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Press release

5 JUL 2021

Construction groups unite in proposed new carbon reporting rules

New international cost management (ICMS) reporting standards published for consultation urging professionals to report and measure carbon in developments, as industry seeks to work harder to lessen their environmental impact*.

RICS leading construction sector bodies in developing the UK’s first built environment carbon database later this year.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), working as part of an international coalition of built environment professional groups seeking to drive the industry in measuring carbon -  and therefore to take effective action on climate change – has jointly published for consultation the world’s first international standard for reporting carbon emissions across all areas of construction.  The consultation will seek input from industry on how to make sure carbon emissions factor directly into the extensive decision making that goes behind planning construction projects. This is to be followed shortly, by new RICS guidance for professionals on how to assess ‘embodied carbon’.

With construction contributing around 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, it’s crucial for the built environment to move towards more sustainable practices if communities are to realise their net-zero ambitions in time for 2050.

Therefore, and in addition, RICS has led a group of construction sector bodies in the development of an emissions database for logging the climate impact of all construction projects in the UK.  Measuring carbon, and then logging and analysing the data will aid industry move forward in lessening their environmental impact.

Under development by RICS in partnership with BRE, CIOB, CIBSE, UKGBC, ICE, IStructE, RIBA and The Carbon Trust, the new built environment carbon emissions database will allow professionals to log construction projects – whether that’s new homes, offices, or infrastructure – when ready later this year.

The database will give an indication of how much carbon has been emitted during the manufacturing and construction process (the ‘upfront embodied carbon’), along with future maintenance, energy use and demolition emissions, and enable designers to identify and avoid carbon-intensive products in favour of more sustainable materials that will help the UK get to net-zero by 2050.

Commenting on the database, James Fiske - Director of RICS’ Building Cost Information Service - said:

“It’s not every day that an entire industry comes together in agreement over climate change. The new database – coupled with the ICMS consultation - are real examples of construction sector uniting in its mission to tackle carbon emissions and meet its commitment to net zero.”

“We’re looking forward to launching the working database later this year and will be using the expertise within RICS and our partner professional bodies to make this happen.”

Moving back to ICMS, as a comprehensive standard developed by a coalition of nearly fifty organisations (many of which in the UK are also working together on the built environment carbon database) including RICS, it will urge professionals to report the carbon emissions on every project. 

Following the consultation, the final ICMS standards are expected to be published in November 2021 followed by updated RICS guidance on carbon assessment – which sets out a universal methodology for calculating carbon emissions.

This will form a toolkit to enable decision makers to minimise the carbon footprint of construction projects.

Alan Muse, Head of Construction Standards at RICS and ICMS lead, added:

“This update to ICMS and subsequent RICS standards which our professionals follow when completing any construction project, will see the construction sector making a large and measurable impact when it comes to leading from the front and combatting climate change.

“Supported by the latest tech, such as the built environment carbon database, these new standards provide a professional toolkit to measure and consistently report on carbon and influence the most basic design and construction decisions.

“The new rules ask the industry to challenge themselves on every decision made – from choosing between double or triple glazing in new homes to the type of concrete used to lay track for high speed rail.

“While other aspects such as cost and safety will continue to play a key factor, of equal importance will be ensuring a greener future for the global construction sector”.

Both the UK-based built environment carbon database and the globally applicable ICMS consultation come as the world heads toward the COP26 conference in Glasgow this November, with the overarching goals set by national governments to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the decades to come to battle the rapidly changing climate.

Notes to editors

Consultation on draft rules now open

The ICMS consultation will close on 10 September, with a final document anticipated to be ready for publication at the international COP26 conference in Glasgow.

A working carbon database will also be launched at roughly the same time and will begin collecting data as firms begin adding their developments to it.

The built environment carbon emissions database steering group is made up of the following UK-based organisations:

Building Research Establishment (BRE), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), The Environment Agency, UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)  and The Carbon Trust.

The ICMS is supported by a coalition of international organisations, including:

Africa Association of Quantity Surveyors (AAQS)
Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACE)
Association of Cost Engineers (ACostE)
Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS)
Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS)
Brazilian Institute of Cost Engineers (IBEC)
Building Surveyors Institute of Japan (BSIJ)
Canadian Association of Consulting Quantity Surveyors (CACQS)
Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS)
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES)
China Electricity Council (CEC)
China Engineering Cost Association (CECA)
Commonwealth Association of Surveying and Land Economy (CASLE)
Conseil Européen des Economistes de la Construction (CEEC)
Consejo General de la Arquitectura Técnica de España (CGATE)
Dutch Association of Quantity Surveyors (NVBK)
European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations (EFCA)
Fédération Internationale des Géomètres (FIG)
Fiji Institute of Quantity Surveyors (FIQS)
Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS)
Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS)
Ikatan Quantity Surveyor Indonesia (IQSI)
Indian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (IIQS)
Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET)
Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK)
Institute of Quantity Surveyors Sri Lanka (IQSSL)
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
Institution of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK)
Institution of Surveyors of Uganda (ISU)
International Cost Engineering Council (ICEC)
Italian Association for Total Cost Management (AICE)
Korean Institution of Quantity Surveyors (KIQS)
Fachverein für Management und Ökonomie im Bauwesen (maneco)
New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NZIQS)
Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS)
Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors (PAQS)
Philippine Institute of Certified Quantity Surveyors (PICQS)
Property Institute of New Zealand (PINZ)
Quantity Surveyors International (QSi)
Real Estate Institute of Botswana (REIB)
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia (RISM)
Singapore Institute of Building Limited (SIBL)
Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV)
Sociedad Mexicana de Ingeniería Económica, Financiera y de Costos (SMIEFC)
Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI)
Union Nationale des Economistes de la Construction (UNTEC)

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