Report produced with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

The built environment industry should adopt a whole life-cycle approach to assessing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, a new report from Arup has recommended.

The report, which was produced with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, says less than 1% of building projects currently calculate and report their full carbon footprint. 

net zero

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Construction must be better at reducing embodied carbon to meet net zero targets

The report said while the industry has focused on measuring and reducing operational energy use and the carbon associated with it, the importance of measuring the embodied carbon was largely unappreciated.

It said measuring embodied carbon associated with construction, refurbishment and end-of-life as part of the building’s whole life-cycle footprint was key and that the report had found as much as 50% of the whole-life carbon emissions came from embodied carbon.  

Report recommendations for industry to make progress towards net zero:

  • Carry out whole life carbon assessments on all projects, using a consistent methodology and open-source sharing of the data obtained
  • Develop consistent and transparent carbon intensity data for components, systems and materials used by the industry
  • Commit to clear global targets across the buildings industry, including a valid approach to residual emissions (offsetting)
  • Adopt a clear definition of a net-zero building, taking into account whole life-cycle carbon
  • Achieve wider collaboration as individual organizations taking action is not enough