Zero Carbon Certification – A New Real Estate Opportunity

Zero Carbon Certification – A New Real Estate Opportunity

How to ensure a Net Zero Carbon Certification pays off for your investment.

And creates a ripple effect of meaningful change.

Corner of Haussmann style Parisian apartment with zero carbon certification and a leafy green tree in front of it

91% of global GDP is now captured in national net-zero targets.


And yet only 1% of buildings worldwide meet net-zero standards so far. 


This 99% is where the opportunity lies for investors and developers. Zero Carbon Certification is a tool the real estate industry can use to hit those targets, catalyze positive change across the industry, and future-proof investments.

Grid showing 100 squares with 1 square colored in to represent the opportunity for buildings to meet net zero standards
The number of buildings worldwide that meet net zero standards is 1% or 1 block. The 99 other blocks represent the opportunity for developers and investors to begin developing real estate in a way that creates the change we need, while futureproofing their investment.

Doing this now, rather than in 2049, means you’ll quickly reap the benefits of creating more resilient, stabilized investments – an attractive prospect right now.


And you’ll be ahead of the curve in lowering your carbon footprint before the inevitable demands from external forces become impossible to ignore – regulatory, financial, and consumer expectations. 


Below, we will explore what Zero Carbon Certification is. We use the example of an apartment building in Paris and look at how investors and developers can use Zero Carbon Certification to create a better return on investment.

What is Zero Carbon Certification for buildings?

Zero Carbon Certification is a tool that helps buildings lower their negative impact. It does this by significantly reducing the carbon operations and embodied carbon involved in constructing and adapting buildings.


It differs from carbon neutrality because it must encompass the whole supply chain, in other words, Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

How is Zero Carbon Certification used in the design and construction process?

Project teams use the Zero Carbon Certification as their guide throughout the design and construction process to help them make intelligent, energy-efficient design and materials choices. 


Investors and developers use the Zero Carbon Certification to prove that their building robustly meets net-zero targets. This is crucial to satisfy the rapidly changing expectations of finance, insurance, and consumer sectors, now and in the future. 


That’s just the bare bones of its value. Using an industry-leading certification, such as the International Living Future Institute’s, makes it easier for investors and developers to transition to this way of building. The explicit carbon standard, clear criteria, and striking emission reduction laid out by this worldwide zero-carbon certification help bring everyone together towards a common goal, from project teams to contractors, to suppliers.

3 members of a project team wearing hard hats review plans on a laptop on the top of a building

What's involved in the process for Zero Carbon Certification of a residential apartment development?

Let’s say this development is a tenant fit-out for the luxury market in Paris. With existing buildings, the project team defines a scope for the Zero Carbon Certification that changes the major systems of the building or the building’s envelope itself, such as energy systems. For instance, all of the carbon from the energy it takes to heat, cool, and power the apartment building. (operational carbon)


The project team would also account for any carbon produced through retrofitting and renovating, such as raw material extraction, manufacturing and processing, transportation, and installation of building materials. (embodied carbon)

In the design phase, the project team looks for effective ways to reduce carbon. They do this by selecting materials carefully and using efficient building systems that don’t introduce any new combustion. This might involve introducing solar panels or connecting the building to a supplier of renewable energy. 


Once construction is complete, the project team discloses the operational energy consumption over a one-year performance period and the embodied carbon involved in the material and construction process.


The embodied carbon must be disclosed and the carbon offset by using onsite carbon-sequestering materials or by a one-time purchase of carbon offsets from an International Living Future Institute (ILFI) approved source.


All operational energy must come from new onsite and offsite renewable energy. ILFI allows exceptions to ensure that older buildings can be adapted rather than create a demolish and rebuild culture

How Google incorporated a Zero Carbon Certification

Close to St. Pancras Station in London, a building that delights Harry Potter fans worldwide, sits a building that delights sustainable and green building enthusiasts worldwide. 6 Pancras Square, Google’s London headquarters, the first-ever Zero Carbon Certified development in Europe. 


The video below shows a basic overview of how Google approached its Zero Carbon Certified development. And this interview with Google’s Real Estate and Workplace Services Sustainability Partner, Andreas Gyr, goes into more detail.

What kind of return can you gain from Zero Carbon Certified buildings?

The global economy and real estate market are changing rapidly.


Using Zero Carbon Certification helps us be more intentional with the way we construct.


We use design processes that allow you to create resilience. Not just for your investment but also for the major systems that will continue to come under more stress as the climate crisis worsens, such as water and energy.


Here are some ways that designing and developing to achieve Zero Carbon Certification can help enhance your investment, financially and otherwise:

A bright sunny luxury galley kitchen in Paris with original parquet floors
Create more resilience and savings in energy
The volatility surrounding our energy systems seems here to stay as long as we rely on fossil fuels that are so geopolitically charged. Using both onsite and offsite renewable energy systems removes the geopolitical risk. It creates a lower and more certain prediction of operational costs for investors, developers, and tenants.
Build ahead of industry and consumer expectations

A new set of expectations is emerging from people and organizations that will dictate how the built environment responds to the climate crisis.


Tenants, particularly those in the luxury market, expect comfortable homes and are already growing frustrated with absorbing the cost of geopolitical volatility, particularly with rising energy costs. Regulators are insisting on more demanding worldwide zero carbon policies and regulations. Insurance and finance companies are radically looking at the criteria for what they will cover and invest to future-proof and protect themselves.

Gain a position as an industry changemaker and create a positive ripple effect
Moving to a Zero Carbon third-party certified standard in construction isn’t ticking a box; it’s about being intentional in the way we design and construct. When we do this, it moves the whole industry forwards. When a developer seeks materials with less embodied carbon, they impact suppliers who will change their products to meet this demand. These changes have a flow-on effect down the supply chain as people create more meaningful relationships to rise to the challenge of constructing in a better, much-needed way.
Make smart choices that pay off in the long run

The challenge of doing something new requires good decision-making, particularly at the start of a project:

  • Hire a design team working with whole systems thinking, regenerative, and integrative design. This ensures that a project’s potential is unlocked and makes the most of new opportunities.
  • Hire a project management team who know how to navigate local bureaucracy, cultures, and people, creating a much more smoothly running project.
  • Ensure the certification program is rigorous enough to last the distance and cost-effective. Many certifications have ongoing fees and require recertification, which can add up in the long run.

How to get started with Zero Carbon Certification

In France and most of the European Union, the real estate industry faces new regulatory requirements imposed by the EU Taxonomy to ensure that the built environment becomes carbon neutral.


Constructing in this way in Europe requires a high level of strategic real estate knowledge and financial understanding of the regulations and sustainable certification models. Lune Realty exists to provide this complete end-to-end service for foreign investors and developers seeking to build their portfolio in the luxury market in Paris.


We manage all aspects of the investment, from finding residential properties to project managing construction and overseeing the certification and regulatory processes. We can also take care of managing properties once the build is complete, allowing your investment to be as hands-on or hands-off as you like.



Paris apartment at dusk with Lune Realty logo in the bottom right corner

Contact us

If you’re interested in new innovations in the real estate industry and entering the luxury real estate market in Paris headache-free, send us an email to find out how this kind of residential development could work for you, email us at