Building a greener 2050: Embracing the whole life carbon and net zero design

As the global community intensifies its efforts to combat climate change, the construction industry faces unprecedented pressure to adopt sustainable practices. Central to this endeavour is the concept of Whole Life Carbon (WLC) assessment and Net Zero design. By integrating these principles, we can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and pave the way for a greener 2050.

Understanding Whole Life Carbon (WLC) 


Whole Life Carbon encompasses all greenhouse gas emissions associated with a building throughout its lifecycle from material extraction and manufacturing to construction, use, and eventual demolition. This comprehensive approach ensures that we consider both embodied and operational carbon, providing a true reflection of a building’s environmental impact. 

Embodied vs. Operational Carbon 


Embodied carbon refers to emissions generated during the production and construction phases, while operational carbon covers emissions from energy use during the building’s occupancy. Historically, the focus has been on reducing operational carbon; however, as buildings become more energy-efficient, embodied carbon’s significance has grown.

The Path to Net Zero 


Net Zero buildings aim to balance the amount of greenhouse gases emitted with the amount removed from the atmosphere. Achieving this balance involves reducing emissions through efficient design and construction practices and offsetting any remaining emissions. 

Key Strategies for Net Zero Design 

  1. Efficient Design and Construction:
      1. Build Nothing: Challenge the necessity of new construction by maximising the use of existing assets. 
      2. Build Less: Optimise the operation of existing assets to reduce the need for new construction. 
      3. Build Clever: Use low-carbon materials and minimise resource consumption through innovative design.
      4. Build Efficiently: Embrace new technologies and eliminate waste​​.

  2. Low-Temperature Domestic Hot Water (DHW) Systems:
    DHW systems in the world account for a significant portion of residential energy consumption. By operating below 55°C (131°F), these systems can reduce carbon emissions and align with Net Zero goals.

  3. Engaging with Communities:
    Successful Net Zero projects require community engagement. By involving stakeholders in the design and decision-making processes, projects can address local needs and ensure long-term sustainability​​. 

Case Studies: Implementing WLC and Net Zero Principles 

Domestic Hot Water Systems 

A study presented at the CIBSE Technical Symposium highlighted the impact of various DHW systems on whole life carbon emissions. Systems operating at lower temperatures, such as 45-50°C, demonstrated significant reductions in WLC, even when accounting for the use of chemical dosing systems. This underscores the potential of innovative DHW solutions to contribute to Net Zero targets​​. 

Climate Control Systems 

Another case study focused on climate control systems for office buildings. By comparing seven HVAC systems, the study provided insights into minimising whole life carbon emissions. The findings emphasised the importance of selecting low-carbon technologies and optimising operational efficiency through advanced benchmarking tools​​.

VEXO‘s Role in a Greener Future 


At VEXO, we are committed to supporting the transition to Net Zero through our innovative products and solutions. Our advanced HVAC system protection solutions are designed to reduce both embodied and operational carbon, helping our clients achieve their sustainability goals.

Our Net Zero Essentials
  1. X-POT combines filtration, air and dirt separation, and chemical dosing in one compact unit. This innovative solution ensures optimal water quality and system efficiency, reducing maintenance needs and extending the lifespan of HVAC systems. By improving system performance, the X-POT helps lower operational carbon emissions and enhances overall energy efficiency. 
  2. Y-MAG is a high-efficiency y-type magnetic filter strainer designed to capture magnetite and other metallic debris from heating and cooling systems. By maintaining the filter mesh free and water circulation, the Y-MAG enhances the performance and efficiency of HVAC systems, leading to reduced energy consumption and lower operational carbon emissions. Its easy installation and maintenance make it a cost-effective solution for sustainable building operations. 
  3. S-BMS is an advanced building management system that integrates various HVAC controls into a single, user-friendly platform. It allows for real-time monitoring and control of HVAC systems, optimising energy use and reducing waste. The S-BMS enables building managers to implement energy-conservation strategies, track performance, and ensure compliance with sustainability standards. By providing actionable insights into balancing systems, S-BMS supports the achievement of Net Zero targets through efficient building operations. 



Building a greener 2050 requires a holistic approach that encompasses the entire lifecycle of buildings. By embracing Whole Life Carbon assessment and Net Zero design principles, we can create sustainable, energy-efficient structures that meet the demands of the future. VEXO is proud to provide innovative solutions that help our clients achieve their sustainability objectives. Together, we can build a greener, more resilient world for future generations. 

For more information on reducing embodied carbon with our innovative products, book a demo or get in touch with our technical team. 



Embedding Net-Zero Carbon Whole Life Carbon for DHW Systems. CIBSE Technical Symposium 2024. 

Engaging with Communities to Meet the Net Zero Target. CIBSE Technical Symposium 2024. 

Whole Life Carbon Analysis and Framework of Climate Control Systems for Net Zero Designs. CIBSE Technical Symposium 2024. 

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