Carbon Neutral Buildings – Creating Value Through Architecture

The construction industry accounts for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions and has a great responsibility, and opportunity, to limit them. At White, we aim to create carbon neutral buildings and we know that this is possible by focusing on design, material selection and renewable energy. But we have to work together.

Creating long-term value

For us at White Arkitekter, architecture is about creating long-term value. We work proactively to ensure that our projects have the lowest environmental impact possible.

We are all facing the same challenges of climate change and increasingly scarce resources. To lead change in our industry is a responsibility we take very seriously. With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the starting point we are working together with others to create a sustainable future.

The construction sector accounts for a significant share of greenhouse gases. We have a joint responsibility to implement the changes needed to limit emissions as soon as possible.

‘Carbon neutral’ and ‘net zero carbon’ have become buzzwords within our industry, but what do they really mean? Below you can read about our definition of carbon neutral buildings and how we aim to get there. The more of us that are working with carbon neutral buildings the faster we will arrive at the net zero goal.

The definition of a carbon neutral building is for us when greenhouse gas emissions are minimised at all stages, including the manufacturing processes, during construction and during use. The emissions that occur are balanced by climate-positive initiatives so that the net carbon footprint over time is zero.

For more inspiration and information – watch our film or read our brochure

Watch our film about carbon neutral buildings here.

Click here for print version and here if you prefer to read on screen.



Sustainability at White

We have a long and proud history of driving sustainability issues in the projects we participate in and we offer a wide range of services. Our strength lies in our holistic view of the planning and building process and, whether your concerns are with the environment, climate impact, corporate social responsibility or financial values, we can manage sustainability issues through establishing your vision, planning, project design and scheduling and on to construction and the management of your asset.

Read more here.

Circular architecture

In order to limit climate change and preserve the Earth’s resources society needs to transition from a linear to a circular economy. There is a need for new ways of working and new business models that can facilitate the transition process. In the Selma Lagerlöf Centre in Gothenburg, White – through strong will and creativity – has succeeded in creating one of 2019’s best Swedish interior design projects, with 92% reused furniture- resulting in 70 percent lower costs compared with the use of new materials.

Read more here

Sustainable solutions

2020 was a tumultuous year marked by the corona pandemic that has affected many people’s lives. White experienced changing market conditions, increased speed in digital development and increased pressure to accelerate the sustainable transformation in the world. It was a challenging year that at the same time gave room for creativity and opened up new opportunities.

Read our Annual- and Sustainability Report here

Carbon Neutral Buildings – The Definition We Use

In a carbon neutral building emissions resulting from the materials, construction and energy use in the building are balanced with renewable energy and carbon storage. Here, we specify what is included in the calculations according to the model that we propose.

Carbon Neutrality – Step by Step

In order to reduce the climate impact of a project we need to define a clear target at an early stage. Already in the first sketches we should strive to reduce the climate impact, whilst planning to meet people’s needs in a way that encourages a sustainable lifestyle. We should also make the most of what is already there, for example by remodeling rather than demolishing and rebuilding.

Through wise design and material choices, we can create efficient buildings with low energy use, where the energy needed is supplied from renewable energy sources. Energy demand can be reduced by optimizing the building volume and orientation, through careful design of the building envelope and by specifying energy-efficient building services and controls.

By establishing carbon budgets, we can ensure that carbon neutrality is a guiding principle in all our projects. The goal is to have a minimum of emissions from materials and energy throughout the life-cycle of every building and to balance all emissions with climate-positive initiatives.

Six steps to minimize climate impacts

  • Define a clear target.
  • Agree a carbon budget and follow it up throughout the project..
  • Make use of what is already there.
  • Minimise the use of materials and energy demand.
  • Choose materials and energy sources that have a low climate impact.
  • Offset the remaining emissions.

Balancing Strategies for Carbon Neutral Buildings

Throughout their entire life cycle, all buildings have a carbon footprint – from the manufacturing of the products and materials used until the building is repurposed or demolished.

The definition of a carbon neutral building, is for us, when greenhouse gas emissions are minimised at all stages, including the manufacturing processes, during construction and during use. The emissions that occur are balanced by climate-positive initiatives so that the net carbon footprint over time is zero. This can be done for example, by investing in solar cells on the roof or facades to compensate for the building’s emissions.

From Carbon Budget to Carbon Declaration – Documented Climate Impact

There are several benefits of calculating the climate impact of buildings. When investing in a home for instance, a buyer should easily be able to find information about the emissions generated during the construction process. A carbon calculation is also a powerful tool for reducing the climate impact of a building throughout its lifecycle.

In January 2022 the Swedish Board of Housing, Building and Planning is intending to introduce requirements for “Carbon Declarations”. For projects in Sweden this means that the emissions that occur during the extraction and manufacturing of certain materials and products, as well as emissions during the construction of the building, must be reported. White’s extended carbon declaration however goes a step further, as we report on the emissions from energy use during the operational phase as well as the climate-balancing strategies adopted.

By calculating and balancing the emissions that affect the climate, we encourage both climate smart construction and climate-positive initiatives. 

With a carbon calculation, we can ensure that every stage of the project is taken into account, and balanced, so that the net climate impact is zero. When the project has reached practical completion and is ready to be occupied, we report the results in a “Carbon Declaration”.

Carbon Neutrality and Collaboration – An Integrated Process

To accomplish a carbon neutral building a clear target is needed, as well as the will and courage to keep at it. Collaboration is required between all participating actors, as well as continuous follow-up throughout the project. We therefore use an integrated, collaborative process in each project.

The project is defined in cooperation with the client and based on the unique conditions of the site. Through an iterative process, we arrive at a building form that is optimal from a climate perspective, without compromising on basic requirements such as robustness, beauty and function.

Carbon Neutral Buildings according to White


If you want to know more about carbon neutral buildings – please contact us!

Anna Graaf

Anna Graaf

Sustainability specialist, Sustainability director


+46 31 60 86 28

Karin Hedén

Karin Hedén

Environmental specialist


+46 31 60 87 30

Rickard Nygren

Rickard Nygren



+46 8 402 25 29

Andreas Eggertsen Teder

Andreas Eggertsen Teder



+46 40 691 70 97


Illustrations & animations by Soja Film

Sustainable architecture

Our mission is presice – to enable sustainable life through the art of architecture. Find our more in our Annual & Sustainability Report 2020


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