Net-zero operational carbon buildings: State of the art


14 November, 2023



We are seeing increasing demand for net-zero emissions buildings – from building owners looking to align their property portfolio to corporate commitments, from tenants searching for space that meets their corporate requirements, and from investors looking to deploy sustainable finance in the property market.  

Despite the increasing commitments to reducing emissions in the property sector, there is:

  • No globally consistent and robust definition of a net-zero building; 
  • Not one national policy requiring buildings to have net-zero emissions now or in the future; 
  • Substantial variation in standards set by industry certifications; 
  • A negligible number of truly net-zero buildings globally. 

Achieving net-zero operational carbon buildings means transitioning both buildings and energy infrastructure. We need energy-efficient buildings that can run on electricity and renewables, and we must scale up renewable energy supply and phase out fossil fuels in energy generation. 

This publication identifies shortcomings and gaps in the current global approach to net-zero emissions in building operations. It is the first step in a research project that will seek to draw on expertise across the WBCSD membership to produce recommendations on how to accelerate progress. 

View the publication.