Industry calls on politicians to regulate embodied carbon

A coalition of 11 industry bodies have called for political parties to commit to regulating embodied carbon ahead of the general election.

The Chartered Institution of Building (CIOB) and Construction Industry Council (CIC) are among those who signed a policy paper asking party leaders to contain in their manifestos an aim to reduce the amount of carbon emitted during construction work on a building.

The paper called for whole-life carbon measurement and reporting on projects with a gross internal area of more than 1,000 square metres, or that create more than 10 dwellings, to be mandatory by 2026, and legal limits on upfront embodied carbon emissions to be introduced by 2028.

The organisations asked parties to lay out these policies within six months of taking office.

Amanda Williams, head of environmental sustainability at CIOB, said: “There have been numerous industry initiatives over recent years, calling for government action to reduce the construction industry’s embodied carbon emissions.

“We now join forces as an expert group to pull these proposals together, uniting with one voice for change and asking government to ensure the UK keeps pace with those who are currently leading this agenda.”

The paper was signed by the UK Green Building Council, the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the CIOB, the CIC, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, UK Architects Declare, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, and Part Z.

The paper noted that embodied carbon accounts for around 64 million tonnes of carbon per year in the UK, about 10 per cent of its total greenhouse gas emissions – more than the aviation and shipping sectors combined.

RIBA President Muyiwa Oki said: “Our message is clear – embodied carbon regulation is critical to reaching net zero.

“As built-environment professionals we understand our duty to reduce emissions and have been leading the charge. We now need urgent action from the next government to deliver a greener future that we deserve.”

France, Denmark and Sweden are among the countries to have introduced regulation to record and reduce carbon emissions during a building’s construction.

A general election is due before January 2025, although prime minister Rishi Sunak has suggested it will take place in the second half of the year.

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