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The Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment

Cambridge CSIC publish The Carbon Reduction Code for built Environment in an effort to help construction parties reduce carbon emissions.

There has rightly been much fanfare in recent weeks about COP26. In many respects, COP26 deals with the macro issues. However, in order to move towards net zero, the current momentum needs to flow down the supply chain. But what can organisations do to demonstrate real, measurable progress to net zero?

The Carbon Reduction Code for the Built Environment (“the Code”), which forms part of the Construction Leadership Council’s Co2nstruct Zero programme, was published by the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (“CSIC”) in June this year to help parties reduce carbon emissions relating to design, construction, maintenance, operation and decommissioning of built assets. It provides a mechanism that enables individual organisations to publicise their annual progress, and thereby collaborate and share best practice on their journey to Net Zero with the intention of accelerating progress across the industry.

The Code has recently been re-issued following industry feedback.

The Code offers three levels of commitment:

  1. Core commitments for all organisations
  2. Core commitments for client organisations and further commitments to facilitate the transition to Net Zero
  3. Core commitments for supply chain organisations and further commitments to facilitate the transition to Net Zero.

There is a minimum entry level of compliance — Pledger status. This means agreeing to the core commitments of setting out plans to meet net zero by 2045 (including annual targets) and then publishing these and the progress made against them every year.

Pledger levels requires setting an interim target to reduce net direct and indirect carbon emissions for 2030, which aligns with or exceeds government strategy.

Signatory level requires signing up to additional core commitments relevant to the organisation — whether client or supply chain.

Champion level sees commitments to more ambitious collaborative progress.

The Code’s reporting mechanism is designed to work alongside a number of existing initiatives including the ICE Carbon Project, Construction Innovation Hub Procuring for Value framework and toolkit, Infrastructure Carbon Review Seven Years On report and RICS Building Carbon Database. It is designed for clients, contractors, and supply chain members working in the built environment.

The Code is big on collaboration. For an industry that has historically been described as adversarial and fragmented as addressed in numerous reports such as The Latham Report “Constructing the Team” in 1994 and “Rethinking Construction” in 1998 any tool to facilitate collaborative action towards reducing carbon emissions is welcome. The sharing of knowledge, know-how and best practice is the only way for all elements of the built environment to achieve the climate objectives that are required.

If you would like any further information or would like to discuss any energy-related issues, contact us for energy legal advice.