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Press release

7 NOV 2022

RICS calls on UK Government to help close gaps in building decarbonisation

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) today released a new report highlighting the need for the UK to significantly shake up the UK's carbon reduction policies in the built environment.

The report identifies several critical gaps in the UK's carbon policy that must be filled to meet net-zero goals by 2050. Currently, the UK has no decarbonisation targets at the level of industry sub-sectors and single buildings. The current metrics mandating building performance also do not easily translate into total carbon output. These gaps mean that it is challenging to track buildings' carbon output and if retrofits are achieving their stated reductions. There is also sparse data on the embodied carbon output of buildings. Embodied carbon is the emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole lifecycle of a building or infrastructure.

To close these gaps, the report calls for science-based decarbonisation targets for UK real estate at sub-sectoral and asset levels. Combined with this, the paper asks the UK Government to establish a national programme to fund retrofit projects, along with the following changes:

  • Improve the EPC scheme to make it fit for the different purposes that it serves - changing the way the scheme is calculated, presented, and used.
  • Accelerate the development of a national performance-based rating scheme based on the NABERS UK system
  • Introduce embodied carbon requirements in a new section of the Building Regulations

Crucially the report calls for the means to track the lifetime carbon output of each building. This means adopting the RICS Professional Statement on Whole-Life Carbon Assessment as national methodology; mandating embodied carbon assessments to be conducted at design and completion stages; and introducing maximum limits to embodied carbon.

Fabrizio Varriale, Place and Space Analyst at RICS, said: "Crucial changes need to be made in the way that carbon output is tracked in the UK's built environment. By implementing the policy recommendations set out in this report, the UK Government will maximise the impact that sustainability policies in the built environment sector will bring to achieving its net zero goals by 2050.

"This is an opportunity to radically shake up the sector and place it at the forefront of the UK's carbon reduction initiatives by advancing a scientifically-focussed and data-driven sector that swiftly reacts and implements the changes needed to meet carbon output goals."



Notes for editors:

A copy of the full report may be found at this link.

About RICS

We are RICS. Everything we do is designed to effect positive change in the built and natural environments. Through our respected global standards, leading professional progression and our trusted data and insight, we promote and enforce the highest professional standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.

Our work with others provides a foundation for confident markets, pioneers better places to live and work and is a force for positive social impact.

For more information:

Kris Hicks

Rebecca Hunt