Carbon Criticality – Audit of Activity of Members
Construction Industry Council
July 2008 – January 2009
Climate change and the UK Government policy 1.1
Construction Industry Council 1.3
Existing building stock 1.5
Climate change legislation 1.6
2. The Audit Framework
Website survey 2.1
Written responses 2.2
Areas explored 2.8
First awareness 3.1
Carbon as proxy 3.4
Integrated working 3.7
4. Qualifications, Training and Professionalism
Professional bodies 4.1
Continuing professional development 4.4
Codes of conduct 4.7
Energy performance certificates 4.9
Fast pace of change 4.12
5. Standards, Guidance and Tools
The broader picture 5.4
Other solutions 5.8
Whole life costing 5.11
Institutional bridges 5.13
Climate change tools 5.17
6. Case studies and best practice
Real life examples 6.1
Zero carbon definition 6.5
Operational issues 6.10
Client initiatives 6.17
7. Research, Knowledge Transfer and Communications
The web revolution 7.1
Website homepages 7.2
Knowledge transfer networks 7.7
Sustainability skills 7.10
Institutional approach 7.14
Social aspects 7.21
8. Public affairs, government and international relations
Educating the public client 8.4
Overseas perspective 8.11
9. In conclusion
Appendix A - CIC full members
This report is the result of an audit of activity of members of the Construction Industry
Council (CIC) in relation to carbon. CIC is a representative body for construction
professions, research organisations and specialist business associations representing
30 full time members as well as affiliates and associates.
CIC has a commitment towards the Government‟s Strategy for Sustainable Construction
(launched in 2008) to develop and deliver a work programme by its members in support
of sustainability. Having adopted a strategy of using carbon as a proxy for sustainability,
CIC needs to gauge the level of existing commitment in this area – hence this audit.
Conducted by means of a general web survey together with in-depth interviews of 11 full
members, the audit revealed a high level of commitment to sustainability in general and
carbon in particular. This commitment was not always reflected in the prominence of the
topic on the home pages of the members‟ websites.
The core activities of the professional bodies surveyed centre on education and practice
and member organisations disseminate information through a variety of means:
guidance and best practice standards; professional examinations; case studies;
continuing practice development; research; leadership and; policy development.
Although many organisations have been campaigning on low carbon for many years,
there is little consistency among members. There is however, a universal
acknowledgement that the focus of effort needs to be on low carbon strategies in relation
to existing buildings rather than on new construction.
Member organisations are active through their public affairs departments in responding
to Government consultations in relation to carbon but there are widespread complaints
about the Government‟s lack of clarity on this issue as reflected in absence of a
definition as to what the concept of what “zero-carbon” actually means. It is hoped that
that the current consultation on this topic will clarify the matter.
Integrated working within the construction industry is widely felt to be one of the keys to
success in meeting the challenges of low carbon within the built environment. Other
fundamental issues include the question of measuring and costing carbon and the
promotion of the concept of whole life costing.
Professional institutes have responded to the challenge of educating their members and
the general public on the implications of carbon by producing a wide variety of guidance
and case studies. Pressure from some clients in relation to sustainability in general and
carbon in particular has been noted.
Courses and academic qualifications (e.g in relation to energy assessment) are being
developed within this area. There is also a body of relevant Continuing Professional
Development (CPD) material but the issue of monitoring members in relation to CPD is
In 2006 the Stern Review on the economics of climate change put forward the argument
that as climate change effects intensify, there will be rising costs for global and national
prosperity, for people‟s health and for the natural environment. Later the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it clear that human activity is
changing the world‟s climate and that deep cuts by at least half in global carbon dioxide
and other greenhouse gas emissions are needed by 2050 to avoid some of the most
dangerous impacts in the future.
Climate change and UK Government Policy
1.1 In response to these warnings, the UK is currently in the process of trying to achieve
a complex interlinked programme to make a fundamental transition to a secure
sustainable low carbon energy future.
1.2 In June 2008, the UK Government launched a Strategy for Sustainable Construction.
This is a joint industry and government initiative intended to promote leadership and
behavioural transformation with the purpose of achieving radical change in the
sustainability of the construction industry. The industry is committed, through the
strategy, to reducing its carbon footprint and its consumption of natural resources. A
crucial exemplar of this objective is the London 2012 Olympics. Through a series of
Construction Commitments, both the client and the industry intend to exceed current
best practice and to generate long-term benefits for the UK.
