TDUK calls for greater balance in RICS’ Whole Life Carbon Assessment consultation

The consultation on the Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment, RICS Professional Standard, comes to a close on Tuesday 18 April.

RICS has updated its standard to ensure it supports well-informed progress towards net-zero. Its key changes focus on providing a consistent output, to assist with benchmarking and decision making.

Timber Development UK fully supports this initiative, which is essential for creating greater standardisation for how we account for carbon in buildings in the UK and globally. We believe the standard could be made stronger with a few changes, better reflecting the use of timber.

TDUK has therefore responded to RICS’ invitation to comment with several suggestions, many of them pertaining to the benefits of using timber in construction.

“Sustainably sourced-timber is a low-carbon building material, and this is reflected when you measure your carbon. However, to fully realise the benefits of using timber, it is important to accurately consider how it is used, and where it ends up,” says Charlie Law, TDUK sustainability director.

“Some common misconceptions, which we would like to see cleared up in the next iteration of the RICS methodology, include references to end of life ‘emissions’ from timber, when in fact the biogenic carbon they refer to is actually ‘transferred’ to the next product system; there is not necessarily an emission.

“In addition, concerns around the potential perverse incentives when considering biogenic carbon, particularly in the upfront assessment, are disadvantaging timber, when we know this biogenic carbon is unlikely to be emitted to atmosphere at the products end of life; even as the effects of concrete carbonation could potentially be overblown.”

“It is important that we fairly assess the benefits of all building systems-  so we wholeheartedly support the RICS initiative, and we look forward to working with them to ensure that their methodology best reflects the use of timber in the built environment.”

If TDUK members wish to read and respond to the Whole Life Carbon Assessment document they can do so here. You can view TDUK’s response to the consultation here.