Climate change is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Global warming due to human-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions/carbon emissions, may have severe adverse environmental, social and financial effects if temperatures continue to rise. According to statistics from Oxford Future Cities, 47% of all UK CO2 emissions are specifically linked to construction and the operation of the built environment. Sizeable carbon emissions arising from the built environment are attributable not only to the use of built assets – known as operational emissions – but also to their construction, which are known as embodied emissions. This has led to a growing interest in whole life carbon across all sectors of the built environment. In part, as a response to increasingly stringent emissions reduction requirements.
In November, the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference met in Bonn (COP23) and heard from UN Director General António Guterres who indicated that ‘The latest UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report shows that current pledges will only deliver a third of what is needed … the window of opportunity to meet the 2 degree target may close in 20 years or less.’ This was only given more weight because, as was widely reported going into the conference, global atmospheric levels of CO2 have just broken all previous records.
RICS is at the forefront of calculating, communicating and mitigating against carbon in the built environment. In particular methodologies for assessing whole life carbon within the built environment have been enhanced and from May 2018 are manadatatory for all RICS professionals.