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Fri April 12 2024

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Construction professions call for carbon regulation commitment

1 Feb A coalition of construction industry professional bodies and other organisations is calling for all UK political parties to put embodied carbon regulation in their election manifestos.

Image by Mary Bettini Blank from Pixabay
Image by Mary Bettini Blank from Pixabay

Construction industry and built environment leaders from 11 organisations say that it requires government action to dictate the carbon measuring rules.

It cannot just be left to industry, they say, because it is incapable of agreeing on the rules.

Instead government must set down the rules from above for industry to follow.

With effective leadership, the industry could simply swing behind RICS’ methodology. But it hasn’t, and apparently cannot until it is told what to do.

Will Arnold, head of climate action at the Institution of Structural Engineers, explained: “Without a legally consistent approach to embodied carbon reporting and limits, every project will tackle the problem differently. Professional institutions are working hard to make embodied carbon a core skill in their members – for example, at IStructE our chartered structural engineer entrance requirements now include the need to demonstrate an ability in reporting and reducing embodied carbon on the candidate’s projects. But no matter how skilled the engineer, if embodied carbon remains unregulated, then the reporting and limiting requirements will continue to be different on different projects, costing designers and developers (and ultimately, the public) time and money.” 

Other organisations in the coalition calling for state intervention include the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Construction Industry Council (CIC), the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), the Association for Consultancy & Engineering (ACE) and UK Architects Declare.

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The have produced a paper* addressed to political leaders asking them to include in their manifestos a commitment to move to reduce embodied carbon emissions in construction within two years of starting government.

Specifically they want the next government to mandate the measurement and reporting of whole-life carbon emissions by 2026 for all projects with a gross internal area of more than 1,000 sqm or that create more than 10 dwellings. And then by 2028 they want legal limits on the upfront embodied carbon emissions (emissions due to the use of materials in the initial construction) of such projects, with a view to future revision and tightening.

Lewis Barlow, ICE trustee for carbon and climate, said: “The construction industry has been calling for government action to address embodied carbon emissions for many years. Tools and methodologies to minimise these emissions across the built environment – such as PAS 2080 – already exist. However we still need clear governmental direction to ensure their consistent use and to help maintain our national trajectory towards net zero."

Amanda Williams, head of environmental sustainability at the CIOB, said: “There have been numerous industry initiatives over recent years, calling for government action to reduce the construction industry’s embodied carbon emissions. We now join forces as an expert group to pull these proposals together, uniting with one voice for change and asking government to ensure the UK keeps pace with those who are currently leading this agenda.”

Amit Patel, RICS head of construction professional practice, says: “Measurement and reporting of whole life carbon emissions can be achieved through the integration of International Cost Measurement Standards (ICMS), RICS’ Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment and the Built Environment Carbon Database to enable accurate project benchmarking.”

* Available at www.istructe.org/resources/climate-emergency/embodied-carbon-regulation

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