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New tool to help with whole-life carbon reporting  

23 November 2021

Development of new carbon database aims to help with efforts to decarbonise the built environment sector.

New tool to help with whole-life carbon reporting  
“Engineers are problem-solvers – and we have both the skill, and I believe a responsibility, to use those skills to help the world meet the climate emergency."

A carbon database is the latest practical instrument developed to support the decarbonisation of the built environment.

ICE is collaborating with several leading organisations across the construction industry, including the Building Research Establishment, Carbon Trust and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, to develop a free-to-access carbon database.

Due to launch in early 2022, a whitepaper outlining the problem and proposed solution was published earlier this month.

The Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD)

The Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD) aims to become the main source of carbon estimating and benchmarking for the UK construction sector.

The database is being developed to collect and supply product data and entity level data to the industry through its own portal and by interacting with existing databases and software solutions.

Dr Kat Ibbotson, ICE Fellow and member of the database’s steering group, said: “Access to industry wide data, to support both benchmarking and data improvements, will help not just improve value across the supply chain, but allow for more accurate whole-life carbon reporting. Achieving consistency and quality of data is a huge step in the right direction.

“Infrastructure is responsible for up to 70% of carbon emissions globally – so it’s imperative that we reconsider how we work. It’s not just about designing new low carbon infrastructure in the future, but also mitigating the climate change effects we are already seeing – and retrofitting existing structures.”

The role of engineers in solving the problem

Dr Ibbotson added: “Engineers are problem-solvers – and we have both the skill, and I believe a responsibility, to use those skills to help the world meet the climate emergency.

“The ICE recognises the importance of meeting the climate challenge, and has placed decarbonisation and resilience at the top of its strategic agenda. We will be encouraging our members, and the industry more widely, to make use of the Built Environment Carbon Database and play their part in this generation-defining challenge.”

The database work stems from a recognition that the built environment contributes around 38% of total global emissions – and the UK construction industry faces a seismic challenge as it strives towards net-zero emissions.

Reducing the impact on the environment starts with achieving consistency in the reporting and measuring of emissions and supporting that measurement with up-to-date accessible data.

The BECD will improve the availability and the consistency of data used in whole-life carbon assessments.

The development of this carbon database is something that ICE, through its Carbon Project, identified the need for as it looked at ways for engineers to play their part in achieving net zero.

Visit BECD for more information, to download the white paper or sign up to be kept informed about the project.

  • Emma Beer, media relations manager at ICE