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Are zero energy buildings really zero? - RICS at the EU Sustainable Energy Europe Week (EUSEW)


12 Jun 2012



RICS stresses the importance of developing a methodology for measuring embodied carbon in Europe’s buildings and presents the final draft of its information paper on whole life carbon calculation, at a conference organised in the framework of the sixth edition of the EU Sustainable Energy Europe Week (Thursday 21 June 2012).

As the EU drives the requirement for low-energy, nearly zero energy and carbon buildings, the role of embodied carbon becomes increasingly significant.

With the conference entitled 'Are zero energy buildings really zero: from operational efficiency to embodied energy and carbon', RICS aims at raising awareness and providing the latest knowledge, experience and thinking on whole life carbon by:

- Presenting the drivers, opportunities and emerging standards in carbon management

- Discussing the benefits of new build versus refurbishment, and whether the installed energy efficiency or renewable technologies generate real 'net' benefits once the embodied carbon used to make them is factored in.

- Improving the understanding of how the embodied energy needs to be brought into the design decisions made in developing projects in order to ensure that operational efficiency is not prioritised over embodied energy which could lead to a reduced design life and increased embodied energy as the buildings are replaced more frequently.

- Highlighting the need for improved cross-professional dialogue and collaboration with industry and all players across the building chain which has to take part in the carbon mitigation strategy.

At the conference, RICS will present the first draft of its guidance note on whole life carbon calculation*, which details an approach to early stage carbon accounting. This note has been developed over the last two years with the involvement of industry and research universities.

According to Zsolt Toth, EU Policy & Public Affairs officer at RICS:

“The emphasis in Europe recently has been on improving energy efficiency in buildings during the use phase. This leaves out a significant amount of carbon generated and energy used to make and maintain buildings. With this event, RICS wants to open a debate about the role of whole-life (embodied and operational) carbon accounting, emerging standards of measurement and carbon mitigation strategies for both new build and refurbishment projects.

The presentation of the RICS guidance document will introduce and facilitate industry standardisation of life cycle carbon measurement as well as a support towards the EU’s ambition to save energy and reduce carbon emissions from the built environment. “


Notes for editors

RICS guidance note on whole life carbon calculation:

The note stresses the importance of developing a methodological plan to the measurement of carbon and gives comparisons between the levels of embodied carbon within new build versus refurbishment. Calculation methodologies (including assessment boundaries), tools, and data sources for measuring carbon are included, as well as a step by step guide on how to conduct an assessment during the following phases of a building project:

·   design

·   materials and product manufacture

·   distribution

·   assembly on site

Guidance for the in-use and refurbish/demolish stages is currently under development.

Digital copies of the information paper on whole life carbon calculation are available upon request.

The programme of the conference is available here. To register, please contact:

Learn more about RICS sustainability strategy at:

About RICS

RICS is the world’s leading qualification when it comes to professional standards in land, property and construction.

In a world where more and more people, governments, banks and commercial organisations demand greater certainty of professional standards and ethics, attaining RICS status is the recognised mark of property professionalism.

Over 100 000 property professionals working in the major established and emerging economies of the world have already recognised the importance of securing RICS status by becoming members.

RICS is an independent professional body originally established in the UK by Royal Charter. Since 1868, RICS has been committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity – providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society. RICS is a regulator of both its individual members and firms enabling it to maintain the highest standards and providing the basis for unparalleled client confidence in the sector.


The sixth edition of the EU Sustainable Energy Europe Week (EUSEW) takes place from 18 to 22 June 2012. Every year hundreds of organisations and individuals in over 30 countries take part in EU Sustainable Energy week by hosting Energy Day events and activities that promote energy efficiency.

For more information:

Laura Lindberg

Public Relations Manager (EMEA)

RICS - The mark of property professionalism worldwide

T +32 (0)2 739 42 27;