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Professional Institutions race to net zero

Posted: 27th October 2021

There is a huge amount of collaboration and information gathering within professional institutions as part of the race to decarbonise the built environment.

Signatories to the CIC ‘Carbon Zero: the professional institutions’ climate action plan’ are working on implementation proposals for the plan to have them ready for COP26, with steps, responsible departments and timelines for each action.

Here are some recent highlights from CIC members and action plan signatories on assisting the UK in meeting its Net Zero commitments.

  • UCEM and Cross Industry Climate Group have created the first, cross-disciplinary, online Climate Framework module on Energy + Carbon. This is a free, online course open to anyone, who is interested in understanding energy use and carbon emissions within the built environment, and how to reduce them. The cross industry climate framework is supported by CIC, industry, education and professional bodies.
  • The Architects Declare and RIBA ‘Built for the Environment’ report has been launched. This brings together a cross-section of research and publications submitted by the built environment sector. Using this evidence and ahead of COP26, the report urges governments to take urgent action, set more ambitious targets and building codes, and embed sustainability within planning systems.
  • The Part Z initiative has proposed an amendment to UK Building Regulations 2010 in support of the principle of embodied carbon measurement and regulation, with a proposed draft Approved Document Z presented as a proof of concept.
  • Professional organisations have been working together to provide course content and publications for the RIBA climate literacy course.
  • Carbon benchmarks between the RIBA, the GLA and LETI are now all aligned. RIBA together with LETI supported the WLCN ‘Definitions’ document issued in May of this year; CIBSE are working with LETI to produce a set of FAQs on the definitions, and are carrying out a review and members engagement on whether to support the definitions.
  • RICS and others have been working on updating the ‘Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment’ guidance note published in 2017 and ensuring it compliments and can work effectively with ICMS 3. It is hoped that this will gain funding approval.
  • RICS is leading the development of the Built Environment Carbon Database that will contain carbon data for entire projects and on materials and products such as concrete and steel. It will be free and users will be able to see carbon data across the projects lifecycle, it will also allow for other functionalities such as custom benchmark creation.
  • As part of their Sustainability Strategy, the BIID has launched a Sustainable Specifying Guide encouraging designers to carefully consider the impact their projects and products may have on the environment and society. The documents are freely available and are being promoted to designers, suppliers and industry members. The BIID has also undertaken a carbon assessment and provided members with instructions on how they can do the same for their businesses.
  • IStructE has launched The Structural Carbon Tool in conjunction with Elliott Wood. This is an excel-based carbon estimator that is free for anyone who wants it to use. This also supports a carbon counting guide, which can be used to calculating embodied carbon.
  • A coalition of industry professionals have been working on the Value Toolkit, a decision support tool designed to change the way the construction industry thinks about and measures value. It provides a means to measure and optimise the social, environmental and economic outcomes of construction projects, allowing for balanced & informed investment decisions.
  • IWFM is working on supporting guidance on scope 3 emissions in the FM sector and re-engineering their sustainability hub so that it provides FM specific information across a wide range of sustainability topics and standards.
  • CIBSE have been contributing to the new draft British Standard on in-use building performance evaluation (BS 40101). The standard has received considerable industry attention and its creation will be a significant step to more consistent methods of evaluating and reporting on in-use performance, one of the actions identified under Workstream 7 of the Carbon Zero: the professional institutions’ climate action plan.
  • CIBSE are carrying out a review of training and free-to-access CPD material. This will be framed against the joint industry Climate Curriculum and will aim to identify gaps and priorities for CIBSE and other organisations to provide.
  • As part of UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, UKGBC has conducted a major industry-led multi-stakeholder study into the government policies and industry actions required for the UK to achieve net zero carbon in the construction, operation and demolition of buildings and infrastructure. Detailed recommendations for policymakers have been made based on the study.