number of renewables/solar companies going into liquidation, however, demand on the whole for onsite renewables seems to be maintaining (?)

Clearly, in addition to the grid energy mix there’s a role for decentralised green energy generation. Two trends which will be significant in terms of the overall trajectory of the energy sector are the decentralisation of energy generation and energy storage. These are predicted to both increase rapidly.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Two trends which will be significant are the decentralisation of energy generation and energy storage. ” quote=”Two trends which will be significant are the decentralisation of energy generation and energy storage. “]

So what does this all mean for strategies of property owners and investors? Clearly, there’s a business case for investment in energy efficiency because of the financial impact of operating costs. As a proportion of overall costs of occupation, this can be hugely variable depending on the organisation, but can relate to factors such as the regional location of property as an example. Nonetheless, DEFRA/DECCs energy price forecasts are that they will continue to rise faster than the rate of inflation so the costs are not going to reduce. Overtime, the cost of renewable energy should become more competitive but there’s little sense in consuming green energy profligately. This means that the property industry really needs to make decarbonisation of energy in existing property portfolios part of its strategy.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The property industry needs to make decarbonisation of energy in existing property portfolios part of its strategy.” quote=”This means the property industry really needs to make decarbonisation of energy in existing property portfolios part of its strategy.”]

As my colleague, Paul Sutcliffe,  has said Science Based Targets is an approach that is gaining more momentum and rightly so. However, what’s fundamental to achieving the carbon reductions required is an honest assessment of what can realistically be delivered, at the industry-level, through building efficiency and what will be achieved through greening energy supplies.


To speak to the EVORA team about how we can help your organisation, please contact us.

Net Zero and Science Based Targets – Connecting the Dots

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.


I was recently asked how Science Based Targets are connected to Zero Carbon Buildings – hmmm, I thought, interesting question.

Let’s start with the definitions.


Science Based Targets

In response to mounting environmental, social and political pressure, organisations have recently begun setting science-based GHG emissions reduction targets (‘science based targets’ or SBTs). In doing this, companies are committing to bringing their operational activities and resultant emissions in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global temperature increases below 2oC compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Optional third-party approval of alignment to approved methodologies is managed by www.sciencebasedtargets.org, which is supported by the WWF, CDP, UNGC and the WRI.

The SBT approach is being adopted by companies across multiple sectors as the basis for setting long-term goals for GHG emissions reductions. Importantly, in the long-term the SBT approach may be adjusted to reflect advances of climate science and economic modelling (e.g. to target a 1.5oC increase in global mean temperatures).

Net Zero Buildings

Net zero buildings are highly energy-efficient buildings which uses on or off-site renewable energy sources – to achieve net zero carbon emissions. This definition encompasses all asset classes:  homes, offices, shops, stadiums and theatres of the future.

WorldGBC support the ‘Advancing Net Zero’ project – its aims are to ensure that:

  • All new buildings and major renovations should be net zero starting in 2030, meaning no buildings should be built below net zero standards beyond 2030. All buildings should be net zero by 2050
  • 75,000 professionals are trained on net zero building design and operation by 2030, and 300,000 by 2050.

Laudable – and I can see the 2030 target working with a combination of innovation, creativity and targeted regulation (a carrot and stick approach).  However, the aspiration to ensure that all buildings are net zero by 2050 if a big one.  We are less than 33 years away from this deadline and buildings are designed with much longer life-spans.  The speed of conversion and renovation must therefore increase significantly.  In the UK, Minimum Energy Efficiency (MEES) legislation will ban the leasing of buildings with F and G ratings from 2018.  However, net zero buildings have EPCs of A+ not D.  So, in short, at least in the UK, there is a long way to go.


The Connection?

I believe in SBTs – they require that organisational carbon targets are set in line with the global context and can be all encompassing, covering operational, supply chain and even embodied carbon emissions. However, it should be noted that at least for commercial property, the SBT approach doesn’t actually require that all properties become zero carbon by 2050; rather, a minimal level of carbon emissions performance must be achieved (e.g. ~13kgCOe/m2 by 2050).