Construction Industry Council
1.3 The Construction Industry Council (CIC) is key to the delivery of these
commitments. With 30 full members, 19 Associate members and 32 Affiliate members,
CIC is the representative forum for the professional bodies, research organisations and
specialist business associations in the construction industry. To support the Strategy
CIC agreed to:
develop and deliver a work programme by all member organisations in support
of sustainability ;
develop and deliver syllabi suitable for training courses and CPD materials,
activities and standards/qualifications ; and
develop a sustainability charter for CIC which all members will be required to
sign up to.
1.4 Concurrently with the launch of the Strategy, at an awayday of presidents and
chief executives of CIC members in May 2008, it was agreed that carbon is the main
priority for the built environment professions. Around 50% of the UK‟s carbon emissions
are accounted for by both construction activity and the operational requirements of the
The existing building stock accounts for most carbon emissions
Existing building stock
1.5 The existing building stock (around 20 million dwellings plus non-domestic
property) accounts for by far the most carbon emissions in the built environment and so
improving the energy efficiency of the existing stock is a critical element in the delivery of
carbon emission reduction targets. Initiatives such as the introduction of energy
performance certificates have been put in place by Government and its partners to
enable existing buildings to make a contribution to meeting national targets but there is a
growing consensus that national priority must be given to a major programme of
improvement work and that an action plan is needed to achieve the targets set in the
Climate Change Act. Carbon reduction commitments required by Government of large
businesses and public sector organizations will come into effect in 2010.
Climate change legislation
1.6 The UK Government is the first in the world to introduce binding legislation on
the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in the Climate Change Act 2008 which
became law on 26 November 2008. In this legislation, the initial target was set at a
reduction of 60% on 1990 levels by 2050 and by at least 26% by 2020. On 16 October
2008 the Government adjusted the 2050 target upwards to 80%. The Act set up the
government‟s advisory Climate Change Committee and on 1 December 2008 the
Committee published its inaugural report “Building a low-carbon economy – the UK‟s
contribution to tackling climate change”. This urged the Government to reduce all
greenhouse gases by at least 34% in 2020 on 1990 levels and advised on the levels of
the UK‟s first three legally binding carbon budgets for 2008 – 2022.
1.7 The Government is committed to the EU Renewable Energy target of 15% of total
supply from renewable sources by 2020. New homes must be carbon zero by 2016 and
this objective is being supported by revisions to the Building Regulations and the Code
for Sustainable Homes. New schools, public sector non-domestic buildings and other
non-domestic buildings must be “zero carbon” from 2016, 2018 and 2019 respectively.
1.8 Communities and Local Government began a three month consultation on the
definition for zero carbon new homes and non-domestic buildings on 12 December
1.9. CIC has corresponded with the Prime Minister about the contribution the built
environment can make to achieving national targets, and a meeting is planned with Joan
Ruddock MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Energy
and Climate to discuss CIC work on carbon criticality.
1.10 CIC is determined to mobilize its membership on this issue. CIC Council agreed
to review the structure and organisation of CIC in this context in order to make carbon
emission reductions the focus of its work. An overarching leadership group, chaired by
CIC chairman Keith Clarke and comprised of leaders from key member organisations,
has been established to direct activities. CIC has created a dedicated section on its
website Carbon Critical World, linked from the home page, which is intended to enable
the sharing and advancement of knowledge about carbon within the built environment.
Task groups have been created to take forward a work programme that will drive a
paradigm shift in how the construction professions approach their practice in the
industry, with carbon as a significant, if not primary, design determinant.
1.11 CIC‟s key message is that trying harder is not enough, the industry has to
2. Audit framework
To support these initiatives, CIC undertook an audit of what CIC member organisations
have already done and are planning to do to give leadership and equip their own
members in meeting the challenges of carbon reduction in the built environment.
2.1 The audit comprised several elements:
a survey of member organisations‟ websites for carbon related content
(undertaken July - August 2008);
in-depth interviews with 11 full members of CIC on their carbon related
initiatives (August - September 2008) ;
a workshop with members (1 October 2008);
presentation of a draft report and discussion at CIC Council (22 October 2008)
consultation on the draft report (November – December 2008).
