Terri Wills WGBC: Full decarbonisation of construction sector necessary. Global standards can set companies on a pathway to reducing emissions.

Terri Wills WGBC: Full decarbonisation of construction sector necessary. Global standards can set companies on a pathway to reducing emissions.

The latest data indicates that 40 % of green house gas emissions now come from the building and construction sector, says Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council.  And of this, 10% comes directly from construction, and that relates to infrastructure projects as well as buildings.

Talking to CCC Insight at the London Seminar on ‘Implementing PAS2080:  Supply Chain Collaboration to reduce the Carbon Footprint and Cost of major Infrastructure Projects’ she stressed that “we really have to decarbonise by 2050 and that requires is full decarbonisation of this sector.” 

The event on 17 November was a one-day summit to promote the UK’s new PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2080 standard – the world’s first framework for reducing whole life carbon in infrastructure. Commissioned by the government’s Construction Leadership Council and the Green Construction Board, it offers guidance and consistency on how to employ material, energy and labor efficiencies to reduce both capital and operational carbon and costs.

“As we are learning a lot more about how to reduce operating emissions from building and infrastructure projects, the next focus really has to be on the whole construction and manufacturing process, the industrial processes, that are behind the construction and creation of this infrastructure globally,” she said.

“…Standards such as PAS2080 as so important because they usually set a definition and a trajectory that sets the companies on a pathway to reducing emissions. So around the world we see that this can really spur leadership and a common definition that is adopted within the wider industry.

“We don’t always see that every company or every project will adopt the same standard but when the leading projects adopt it, it will filter down to the rest of the industry and the rest of the infrastructure. “

By way of example, Wills points out, that the Green Building Council in India, now rates metros, train stations, infrastructure projects etc, and are starting to incorporate not only the operating emissions of some of those projects but also the life cycle and the embodied carbon that goes into their construction and production,

“So we are really seeing this starting to happen in more and more countries and we are encouraging this to happen in even more,” she added. “We are seeing increasingly companies starting to set science-based targets…So that what starts to happen is that every company across the whole value chain sets these science-based targets, they have to start working with one another to achieve different components.

“If you are running an infrastructure project you are going to need your whole supply chain to reduce their emissions and their embodied carbon in their own manufacturing processes as those will have an impact on the embodied carbon of your own project.”

It is important to focus on cities and city mayors she pointed out. “There is so much more of the population moving to cities, two thirds of the population will live in cities in the years to come, the rate of construction and growth and development in many of these cities, particularly in the global south, and places like China are huge. So the scale of this is just enormous, and to really reduce and change the emissions, from the infrastructure sector we have to work with cities and through city mayors because that is where the change is happening.”

See PAS2080 Seminar Roundup