Creating the rules to manage carbon

Tim Chapman, Arup

Cutting carbon saves cost - Tim Chapman explains how a new PAS standard will help the industry drive forward with the low carbon agenda

The Infrastructure Carbon Review showed that infrastructure is responsible for over half of the UK’s carbon emissions, one way or another – the most damaging form of pollution that could threaten our whole way of living.  

Management of carbon came late to infrastructure, with much of the last couple of decades spent focused on carbon in buildings, and specifically operational carbon burnt to heat and light the UK ‘s homes and offices.  

"The high level management of Carbon in infrastructure needs to be matured rapidly, so that the whole supply chain can engage to create solutions."

While such carbon savings are tangible, there are much more fundamental gains to be made with carbon savings in the huge infrastructure systems on which this nation relies – transport, power, water supply and treatment and flood defences.  They must be part of the equation if the challenging 80% cut in UK carbon emissions is to be made.

Because infrastructure has come relatively late to the carbon saving party, it has been able to address those carbon savings in a more rational way. Hence it is now starting to create opportunities to save carbon right across the full carbon lifecycle – in the initial Capital (or embodied) Carbon used to make the facilities and assets that form the networks, in the Operational Carbon that runs them, and by facilitating carbon savings amongst those who use the facilities – End-user Carbon, which can often be dismissed as unmanageable, but is a very big part of the picture.

The high level management of Carbon in infrastructure needs to be matured rapidly, so that the whole supply chain can engage to create solutions. To do that, there must be a level playing field and well understood rules that clients, designers, contractors and suppliers can follow.  

Accordingly the UK’s Green Construction Board (GCB) and Department for Business Industry and Skills (BIS) has engaged both BSI and an authorship team composed of Mott MacDonald and Arup to write a new Publicly Available Specification or PAS to show how carbon in infrastructure can be managed more rationally and strategically.  

This will be a world first and so there are high hopes that this pioneering UK standard can form the basis for an ISO standard.  The scope given to the standard is wide.  The new standard should be completed in early 2016 and will be given the number PAS 2080 to fit within the family of other UK standards that address carbon management.

Tim Chapman is a director of Arup and a member of th Green Construction Board Infrastructure Working Group