As such, a science based target is actually – relatively speaking – less stretching than a net zero building.

Furthermore, science based targets are set at the fund, portfolio or even company level, whereas the net zero buildings agenda is targeting all buildings. SBTS are therefore more flexible.  SBTs can be met based on the average performance of a portfolio, with some inefficient and other efficient assets, which on balance are in line with a 2oC world.

In my opinion though, net zero buildings are a very worthy aspiration and will support any organisation in its aim to achieve performance in line with internationally agreed emissions targets. Certainly for new builds, I think we should be targeting net zero carbon. For existing assets, the challenge is substantial; however, one that we as an industry should be grabbing with both hands.

Net zero buildings are a very worthy aspiration and will support any organisation in its aim to achieve performance in line with internationally agreed emissions targets.

We need a joined-up approach, supported and incentivised by Government, as refurbishing all existing assets is a massive job and should be considered as a national infrastructure project.  However, delivery will ultimately need to be managed by both Government and Business working in partnership.

We need:

  • A strong approach from Government– balancing regulation with incentivisation
  • Visionaries – organisations prepared to lead, to continue to progress the sustainability agenda
  • Communication and voice – organisations like the WorldGBC,  UK-GBC and the Better Buildings Partnership to promote and
  • Adoption

Now, as they say, ‘that’s a big ask’.

However, so much [read everything] is at stake

Come on Property Industry – let’s take the lead!

Net Zero and Health and Wellbeing: Can the ‘Net Zero’ Concept Be Applied to Health and Wellbeing?

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.


‘Net zero’ buildings are highly energy-efficient buildings that use on or off-site renewable energy to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Can the concept of ‘net zero’ by adapted for the health and wellbeing agenda? Well, I think so and here’s why…

From a health and wellbeing perspective, a ‘net zero’ management strategy would involve identifying those aspects of building user health that are detrimentally affected as a direct result of entering the building.

Probably the most obvious example of such an issue would be indoor air quality. For example, buildings with relatively high-levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulates (PM2.5, PM10), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide or ozone (O3) negatively impact on user health. Chemicals in cleaning products and soft furnishing materials, ingress of unfiltered and polluted outdoor air, and poor ventilation effectiveness are just some of the factors that can result in these indicators rising to dangerous levels in buildings.


Using language that better suits the health and wellbeing agenda

At this point, I am thinking: could we adapt the terminology to better suit the health and wellbeing agenda; and, what would a definition for the concept look like? My attempt below:

A health neutral building is one that enables access for all and does not result in deleterious health outcomes for building users as a result of direct increases or decreases in exposure to negative or positive [respectively] determinants valtrex https://valtrexshop.com/ If you have had any problems while taking Valtex tablets of health.

Armed with this definition, I have drawn up a draft list of issues that might be considered in such a health neutral building:

  • Disabled access and access to public transport
  • Indoor air quality (e.g. VOCs, PM2.5, PM10, CO2, CO, O3).
  • Noise and vibration
  • Drinking water availability and quality

Looking at this list, I think that the concept of ‘health neutrality’ could be a useful consideration when conducting a materiality assessment of health and wellbeing issues. Naturally, it’s subjective, but at the very least it could be a starting point for pulling out the most material concerns and therefore those requiring prioritisation.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Could we adapt the terminology to better suit the health and wellbeing agenda; and, what would it look like?” quote=”Could we adapt the terminology to better suit the health and wellbeing agenda; and, what would a definition for the concept look like?”]

Reassuringly and perhaps not surprisingly, the above list looks similar to issues covered by the WELL Standards precondition criteria – requirements that must be met in order to achieve the most basic (Silver) certification. That said, there are some WELL precondition criteria (e.g. nutrition) that are additional to my list and I might argue go beyond health neutrality and are more about boosting the health of building users.


What would a health positive building look like?