2.2 The main audit focused on a selection of professional bodies in construction
along with some of the research organisations that are members of CIC. Other member
organisations contributed to the October workshop and Council meeting. Written
consultation responses were received from:
Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE)
Building Research Establishment (BRE)
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
Dave Hampton, the Carbon Coach
Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE)
LABC (District Surveyors Association Ltd)
National House-Building Council (NHBC)
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
2.3 This report is the final account of the audit, incorporating points arising from the
consultation, and was completed in January 2009. Actions arising from this report to
effect real change in practice are being taken forward by task groups established by CIC
with the input of member organisations.
2.4 The audit of work on carbon within the CIC family was undertaken with 11 of the
British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)
Building Research Establishment (BRE)
Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA)
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA)
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
Landscape Institute (LI)
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)
(NB The RIBA was not included in the web audit as its website was under construction
at the time of the research. The RTPI was interviewed in January 2009 following the
consultation and its website was not included in the audit).
2.5 The core activity of the eight professional bodies included in the audit is to admit
to membership individuals who meet certain standards of education and practice.
Member subscriptions contribute a significant proportion of their income. However, they
do not exist merely to serve members. While all undertake commercial activities, many
also have Royal Charters and are registered charities. As registered charities they are
eligible to claim Gift Aid on member subscriptions, thereby receiving a public subsidy. In
addition, they are obliged through their Charters and charitable status to deliver public
benefit in addition to providing services to their members.
2.6 Public benefit is delivered in a variety of ways: for example through offering
disinterested expertise and credible, authoritative sources of information to members of
the public, consumers of professional services, policy-makers, analysts and
commentators; through setting standards for education, qualification, practice and
continuing professional development that ultimately benefit civil society; and through
regulation of practice and codes of conduct supported by disciplinary procedures and
sanctions. Members of these professional bodies expect to receive support in return for
their subscriptions but they are also obliged to comply with their professional bodies‟
ethics and standards of education and practice. Most standards arise from the UK (and
EU) context in terms of the legislative, regulatory, educational and practice realities.
Professionals therefore serve several masters simultaneously – their clients, their
professional body and the public.
2.7 The global market in professional consultancy skills and the number of overseas
members of these bodies mean that the organisations audited have significant global
reach, carrying the influence of the UK around the world. The Institution of Structural
Engineers, for example, has members in over 100 countries.
2.8 The areas explored in the audit encompassed the following:
Guidance and best practice standards
Communications with members
Surveys of members
Accredited Higher Education courses
Professional Qualifying Examinations
Continuing Professional Development
Code of Conduct
Standard forms of contract
Other tools such as fee models and construction process planning
Both the web audit and interviews revealed a high level of awareness of and
commitment to the overarching concept of sustainability. However, it is worth noting that
many institutions‟ website homepages completely undersold their actual commitment
through poor or non-existent signposting.
3.1 Further investigation however, through the web audit, interviews and consultation
responses revealed commitment going back several years and ranging quite widely in
most cases. The Institution of Structural Engineers, for instance, published a landmark
report in 1999 “Building for a sustainable future: construction without depletion”. The
BIFM has been working on sustainability for seven years. The Landscape Institute,
combining environmental stewardship and construction, believes sustainability is not an
add-on but has always been the organising principle of the profession. The RTPI
President Jed Griffiths prioritised sustainable development in planning in 2004. In 2005
RICS set up a Presidential Commission on Sustainability to guide its work which
reported in 2007, and in June 2008 the RICS EU Public Affairs Office held a conference
in Brussels aimed at „Breaking the Vicious Circle of Blame – Making the Business Case
for Sustainable Buildings‟. The focus was on creating „Virtuous Loops of Feedback and
Adaptation‟ through „embracing the social aspects of the triple bottom line‟. The ACE has
a number of activities aimed at spreading knowledge and understanding of sustainability
issues including a Sustainability Sector Interest Group.
