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Press release

1 NOV 2017

New RICS standard on whole-life carbon supports global climate aims

RICS has released its first professional statement requiring its members to follow requirements for conducting whole-life carbon assessments for construction projects.

The new standard, called “Whole-life carbon assessment for the built environment, 1st edition”, sets out how RICS professionals should assess the carbon emissions arising from built projects throughout a building’s lifecycle. It addresses embodied emissions of all components making up a built asset over all life-cycle stages: from extracting raw materials to any maintenance, repair, replacement and potential future demolition and disposal.

The standard will become mandatory for use in May 2018.

The buildings and construction sector is a key contributor to economic growth globally. However, it is also one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide, a major cause of global warming. Energy use in buildings and construction represents more than one third of global energy consumption and contributes to nearly one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The built environment sector therefore has an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions.

The new standard can be applied to all types of built assets, including buildings and infrastructure. It is suitable for the assessment of both new and existing assets as well as refurbishment, retrofit and fit-out projects.

The standard is another important tool that supports larger RICS objectives to make a tangible contribution to the built environment achieving the commitments made in the Paris Agreement during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in 2015.

Ursula Hartenberger, RICS Global Head of Sustainability, said "RICS is working with governments, industry leaders and sector specialists to give real impetus to the commitments made under the Paris Agreement at COP21. We continued this work at COP23 in Bonn last month to further our efforts in support of the global climate agenda. In order to track targets government have signed up to, we need consistency in methodologies and data.

"By going beyond operational and including embodied emissions, this new standard will provide sector stakeholders with an improved understanding and consistent measurement of the whole life carbon emissions of built assets. This, in turn, will help with comparing of results, benchmarking and target setting. And ultimately this standard will contribute to reducing carbon emissions."

This standard is intended primarily for practitioners in the United Kingdom (UK), such as sustainability consultants, building designers, contractors as well as policy makers, regulators and client bodies. This is because the numeric assumptions provided throughout are based on UK locations and standard practices. However, the underlying principles could also apply to other countries around the world where appropriate.

Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment, 1st edition