Taking the conversation to its logical next step, if one accepts the notion of a health neutral building then what would a health positive building look like? Well, that would be a building that directly supports and or encourages improvement in building user health. Amongst other strategies, such a building might:

  • support active modes of transport (e.g. cycle storage, showers), active design (e.g. accessible staircases) and provide onsite exercise facilities;
  • optimise access to daylight;
  • provide access to outdoor green space and support biophilia;
  • provide multi-purpose rooms (e.g. faith, lactation rooms); and,
  • support healthy nutrition.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Well, that would be a building that directly supports and or encourages improvement in building user health” quote=”Well, that would be a building that directly supports and or encourages improvement in building user health”]

So, to conclude I think the concept of ‘net zero’ [and ‘net positive’] can be applied to the built environment’s health and wellbeing agenda and proves a useful way of considering the materiality of key health-related risks and opportunities.


Interested in exploring health and wellbeing risk and opportunities relating to your portfolio? Don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.

Net Zero and Urban Sustainability: The future really is green

This blog is part of our Net Zero series for World Green Building Week 2017 – read more here.


I’ve taken the name “World Green Building Week” a little more literally than most. All too often our urban spaces are at odds with the natural environment; masses of steel and concrete trying to control and contain the elements. However, increasingly planners and policymakers are waking up to the benefits of incorporating vegetation into our towns and cities, urban sustainability is a trend I fully expect to accelerate in the coming years.

It is an adage as old as civilisation that mankind should seek to ‘dominate’ over nature, and this insistence on control is reflected in the design of our urban environments. This persistent societal axiom has almost certainly contributed to the incredible rate of human technological advancement over the last few centuries, and has resulted in some engineering feats that are nothing short of remarkable, but we shouldn’t forget that nature’s R&D department has had an extra couple of billion years to perfect the art of living on Earth.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Increasingly planners and policymakers are waking up to benefits of incorporating vegetation into towns and cities” quote=”Increasingly planners and policymakers are waking up to the benefits of incorporating vegetation into our towns and cities”]

Take the Amazon Rainforest as an example. It is essentially able to completely to self-regulate its internal conditions, it recycles resources in situ again and again and again, and it has survived millions of years of ice age and El Nino cycles, all the while developing into the most biodiverse ecosystem on Earth. Such longevity is testament to its ability to both adapt to long-term change and to deal with major exogenous shocks; it is the ultimate display of sustainability.


Incorporating sustainability into urban environments

Whilst I’ll admit that the Amazon is far from ideal for human occupation, there are a lot of lessons we can learn from nature, and opportunities to incorporate its sustainability strategies into our urban environments. Some of the major ecosystem services that vegetation can provide include:

1.     Drainage & Flood Prevention

Sealed surfaces such as roads and buildings increase the speed and volume of runoff during precipitation events, increasing the likelihood of disruption due to flooding. Having vegetation present means that some rainwater is caught in plant canopies, before either evaporating away or dripping more gradually to the ground, thereby alleviating some of the ‘shock’ of flooding. Meanwhile, unlike tarmac, the soil in which plants sit will usually be permeable, allowing water to soak into the ground.

2.     Building Energy Usage Reductions

Trees can provide shade in summer, whilst blocking cold winds in winter, so their careful placement can reduce energy consumption for nearby buildings. Meanwhile, green roofs and green walls can act as a kind of makeshift insulation, reducing the energy required for internal temperature regulation.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Careful placement (of plants) can reduce energy consumption for nearby buildings” quote=”Careful placement (of plants) can reduce energy consumption for nearby buildings”]

3.     Reduced Urban Heat Island Effect

As mentioned, vegetation can help cool in situ by providing shade, but it can also help cool whole urban areas by removing heat through the process of evapotranspiration. The albedo of vegetation is also lower than dark surfaces such as tarmac, meaning more energy from the Sun is reflected rather than absorbed.