3.2 Awareness of the specific implications of climate change and a commitment to
acting in response to it are also apparent but are less thoroughly embedded, and in most
cases are more recent. Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) seem to have been the spur along with the Stern Review and work emerging
from the UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) on adaptation. ACE participates in
the UKCIP Climate Change for Business project. The focus of the institutions‟ output in
response is in two areas: provision of information from a plethora of sources, and
enabling members to become qualified in newly emerging fields such as energy
assessment. The emergence of websites as a primary communications tool is a mixed
blessing. Organisations can reach their own members and members of the public quickly
with a rolling service of information. But there is the danger of a great proliferation of
information from a wide variety of sources that can confuse or undermine confidence in
the quality and relevance of the information.
3.3 Some institutions emerge with a more dynamic sense of urgency and focus
about climate change and therefore leadership. CIBSE was galvanized seven years ago
by then President Terry Wyatt whose Presidential Address was entitled „Adapt or Die‟.
This led to a Carbon Task Force in 2004 whose legacy is that carbon is now mainstream
within CIBSE‟s work. Climate change has been a consistent theme of ICE Presidents
since 2002 and ICE has produced a Climate Change Policy Statement. In 2007, ICE
held climate change hearings with panels of experts being interrogated by other experts
on the topics of water, energy, waste and transport. For RIBA climate change has been
a major theme over the past two years with current President Sunand Prasad personally
championing the issue beginning with his time as Chair of the Policy and Strategy
Group. The LI has had a strong focus on climate change for the past two years with the
Secretary of State for the Environment as the keynote speaker at the first of their three
climate change conferences in 2007/8. The LI surveyed their members‟ practice in
response to climate change and a position statement on climate change, with 10 case
studies, was published in 2008. CIRIA noted that the publication in 2006 of the Stern
Review on the economics of climate change made clients more aware of the issue and it
is now appearing on business risk registers. Adaptation in particular is increasingly
appearing on clients‟ risk registers as a result of the severe flooding in summer 2007.
CIOB has stated that it „regards climate change as the single most important issue to
affect the built environment today and for the foreseeable future‟. Throughout 2008 the
RTPI developed a new vision for the Institute on which members will be consulted during
2009. This ”„Planning to Live with Climate Change” initiative, is intended by its leaders to
be a radical repositioning of the Institute and of planning, realigning it with the 21 st
century challenge of climate change. The LABC, whose members are involved daily in
the enforcement of building regulations, has tasked its Presidential team to develop a
climate change commitment to which both the organisation and its members will be
asked to sign up.
Carbon as proxy
3.4 However, more specifically, carbon as the main proxy for the relationship
between climate change and the construction industry is not yet universally apparent
and this applies to clients as much as to consultants. Comments made include: „Carbon
does not come up on clients‟ risk registers‟; „Low carbon issues are not understood‟; and
„The business case for carbon reduction still needs to be made so that it is as accepted
as waste reduction‟. Few professional bodies are putting carbon at the centre of their
work programmes in relation to their education policies or professional practice
guidance. However there are some significant exceptions to this situation amongst
clients, professional bodies and consultancies.
3.5 Clients such as Tesco, BAA, B&Q and M&S are engaging with the carbon reduction
agenda, although the driver is sometimes energy bills. Professional bodies such as the
RIBA are producing detailed guidance to help members deliver low carbon new buildings
and low carbon refurbishment of existing buildings. BSRIA has produced a series of
documents on whole life carbon that are free to members. BRE is working with specific
clients to produce bespoke carbon management tools. The NHBC has invested in the
Zero Carbon Hub, the industry led body established to deliver the government‟s zero
carbon homes policy and Neil Jefferson from NHBC was seconded as Interim Chief
3.6 Little monitoring or evaluation of changing practices is being done. Member
surveys relate almost exclusively to the services provided by institutions. However, the
CIOB surveyed 850 built environment professionals in 2007 and published a report, “The
Green Perspective: A UK construction industry report on sustainability”. Building
regulations were seen as the most valuable way for the built environment to reduce
carbon emissions, yet 67% of respondents felt that current regulations did not go far
enough to create energy efficient buildings. Some 68.8% believed that the industry does
not have good leadership on issues of sustainability. The BIFM had just completed its
second annual sustainability survey covering individual members, contractors and in-
house staff. Questions include issues like „Does your company have a policy on
sustainability? Who takes responsibility? What effect is it having?‟ In 2007, the LI
surveyed members‟ actions to deal with climate change. While the survey revealed an
encouraging level of engagement in areas like sustainable specification, waste
reduction, water conservation, reduced energy consumption and renewable energy,
more than 80% of respondents were unable to measure the effects their actions were
3.7 A key issue is integrated working. There is a widespread belief that this is
fundamental to success in meeting the challenges of low carbon in the built environment,
but there is little monitoring or evaluation of where and how this is happening and with
what results. For example, drivers like the Code for Sustainable Homes and 2006 Part L
of the Building Regulations (which required 26% lower carbon than the 2002
regulations), are changing the conventional linear processes of housing construction,
often led by architects. To enable these new standards to be met, professionals such as
facilities managers, building services engineers and landscape architects have to
become involved at the very outset of masterplanning, design and development rather
than, as has often been the case in the past, when key decisions have already been
taken. But there is little information available about how and why integrated working is
developing or to what effect.
