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Watts Service Focus Bulletin - Sustainability


With the consolidation of economic growth, the programme to de-carbonise the UK economy in general and the construction industry in particular is gaining momentum. It is pretty clear that this recovery is a green one and there is daily evidence of the return of both political commitment and companies investing for the long term and a more sustainable future.

Issues covered in this bulletin include the RICS’ initiative to push embodied carbon up the policy agenda with the introduction of their measurement methodology. This coincided with the publication of a database of essential source material by WRAP and the UKGBC. The Minimum Energy Performance standards from 2018 seem likely to provide the critical linkage to property value which the retro-fit market needs to really get off the ground. We are also showcasing funding opportunities for businesses from the Renewable Heat Initiative; the compelling economics behind the LED revolution and how the environmental impact metric, BREEAM-In-Use, is being applied to complex hospital campuses full of venerable, hard to treat, traditional buildings. The last topic links fortuitously to new guidance on how to upgrade heritage buildings without placing them at risk.

These are times of change for the industry and Watts is in the vanguard of developing practice through its dedicated sustainability forum – helping clients old and new to meet their environmental ambitions. If we can help you in any way contact:

Mike Ridley - Head of Sustainability

Watts Service Focus Bulletin - Sustainability

RICS calls for compulsory carbon monitoring

In a move designed to make the built environment more sustainable and help meet the government’s target for zero-carbon buildings, the RICS has developed a new Methodology to calculate embodied carbon.


Launched in May, this new method of calculation can be used to measure the total carbon emitted by a building across the property lifecycle and can be used in tandem with the RICS’ New Rules of Measurement. The property body is now lobbying government to introduce compulsory monitoring of embodied carbon in new buildings. RICS is proposing that, despite being just one of several different methodologies, its new approach should be used as the industry standard as it has been developed with the help of a large number of firms which are leading experts in sustainable construction (source: Building, 16 May 2014 issue).

“Embodied carbon is an increasingly significant part of the overall carbon burden in properties, reaching up to 70% of the total carbon for very low energy thermal mass buildings,” said Martin Russell-Croucher, RICS Director for Sustainability and Special projects in May. “By focusing on the carbon-significant items, surveyors will be able to advise on the different design options – looking at carbon as well as the cost – to provide the best, balanced solutions. These will increasingly become a vital tool in the surveyor's armoury for reducing CO2 emissions in order to combat the effects of climate change,” he said.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has been calling on the construction industry to develop a robust methodology for measuring embodied carbon. Now RICS believes its new approach can be used not only to put surveyors at the forefront of measuring carbon across the property lifecycle, but also to provide the basis for future industry regulation for embodied carbon in buildings.

Also in May, WRAP and the UK Building Council launched a new Embodied Carbon Database, which captures embodied carbon data for whole buildings and will enable construction professionals to benchmark designs against comparative environmental data. The free, publicly available resource is ultimately expected to include infrastructure as well as building projects and can be found at What are your thoughts on RICS calling for compulsory carbon monitoring? Let us know on Watts Bulletin page on LinkedIn.

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.