4.     Improved Air Quality

Via photosynthesis, plants can be used to take up some of the carbon dioxide produced by our cars and factories. They can also absorb other gaseous pollutants and some solid pollutants, as well as acting as retention sites for impermeable particles. The extent of air quality benefits from urban vegetation is still debated, and depends a lot on a number of variables including building structure, vegetation structure, vegetation type, pollutant type, and pollutant levels.

5.     Wellbeing Benefits

Research exists that suggests that access to nature can help improve concentration, alleviate stress, and generally improve the psychological condition of those exposed. Even just having plants in and around the workplace seems to be sufficient to carry at least some psychological benefit.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Even just having plants in the workplace seems to be sufficient to carry at least some psychological benefit.” quote=”Even just having plants in and around the workplace seems to be sufficient to carry at least some psychological benefit.”]

6.     Aesthetics

Maybe it’s just me, but I think plants look pretty. The green wall on the side of the Rubens at the Palace Hotel in London is definitely worth a look, being both innovative in design and spectacular to look at.

Perhaps even more telling than the long list of benefits, is the seemingly short list of downsides to incorporating vegetation into urban spaces.


So what are the downsides?

The key issue for most places will be to do with space, which is a finite and valuable resource in modern cities. However, from rooftop gardens to green walls, people are finding new and innovative ways to integrate vegetation into even the densest urban areas, and I believe that all cities have measures available to them for improving their utilisation of available space if local governments, planners, building owners, and tenants are willing to innovate.

Other issues include the cost associated with the maintenance of vegetation, and the minor risk of damage from falling trees. However, personally I view these as minor prices to pay compared to the potential benefits that are on offer.


In conclusion, for any problem we create in our modern urban environments, nature usually has a solution. We only have to be willing to find ways to integrate it, then we can just let it help us out.

World Green Building Week 2017 – Advancing Net Zero Buildings

25th September to 1st October is World Green Building Week 2017 (WGBW). Run by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), this annual event is an opportunity to empower the green building community to ‘deliver green buildings for everyone, everywhere’.


Earlier this year, WorldGBC released a report ‘From Thousands to Billions – Coordinated Action towards 100% Net Zero Carbon Buildings By 2050’ in which it calls for a dramatic and ambitious transformation towards a completely zero carbon built environment.

As a continuation of this campaign, WGBW 2017 focuses on net zero buildings which use clean energy, are highly efficient and don’t waste energy – making them climate change heroes.

“Did you know that buildings contribute to climate change? They account for over a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But that can change.

When buildings are net zero they use clean energy, are highly efficient and don’t waste energy – helping us to win the fight against climate change. That makes them heroes. Let’s make all buildings net zero by 2050.”

As a UK Green Building Council member, for WGBW 2017 the team at EVORA will be sharing their insights in a series of blog posts about net zero buildings, including:

  • Incorporating nature into cities
  • Challenges in the solar industry
  • BIM technologies
  • The health and wellbeing agenda
  • Opportunities and considerations for on-site renewables
  • Achieving carbon reduction targets
  • The role of the EU ETS
  • Science Based Targets

Stay tuned to our social media channels and check out the hashtags #WGBW2017 and #OurHeroIsZero for more news.

12 months to transition to ISO 14001:2015 – A Systems Approach

Last week, our Director, Paul Sutcliffe, blogged on the transition to ISO14001:2015. Paul’s blog highlighted the main changes and opportunities associated with the new standard.

As a follow-up, I provide below, a deeper delve into the new standard requirements. It’s now just a year to go until the transitional deadline on 15th September 2018, at which point certificates for the 2004 standard will no longer be valid. Is it time to hit the panic button? Certainly not, but now’s the time to take action, especially since the deadline for many will likely be much sooner.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Is it time to hit the panic button? Certainly not, but now’s the time to take action #ISO14001″ quote=”Is it time to hit the panic button? Certainly not, but now’s the time to take action, especially since the deadline for many will likely be much sooner.”]