3.8 The issue of measuring carbon is also fundamental. BRE‟s Chief Executive
Martin Wyatt commented: „The debate has to narrow. We have to define zero carbon
and decide where the boundaries lie in measuring carbon. Measures that do exist are
not being applied properly.‟
3.9 The professions need to focus hard on what their practice would involve if they
were working with a budget of zero for carbon and ensure that their members – and, by
association, clients - are complying with those standards. Concerns have been
expressed that some professionals are wearing green labels, and ticking certain
sustainability boxes, without the skills and knowledge to contribute real expertise and
effect the necessary outcomes.
4. Qualifications, Training and Professionalism
The professional institutions within the construction industry are voluntary organisations
whose core purpose is the setting of standards for practice in the built environment.
4.1 The sector is built on a foundation of public-spiritedness where the professional
subscribes to an intellectual and ethical framework and provides disinterested expertise
to serve the public good alongside meeting contractual requirements of clients. This is
achieved by professional bodies, through mechanisms such as: accreditation of
university courses; the control of entry into membership; and the provision of qualifying
examinations for full status as a competent professional. At the level of the individual
practitioner there are requirements for compliance with Continuing Professional
Development (CPD) and with codes of conduct. In some cases, such as architecture,
these powers are supported by legislation aimed at protecting the public in a variety of
ways. Other legal mechanisms exist to provide redress to a consumer of professional
services when a consultant fails. Expulsion from membership through failure to reach the
required standards set by a professional body is rare, yet this is the ultimate sanction
which the institutions themselves can invoke. Other professions notably medicine, law
and social work, have stringent regulatory frameworks which in recent years have been
subject to public scrutiny as part of a drive to improve accountability and to support high
4.2 Standards are set through the creation and management of knowledge, which is
generated through practice and research. The extent to which knowledge about carbon
is entering standards is very variable and often other bodies, such as the Carbon Trust,
are seen at the major repository of the most reliable knowledge.
4.3 The BIFM is providing courses on sustainability and carbon management to
members, but these topics are not yet part of the qualifying examination process.
Environmental management is in the existing syllabus but climate change elements are
not prominent. Like many institutions the BIFM have held several conferences on
sustainability and one planned for March 2009 will be on sustainability in action in
response to demand from members.
Continuing Professional Development
4.4 Sustainable design and sustainability are core competences for RIBA Continuing
Professional Development (CPD). RIBA is considering the extent to which climate
change and carbon reduction should be incorporated into requirements to become a
RIBA chartered practice.
4.5 Universities accredited by RIBA also have core modules and competences and
are aware of the issues of climate change and carbon reduction methods, but RIBA
reports that the skills and understanding needed are not percolating through as fast as is
needed in the shape of graduates who are fit for purpose. RIBA would like to work with
universities and other professions to develop a degree module on climate change.
4.6 CIBSE has developed the Low Carbon Consultants‟ scheme with support from
the Carbon Trust. This is to upgrade skills for professionals in a demonstrable way to
produce buildings which perform to a higher standard than that required by Building
Regulations, the minimum legally acceptable standard. Members of the UKAS
accredited LCC scheme are required to train, pass an examination and develop their
skills through CPD. There is now also the Low Carbon Energy Assessors scheme for
energy assessors approved under Regulation 25 of the Energy Performance of Buildings
Regulations 2007. CIBSE actively seeks evidence of teaching on sustainability in the
university courses it accredits.
