Net Zero Terminology Explained

21 Jun, 2021, 4:44 AM |  Blog glossarykey termsnet zero

Navigating the landscape of net zero is difficult, not least of which due to the huge amount of jargon and acronyms.  We’ve compiled this helpful Glossary and would love your input.  Comment below if you think we should add anything or email us at

Australian Building Codes Board
Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council
Australian Taxation Office
Building Sustainability Index

Carbon Dioxide Equivalent
Council of Australian Governments
Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living
Economic Input-Output Analysis
Input-Output Analysis
Embodied Carbon
The total of all direct and indirect GHG emissions occurring during the production processes of the building construction materials. This includes all emissions associated with making the production process equipment, all other supporting business functions for bringing a product to the market, transport of materials to site, and the process of constructing the building itself.
Energy Use Intensity (kWh/m2/year)
Green Building Council of Australia
Gross Floor Area: total floor area contained within a building, including the horizontal area of external walls
Greenhouse Gas
Lifecycle Assessment
Life Cycle Inventory
National Australian Built Environment Rating System
Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme
National Construction Code
Net zero carbon
Net Lettable Area: area of a building or industrial park for which, under a lease, a tenant could be charged for occupancy. Generally, it is the floor space contained within a tenancy at each floor level measured from the internal finished surfaces of permanent external walls and permanent internal walls but excluding features such as balconies and verandahs, common use areas, areas less than 1.5 m in height, service areas, and public spaces and thoroughfares.
Net Zero
(Whole Life) Carbon A status a building achieves when, and maintains it until, the amount of carbon emissions associated with both operational (scope 1 & 2) and embodied (scope 3) impacts over its entire life (including end of life impacts) are net zero or negative.
Operational Carbon
The total of all the direct (scope 1) and/or indirect (scope 2) GHG emission from all energy consumed (operational energy) during the use stage of the building life cycle (incl. regulated and unregulated/plug loads).
Property Council of Australia
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Scope of carbon emissions
Scope 1: Direct emissions from buildings
– Fossil fuel consumption in buildings (boilers, cooking equipment, etc).
– Natural and synthetic refrigerants.
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from building energy consumption
– Electricity consumption by: (i) Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (ii) Refrigeration equipment (iii) Lighting and other building services (pumps, lifts, etc). (iv) Equipment and plug loads (computers, appliances, etc).
– Energy from heating and cooling services provided by utilities and district plants
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from other sources
– Embodied carbon from materials in the building
– Emissions from: (i) water use and sewage treatment (ii) waste sent to landfill
World Green Building Council
Whole Life Carbon
Another term for lifecycle carbon and cradle-to-grave carbon emissions
Zero Carbon Ready
A status of a building that is highly energy efficient and directly uses onsite or offsite generated renewable energy, or alternatively uses an energy supply on track of being fully decarbonized by 2050. This way the building will become a zero carbon (operational) building by 2050 without any further changes to the building or its equipment.

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