Prioritisation is crucial – focus on integration

At this stage, prioritisation is crucial. Focus first on any changes to existing organisational processes; get this ball rolling from the outset. The key to be able to best demonstrate many of the new requirements is integration. In my experience, as both a consultant and an external lead auditor, integration of environmental management controls with existing business practices always proves to be the biggest hurdle but once achieved, the full benefits of the environmental management system (EMS) are realised.

As such, section 5.0 of the new standard – Leadership – is where initial efforts should be focused, particularly as this may involve changes to company processes which can often take time to embed. A conversation needs to be had with senior management to emphasise that they are not necessarily expected to do more, but they are expected to know more. This is best achieved through the incorporation of EMS requirements into existing business processes. For example, the introduction of environmental performance progress updates into management meeting agendas. Complying with the other requirements (known as clauses in the standard) will be made significantly easier with this approach. Clauses such as 7.0 Support, 9.0 Performance Evaluation and 10.0 Improvement heavily rely on management and so it’s important these areas are targeted in the first instance.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Focus first on any changes to existing organisational processes; get this ball rolling from the outset” quote=”Focus first on any changes to existing organisational processes; get this ball rolling from the outset”]

Prevent scope confusion – concentrate on context

Next, concentrate on the clauses where there is less of an impact on embedded company procedures, such as 4.0 Context. This clause does certainly require some thought and its importance is often overlooked. If applied correctly, it ensures continuity, clear boundaries and a sense of direction, preventing scope confusion and making everyone’s life, especially the auditor’s, much easier. Providing the previously discussed clauses have been addressed appropriately, the final two clauses left to mention, 8.0 Operation and 6.0 Planning, should be relatively straightforward to comply with. Of course, the industry type certainly makes a difference to the level of work required, particularly with the new ‘life cycle’ requirement under Operation. The ‘life cycle perspective’ sounds a lot more resource intensive than it needs to be, especially for office based companies. Remember, auditors are still finding their feet with the new requirements and will often be satisfied with evidence that this has at least been thought about, seismic changes to the company’s procurement policies are not going to be expected!

[clickToTweet tweet=”If applied correctly, it ensures continuity, clear boundaries and a sense of direction, preventing scope confusion” quote=”If applied correctly, it ensures continuity, clear boundaries and a sense of direction, preventing scope confusion”]

Practical solutions for tight deadlines

This blog is designed to provide more information on transition planning. EVORA are well versed and experienced in the transitioning process, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Of course, it should also be mentioned that certification is not always necessary and many of our clients operate environmental management systems aligned (but not certified) to ISO 14001.  Regardless of certification status, the new ISO 14001 standard is a tool that if implemented correctly, provides a robust and effective framework that operates throughout the business, not alongside it. As a result, those with aligned systems should also consider changes introduced by the new standard, that will help deliver benefits.

[clickToTweet tweet=”ISO 14001 is a tool that if implemented correctly, provides a robust and effective framework ” quote=”Regardless of certification status, the new ISO 14001 standard is a tool that if implemented correctly, provides a robust and effective framework”]


For more information on updating your EMS to ISO 14001:2015, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

EVORA Partners With Qube Global Software – A Leading Provider of Property and Facilities Management Software

We are delighted to announce that we have partnered with Qube Global Software through its expanding Connect Partner Programme, further supporting Qube’s goal of showcasing best of breed technology and services to its customers.


EVORA Partners With Qube Global Software

With an ever-increasing emphasis being placed on environmentally-efficient buildings, our expert services have been adopted by some of the UK’s largest investment companies to ensure their portfolios meet strict and often complex regulatory requirements, while optimising the performance of their buildings.

Through a holistic approach, we deliver end-to-end sustainability solutions for property managers and owners that are tailored to their specific needs, developed for the real estate sector.

[clickToTweet tweet=”@evoraglobal Partners With @QubeGlobal Software – A Leading Provider of #Property and #FacMan #Software” quote=”EVORA Partners With Qube Global Software – A Leading Provider of Property and Facilities Management Software”]

Paul Manning, Executive Sales Director at Qube Global Software, says:

“Qube’s comprehensive suite of tailored property management functions is used by more than 1000 organisations, and consistently helps clients to deliver increased return on investment and portfolio growth.

