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Wed May 18 2022

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Arup cranks up its eco credentials

9 Nov 21 Consulting engineer Arup has committed to undertaking whole lifecycle carbon assessments for all its buildings projects – new and retrofit – from next year.

The firm has also announced that it will take on no business from the energy sector that involves the extraction, refinement or transportation of hydrocarbon-based fuels. 

Arup says that whole lifecycle carbon assessment of buildings – rather than just considering the embedded carbon in the construction process – is needed for the built environment to make the step-change in reducing carbon emissions that many want to see.

Whole lifecycle carbon assessments incorporate both embodied and operational carbon. By quantifying the scale and source of carbon emissions generated during the lifespan of a building, Arup says, it will be better placed to identify the best approach to carbon reduction.

From April 2022 Arup expects to be conducting thousands of whole lifecycle carbon assessments every year. It is also intends to developing a methodology to extend whole lifecycle carbon assessments to its infrastructure work for clients.

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In a recent report, Arup and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development suggested that as much as 50% of the whole lifecycle carbon emissions from buildings come from embodied carbon – generated from the manufacturing and transport of materials and the construction process. Yet embodied carbon remains routinely overlooked by the built environment sector, Arup says.

Arup has also set out a new approach to its work for the energy sector. From April 2022, Arup’s energy commissions will focus entirely on low-carbon solutions, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, and hydrogen projects – it will have nothing to do with coal, oil or methane.

Arup Group chair Alan Belfield said: “Whole lifecycle carbon assessment is the next step that must be taken to unlock decarbonisation of the built environment at scale. Our commitment to undertaking whole lifecycle carbon assessment for all of our buildings work means that for the first time we will have the data to share with our clients and with industry partners about the precise actions to be taken to decarbonise buildings – new or existing – most effectively.”

Cristina Gamboa, chief executive of the World Green Building Council, said: “Delivering net zero buildings requires transformative action by industry leaders. Arup’s decision to incorporate whole lifecycle carbon assessment for all of its buildings commissions, and on a global basis, is game-changing and it will help to accelerate the buildings sector’s progress toward net zero. Arup’s decision is precisely the type of advocacy we encourage signatories of WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to take. The commitment now incorporates requirements to address embodied carbon as a part of a whole lifecycle carbon approach.”

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