- RICS new industry standard
RICS draft Professional Statement
Backed by the UK Green Building Council, the RICS consultation on its draft Professional Statement ‘Whole life carbon measurement: implementation in the built environment’, closed on 31st. May. It gives the industry a new standardised approach to Whole Life Carbon (WLC) assessments. The consultation is open until the end of May. When published in the Autumn the final Statement will require any RICS member offering WLC assessments to follow the new methodology.
Simon Sturgis, MD of Sturgis Carbon Profiling, led the industry-wide team behind the statement. He hopes it will quickly become the wider reference point for WLC, standardising implementation and making assessment comparisons more meaningful. When applied to the design process, the methodology prompts architects and engineers to think about how their buildings will be operated, maintained and ultimately dismantled.
Guide for Architects
WLC thinking has had a significant impact, for example in the use of recycled materials. However, Sturgis, new chair of the RIBA Sustainable Futures Group, observes that current BS 159878 based WLC standards have not been consistently applied. He sees the ‘Statement’ as more pertinent to architects and thinks WLC will increasingly change the way architects think about design.
The WLC Concept
It is well understood that a building’s total carbon impact must consider embodied as well as operational carbon. However, the methodology to identify the best combination of opportunities for reducing lifetime emissions, is not. Integrating WLC principles in design, procurement, construction and the entire building lifecycle requires project teams to adopt appropriate timing and sequencing of carbon assessments. This enables them to identify carbon reduction opportunities and monitor a project’s progress towards achieving them.
RICS Guide for Client’s Brief
The UK Green Building Council’s Embodied Carbon: Developing a Client Brief , issued in March, is another detailed and practical guide. It aims to empower clients to request embodied carbon assessments and write effective briefs for commissioning embodied carbon measurements. The RICS intends that these requirements and guidelines are integrated with carbon measurement software tools and BIM carbon calculation procedures. Its’ ‘Statement’ is the detailed working document for consultants carrying out WLC assessments.
Targetting Zero Book
As a guide to embodied and whole life carbon, the RICS has published Sturgis’ book, Targeting Zero: Embodied and Whole Life Carbon Explained. His thesis is that designing with embodied energy in mind offers architects the opportunity to retake the lead from service engineers in the field of low-energy design.
Timber Does All That
As trees grow, they sequester carbon. It remains locked up in the timber derived from them for ever – or at least until it is burnt or otherwise broken down and returned to earth. The felling, machining, transportation and working of timber either ‘Off-Site’ as components, or on site as construction elements, involves less embodied energy than practically any other construction material. Wood is in fact the ‘greenest’ and most sustainable building material on earth. And in Europe at least 3 trees are planted for every one that is felled.
Timber in Construction
The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management estimates that, indicatively, there could be up to an 86% reduction in the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions associated with the embodied energy of building materials if timber internal and external structural elements and fittings are specified wherever possible rather than typical practice (Scottish) building materials. Timber is also a good insulator and timber structures can be erected quickly, can help reduce the energy costs of a house and have better environmental credentials than most other construction materials.