Limit the Carbon Footprint of Construction

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

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More than half the countries in the world have a smaller carbon footprint than the UK construction industry alone.

The carbon footprint of new buildings and infrastructure accounts for over 10% of the UK’s overall carbon emissions. Despite this, there is no national requirement to measure, report, or reduce the emissions associated with construction.

This must change. In order to mitigate the devastating impacts of climate change the government must legislate to limit the carbon emissions caused by construction.

Sign this petition to ask the UK government to reduce the carbon footprint of construction now.

This petition is being put forward by a group of architects and engineers who work with the Building Regulations on a regular basis. We know from our professional experience that, until required to do so by regulation, construction will continue with ‘business as usual’ and thus cause unnecessary damage to our planet and environment, damage that is now known to be irreversible


Petition by

To: Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
From: [Your Name]

Limit the Carbon Footprint of Construction

More than half the countries in the world have a smaller carbon footprint than the UK construction industry.

The carbon footprint of buildings and infrastructure accounts for over 10% of the UK’s carbon emissions. Currently, Building Regulations & national planning policy do not require the industry to measure or limit this carbon footprint.

In July 2019, the UK legislated for a target of net zero national greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In 2020 the Committee on Climate Change specifically recommended that to reach this goal the Government must take action to tackle the carbon emissions caused by the construction of new buildings and infrastructure, known within the construction industry as ‘embodied carbon’. The Government must act on this recommendation and legislate to ensure the measuring, reporting and reduction of embodied carbon in construction is compulsory throughout the UK.

In 2019 the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy reported that “with profit margins and shareholder returns the overriding priority for the majority of large housebuilders, they will not upgrade their standards without being required to do so by regulation.”

Architect’s Climate Action Network (ACAN) is an independent group of architects and other construction professionals who understand the impact of construction on the twin emergencies of climate change and ecological breakdown. ACAN has prepared a detailed report entitled ‘The Carbon Footprint of Construction’ (2021), putting forward proposals for legislative and policy-related steps we must take with immediate effect. The full report can be accessed at www.architectscan.org/embodiedcarbon.

This report recommends that the UK Government and local authorities should act on the following;

2021
• Regulation 7 to be revised to introduce carbon limits on specific materials.
• New London Plan Policy SI2 to be adopted by local authorities around the UK.
• Establish a freely accessible database for anonymised Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessment data of new buildings, to ensure lessons are widely learnt.
• Create, or adopt, a freely accessible UK Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) database, to ensure consistent and reliable assessments.

2022
• Expand The Building Regulations to include requirements to assess, report & reduce
embodied carbon, within a new part: “Part Z: Embodied Carbon Emissions.”
• Introduce clauses to the National Planning Policy Framework with requirements for Whole Life-Cycle Carbon Assessments to be submitted as part of pre-application enquiries, full planning submissions, and at practical completion.

2025
• Introduce strict limit values on embodied carbon emissions for all developments.

We call on the UK government to urgently introduce regulation with a requirement for measurement, reporting and reduction of embodied carbon emissions in construction in line with the timescales outlined above.

Yours sincerely,

Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN)