NABERS, circularity and the metaverse: what consultants predict

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    Andrew Parkin is Global Head of Acoustics and Cundall Futures Group Chairman at multidisciplinary engineering and design consultancy Cundall

    The built environment has struggled with change, but as an industry we need to accept that it is inevitable. As net-zero carbon becomes a driving force on the agenda, consultancies and contractors need to prepare for the changes that are coming. We are in an era of rapid technological advances and headlines that steal the Metaverse. Rather than fear and avoid it, we need to embrace these advances and see them as an opportunity to drive the net-zero transition.

    “The idea of ​​net zero will no longer be part of the conversation, it will be at the heart of everything we are trying to do and everything we are trying to build.”

    Cundall Futures Group listened to leaders from a range of services and sectors to find out what consultants are predicting in the coming years and what opportunities contractors can look forward to. Some of the most important trends include:

    Lessons to be learned from working buildings assessed by NABERS UK

    In recent years, the recently introduced energy rating system NABERS UK has started to have a real impact on the UK workplace sector. It relies on a strong scientific and data-based approach to energy measurement, making it a more reliable and robust energy assessment system than previous systems such as DEC (Display of Energy Certificates). I am. So far, 30 new buildings have achieved his NABERS UK design review target ratings and he will begin to see how they perform in use within the next year. It will be. The next step is to target the NABERS UK office energy rating.

    As we begin to see performance in use, there will be much learning that can be applied to the design and construction of the next wave of NABERS UK rated buildings. It also means landlords need to work closely with tenants to conserve energy by monitoring and controlling energy usage. Looking further into the future, we expect to see more existing buildings obtain NABERS UK energy ratings to avoid becoming stranded assets in property owners’ portfolios.

    Achieving circularity

    A true circular model has no waste because, like energy, it cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed from one form to another. The circular economy has been attracting industry interest for several years as an ideal scenario. In 2024, circularity in the built environment will go beyond words to action, and companies from all sectors will strive to find solutions to make it happen.

    For the built environment, this means reusing, repurposing, recycling, upcycling and increasing the use of recyclable materials. In addition to this, we can expect to see more material passports that digitize information about all components of a product to enable circularity. Take-back schemes, where manufacturers agree to buy back and reuse products at the end of their useful life, are also expected to grow in popularity, especially if the products are not easily recycled. The industry can also expect rebates for Category A responses, given the scale of waste produced by Category A responses and the impediments to achieving circularity. An alternative, more sustainable solution that contractors can look forward to is to leave the building at the shell and core stage and use augmented reality to visualize how the spaces will be tailored.

    The future of the energy sector

    A key milestone towards a net-zero carbon future is the decarbonization of the electricity grid. However, the challenge with this transition and the growing need for electrification is that energy demand far exceeds what the grid can produce and reliably supply.

    The obvious alternatives to fossil fuels are solar energy and wind energy, which are the largest renewable energy sources in the UK. If the industry is to take a net-zero carbon future seriously, it should expect an increased reliance on the electricity grid. The challenge is that they are not a permanent source of energy and are not resilient enough to power the grid. Battery storage energy planning will be important in increasing the use of renewable energy by the grid. They connect to the power grid and store excess solar and wind energy, releasing it back to the grid in times of shortage. There is also the possibility of carbon-neutral power plants that use fossil fuels as a resource, capture waste and carbon, and use them to benefit other nearby buildings and processes.

    Because the concept of localized microgrids is also gaining popularity. This will help communities become self-reliant by eliminating losses caused by long-distance transmission and eliminating the need to rely on a single centralized power grid.


    The concept of a fully digital world, the Metaverse, and its relevance to the built environment is still in its infancy. Different iterations of a building or master plan design can now be reviewed and used to create the most sustainable and low-cost design within set parameters. It also plays an important role in achieving a true circular model in construction. We expect to see a Metaverse as a service that contractors will need to adopt. This could be the next evolution of cloud model sharing on a much larger scale.

    These are just some of the trends to expect in the year ahead. The idea of ​​net zero will no longer be part of the conversation, but will be at the heart of everything we are working on and building. Increased use of technology will facilitate this much-needed transition. As a result, contractors can expect changes to their normal operations. These changes can cause anxiety in the industry, but they are also necessary to build a better future.


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