Additionally, our real estate investment software is proven to help users manage properties anytime, anywhere by providing a panoramic view of their assets. EVORA offers the same excellent service for sustainability and energy management, and is a perfect complement to our existing solutions.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘@evoraglobal offers excellent #sustainability and #energymanagement services’ Paul Manning of @qubeglobal” quote=”EVORA offers excellent sustainability and energy management services, and is a perfect complement to Qube’s existing solutions.”]

To support our experienced consultancy, we offer both a highly-polished sustainability management software solution, SIERA, as well as technical engineering services through our specialist division, EVORA EDGE. Combined, we can provide unrivalled end-to-end real estate sustainability solutions, delivering strategic goals that achieve optimal performance of buildings.

SIERA is an innovative and easy-to-use environmental management software, which is leading the way in the real estate sector. SIERA combines powerful data acquisition capabilities with sophisticated data analysis tools, simplifying the complexities of regulatory and voluntary reporting. In addition, SIERA’s ground-breaking energy Monitoring & Targeting (M&T) module automatically alerts you of energy efficiency opportunities in buildings, enabling savings to be quickly achieved.

Chris Bennett, Managing Director at EVORA, says:

“By understanding and addressing clients’ risks, then realising the opportunities, we are able to offer practical and easy-to-understand strategic advice combined with intelligent tools capable of putting it into practice. We look forward to working with Qube users in this way, and to exploring the many potential benefits of this exciting new relationship.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”@evoraglobal offers practical strategic advice combined with intelligent tools capable of putting it into practice.” quote=”‘We offer practical and easy-to-understand strategic advice combined with intelligent tools capable of putting it into practice.’ Chris Bennett of EVORA”]


To find out more about effective sustainability management, you may wish to attend a joint Qube-EVORA webinar that will run on Wednesday, 11th October.

Those who attend the Qube World event on 31st October will also have the chance to learn about our solutions, as we are the Platinum Sponsor.

ISO 14001:2015 – Transition Planning Should Not Be A Headache

If you operate an ISO 14001 environmental management system (EMS) – certified to the 2004 issue of the standard, then you have 1 year left to transition to the revised 2015 version.


ISO 14001:2015 The Changes

ISO 14001:2015 has changed significantly (when compared to its predecessor) and has also introduced a number of entirely new requirements. Overall, there has also been a change in emphasis.

A key theme of ISO 14001:2015 is leadership and commitment to ensuring that environmental considerations are part of the strategic decision making process.

Environmental management must be part of everyday business activities – it cannot be viewed as an independent exercise. Whereas previously, top management could essentially delegate the EMS, there is now increased emphasis (and specific requirements) setting out the need for senior management involvement. Additionally, the EMS will need to consider potential impacts of the environment to determine internal and external risks and opportunities.

Other new requirements focus upon life-cycle analysis of operational aspects and the need to define performance indicators.

The Good News

We have seen a fair bit of scaremongering about the changes needed.  In my experience, external assessors all state that it’s a lot of work.  However, whilst there is a fair bit to think about, it can be managed in a straightforward and efficient way.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Don’t panic! The transition to ISO 14001:2015 can be managed in a straightforward and efficient way.” quote=”Don’t panic! The transition to ISO 14001:2015 can be managed in a straightforward and efficient way.”]

To date, we have helped numerous clients transition to the new standard, with limited fuss.  Effective environmental management systems are a force for good. For those organisations participating in GRESB, see my colleague and fellow director Ed Gabbitas’ blog on the benefits of an EMS for more information on this matter.

However, all too often, companies get bogged down in detail and procedure.  Updating your EMS to meet ISO 14001:2015 requirements presents the ideal opportunity to take stock and review how your approaches can be enhance to help deliver continual improvement.


For more information on updating your EMS to ISO 14001:2015, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.