Have your say as RICS aims for a universal carbon assessment standard

Ann Gray, RICS President

Ann Gray, RICS President, says: "RICS calls on the global built environment community to engage with this crucial consultation on Whole Life Carbon Assessment."

If the stone industry does not take advantage of the opportunity carbon reduction in construction offers it will lose out to materials that do – and concrete and steel are already heavily promoting their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

To make sure stone stays in the loop, it needs to be proactively involved in activities such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) current consultation on the second edition of its influential Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment.

The methodology is currently endorsed and adopted by several governments, leading industry bodies and supranational organisations including the World Economic Forum.

RICS is now updating its ‘standard’, which aims to provide a consistent approach to calculating whole-life carbon emissions in the built environment.

It is more ambitious than the earlier version as it covers all built assets and infrastructure, throughout the whole built environment life cycle, from production of materials to construction processes, uses, and the disposal or recycling of built assets over their entire life cycle.

RICS says it is only by accurately measuring and recording carbon emissions that the construction industry can work towards meeting Net Zero goals that attempt to avoid the worst effects of global warming.

Carbon reporting and accounting should be a priority across all sectors because it is increasingly relevant to clients, investors and property managers, who are already looking for property with a reduced carbon footprint, partly because it reduces energy bills.

The built environment accounts for 43% of all man’s greenhouse gas emissions. Significantly reducing that makes a big step towards Net Zero in 2050.

The RICS ‘standard’ aims to enable the industry to offer reliable and comparable data on carbon output, which will help it to set and meet targets and improve its ability to reduce harmful environmental impacts.

And with moves like the Future Home Standard (FHS) now just two years away, with its requirement to cut carbon emissions from new homes by 75-80% compared with current regulations, time for action is running out.

The current edition of the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment is used in the early design stages of many building projects and continues to influence government policy.

In the UK, a Net Zero Carbon Building Standard is being created with the intent to incorporate the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment Professional Standard’s methodology to assess up-front, embodied, operational, user and whole-life carbon.

RICS hopes governments in other countries will also adopt the standard as they tackle climate change impacts, with the second edition acting as a catalyst for wider adoption.

Ann Gray, RICS President, says: "RICS calls on the global built environment community to engage with this crucial consultation on Whole Life Carbon Assessment.

“The built environment contributes significantly to global carbon output, and RICS is committed to supporting the real estate industry in meeting the challenge of net zero head on.

"Our greatest asset is our members; their knowledge and experiences are second-to-none. This consultation is a historic opportunity for all of us to shape the sector's response to the global challenge of climate change and make a profoundly positive difference to our planet.

"The international scope of this consultation will enrich the breadth and diversity of insight we gain.

“This is important as we recognise that nations and their respective built environment sectors are at different stages in their response to the climate crisis.

“The global nature of our consultation will ensure that the final output is capable of adoption around the world while retaining its role as the principal methodology recognised in the UK.”

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