Introduction to the Net Zero Carbon Guide

Andrew Leiper

Net Zero Carbon Leader and Principal Engineer

Max Fordham LLP

Hufton + Crow

Net Zero. It is a very simple and elegant concept. The impact of one set of actions is balanced out by another to leave a net sum of zero. No harm is done and we all benefit from the activity supported by the balancing actions.

When it comes to construction and architecture the concept is just as simple. We need buildings to meet, learn, play, share ideas, provide shelter and produce the things we need and enjoy. If we can balance out the carbon emissions resulting from the construction and operation of buildings with methods to absorb carbon back out of the atmosphere then we can all continue to benefit from the human endeavour that takes place inside buildings without detriment to the balance of our environment.

The application of that concept, however, is far from simple. In an interconnected world operating a seemingly ever increasing rate of change it is difficult to know what is ‘the right answer’. Complex issues around building materials, supply chains, future energy supplies and the science of carbon sequestration all come into play and must be understood to achieve net zero.

This guide has been produced by Max Fordham LLP’s leading environmental engineers, with help from some of our collaborators, to contribute to steering building designers, building managers, policy makers and anyone involved in the built environment through the process of designing, constructing and operating a net zero carbon building. We have set out the guide as a linear timeline to cover the stages in the inception, design and lifetime of a building and we have included a mix of background knowledge, design guidance, key considerations and tips to help increase the chances of delivering a net zero carbon building.

We are all in the early stages of moving towards a net zero carbon future. Our methods, approaches and knowledge will develop and change as we all learn and share our learning. We have created this guide as an online resource that will allow us to add, remove, amend and generally improve over time and in collaboration.

We hope you enjoy reading this guide and learn something in the process. If there is anything else you would like to see in the guide or would like to contribute then please do get in touch. We intend that this guide develops over time and becomes a continuing source of knowledge and guidance.