Arup commits to fossil fuels withdrawal and whole lifecycle carbon assessments

Consulting engineer Arup will undertake whole lifecycle carbon assessments for all its buildings projects – new and retrofit – from next year and will no longer take on any new energy commissions involving the extraction, refinement, or transportation of hydrocarbon-based fuels.

Arup commits to fossil fuels withdrawal and whole lifecycle carbon assessments

Arup’s Glasgow office at 1 West Regent Street

The firm said its commitment to whole lifecycle carbon assessments is significant because the global built environment sector is the source of almost 40% of global carbon emissions. Yet it has been estimated that less than 1% of buildings projects are currently evaluated in a way that quantifies the scale and source of carbon emissions generated during their lifespans – a step that is essential if the most effective decarbonisation actions are to be identified.

Adopting whole lifecycle carbon assessment is the crucial next step that will allow the global buildings sector to progress toward 50% carbon emissions reduction by 2030, argues Arup, and to contribute meaningfully to the Paris Agreement’s goal of preventing global warming from exceeding 1.5°C.

Arup believes the insights it will gain from conducting thousands of whole lifecycle carbon assessments each year, from April 2022, will help the built environment sector advance toward net zero. It is also committed to developing a methodology to extend whole lifecycle carbon assessments to its infrastructure work for clients without delay.

Crucially, whole lifecycle carbon assessments incorporate both embodied and operational carbon. In a recent report, Arup and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development suggested that as much as 50% of the whole lifecycle carbon emissions from buildings come from embodied carbon – generated from the manufacturing and transport of materials and the construction process. Yet embodied carbon remains routinely overlooked by the built environment sector.

Chairman Alan Belfield said: “Whole lifecycle carbon assessment is the next step that must be taken to unlock decarbonisation of the built environment at scale. Our commitment to undertaking whole lifecycle carbon assessment for all of our buildings work means that for the first time we will have the data to share with our clients and with industry partners about the precise actions to be taken to decarbonise buildings – new or existing – most effectively.”

Cristina Gamboa, CEO of the World Green Building Council, added: “Delivering net zero buildings requires transformative action by industry leaders. Arup’s decision to incorporate whole lifecycle carbon assessment for all of its buildings commissions, and on a global basis, is game-changing and it will help to accelerate the buildings sector’s progress toward net zero. Arup’s decision is precisely the type of advocacy we encourage signatories of WorldGBC’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment to take. The Commitment now incorporates requirements to address embodied carbon as a part of a whole lifecycle carbon approach.”

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