North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker is to propose a bill making it mandatory to calculate and reduce embodied carbons in the construction industry. According to Baker, if this bill is enacted, it will help the UK join the ranks of countries, like the Netherlands, the US and France, that are already moving towards regulating embodied carbon or are already regulating it. Given that the construction industry is responsible for about 40% of the total carbon emissions in the UK, this bill is required to help the country reach net-zero targets.
Once the Part Z Bill is passed into law, major changes in the current building regulations will be required in order to limit carbon emissions from materials and construction of buildings in the UK. This currently amounts to roughly 50 million tonnes of CO2 each year. The bill hopes to correct the government’s strategy for reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 as it failed to address the issue of embodied carbons. The strategy instead focuses on operational emissions resulting from heating and powering buildings.
In the Part Z Bill, Baker proposes that architects should be legally required to “measure, report, and reduce” the embodied carbon emissions of major building projects. With this bill, the government policy will also be in line with various industry groups like the UK Green Building Council, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the independent Climate Change Committee. In fact, the bill has been drafted with the input of authors from the Institute of Structural Engineers and the Royal Institute of British Architects and is based on invaluable insights collected from the industry.
In July 2021, the working group had put together a proposal including the various amends to the building regulations, that would take into account the embodied carbon of the industry. According to the suggestions proposed in this bill, whole-life carbon reporting would be made mandatory for non-residential projects starting In January next year whereas residential projects would be expected to join in by 2025. It also proposes to impose limits on upfront emissions starting in 2027.
This draft proposal won the support of around 130 firms in the industry from Arup to Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio. Some firms like Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio have also developed a free, open-source calculator to help the industry begin to calculate the whole-life emissions of their projects. A number of other companies have also set their own embodied carbon targets, without waiting for government intervention. These actions show that the industry is clearly ready to make the changes required, with or without the government regulations to support them.
Talking about the new Part Z Bill, Richard McMullan, Head of Business Development at MyDek says, “In line with our ethos of Safe, Smart and Sustainable, MyDek are working hard to reduce carbon contribution through extensive consultation with our supply chain partners and professional advisers. Aluminium decking is 100% recyclable which reduces the whole life cost of the product. Although production of aluminium has a relatively high carbon contribution per tonne, it is important to remember that, due to its light weight, a tonne of aluminium makes many more sq.ms of decking than other denser materials. This gives aluminium decking almost half of the carbon contribution compared to an equivalent area of 40mm thick concrete paving slabs. If you’d like to find out more about how we reach our carbon calculations, please ask one of our technical team.”
Learn more about MyDek’s approach towards calculating embodied carbons by scheduling a call with our technical team.