Despite growing enthusiasm for green building, carbon measurement not impacting on material choice

Nearly half of construction professionals globally are not taking embodied carbon measurements, according a new RICS survey. 

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) latest global sustainability report reported that 43% of respondents said they do not take such measurements and found that even where carbon is assessed, there is little evidence it is impacting on choice of materials. 


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RICS found little evidence carbon assessment was impacting on materials choices

It comes despite high enthusiasm for green schemes, with occupier and investor demand for sustainable buildings rising in the UK and across the world. 

Around three-fifths in the UK said demand had risen to some extent in the past year, stronger than the global average, which stood at 44%, but behind Europe, which recorded the highest global sentiment at 73%. 

The RICS said the lack of adoption of embodied carbon measurements could be linked to investors seeing high initial costs as the biggest hindrance to investment in green buildings. 

A third of industry professionals said a lack of common standards was also an obstacle to investment, while others identified the lack of clarity around new UK energy performance certificate (EPC) standards for commercial real estate as a major outstanding issue. 

Tina Paillet, president elect at RICS, said the report showed the UK was among leading nations in sustainable real estate but that the country needed to “take greater steps” to catch up with Europe. 

“We cannot tackle global emissions without substantially reducing embodied and operational emissions from buildings and infrastructure,” he said. 

“What we can measure, we can then manage – understanding the scale and scope of emissions is a key first step. Sustainability is much wider than carbon emissions, and RICS will continue to support professionals through our range of standards, existing and in development.”