Codes of conduct
4.7 Even though clients often have recourse to a variety of legal remedies, Codes of
Conduct are often dominated by the regulatory tenor of consumer protection rather than
the articulation of the ethical principles of professionalism and other public purposes.
CIBSE has added a new clause to its Code of Conduct requiring members to „have due
regard to the environment in the discharge of their daily duties‟. This provides a clear
message to CIBSE members that this an expectation of them. It is unlikely CIBSE would
ever discipline a member on this basis but it provides an opportunity to promote member
development in this area, and a platform from which to engage with clients. The
Landscape Institute‟s Royal Charter gives it the remit to conserve the environment and
a review of the Institute‟s Code of Conduct is being undertaken with a view to
strengthening member obligations in this respect.
4.8 ICE publishes sustainability guidelines for undergraduate degrees. One of the
ICE Vice-Presidents Paul Jowitt, Professor of Civil Engineering Systems at Heriot Watt
University and Director of the Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology, is currently
reviewing the core competences for their professional qualification in order to inculcate
new skills against a five year accreditation cycle. IStructE joins with ICE via the Joint
Board of Moderators to accredit university degree courses. In common with several
other organizations, ICE members do not follow CPD policy very rigorously although
records are called in and potentially there is a disciplinary threat. There is a view that
compulsion and serious monitoring of CPD will have to come. ICE publishes core
objectives for chartered membership. Similarly, IStructE sets Core Objectives for initial
professional development which have to be met before candidates can sit the
examination for chartered status. A candidate is required to demonstrate knowledge and
understanding of relevant environmental and sustainability issues and legislation; the
implications of design choices and construction methods for the environment; how to
involve specialist environmental advisers; and how the interaction of a structure with the
services can influence the lifetime energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse
Energy performance certificates
4.9 RICS‟ CPD is service-oriented, related to the market conditions in which
members work. To date there has been a concentration on Energy Performance
Certificates. A major roadshow was organised and take up by members was reportedly
good. CPD is demand-led. RICS acknowledge that members still do not have enough
knowledge about carbon and this emerges on their discussion forum. This is partly
being driven by the fact that the mandatory carbon reporting set for 2010 (Carbon
Reduction Commitment) will affect clients such as landlords.
4.10 CIOB does a spotcheck with 8% of members every year. Nothing is compulsory
but members are now looking for more support in how to deliver low carbon. Online
courses are being developed on topics such as carbon footprinting and carbon off-
setting. Last year CIOB reviewed the framework for accreditation of degree programmes
and sustainability is now included, although there are some concerns that the approach
is too broad and there is not the focus needed on carbon.
4.11 The LI is currently reviewing its CPD policy. Accreditation of university courses is
done annually. In both areas climate change is becoming an issue. There are concerns
that students are graduating without the skills now being called for in the marketplace.
Experienced practitioners also need to be better equipped to deal with the contribution
landscape planning can make to sustainable techniques in climate change mitigation
Fast pace of change
4.12 BSRIA expressed real concerns that across the built environment, the Higher
Education sector is not teaching students to a high enough standard to match the fast
pace of change in practice requirements, a view shared by BRE. BRE has been
considering the development of a Green Card with CSCS and the creation of a new
sustainability qualification. BSRIA runs a series of courses on topics such as Introduction
to Renewables, Whole Life Costing - Theory and Practice, and Practical Energy
4.13 Several institutions offer the Chartered Environmentalist qualification from the
Society for the Environment in addition to their own.
4.14 Respondents to CIOB‟s 2007 survey The Green Perspective, were asked what
they would develop if they had a £1m budget for sustainability. Top of the list was
education, training and CPD.
5. Standards, Guidance and Tools
The official codes governing construction, such as the Building Regulations, are seen to
be influenced very significantly by the professional institutions.
5.1 The guidance published by the professional institutions is used in a quasi legal
way, helping to manage risk and support innovation. However, the sector‟s institutional
approach needs to evolve very quickly to bring about new ways of working whereby new
guidance can provide short circuits to working methods, discovering what works and
ensuring that rapid learning takes place.
5.2 In relation to promoting the low carbon message, there is a widely held view that
refurbishment and the life extension of the existing building stock should be the national
top priority. Too much focus has been on new build yet the contribution to meeting
carbon targets from new build is minimal.
5.3 Significant additional costs are attributable to new requirements such as
compliance with the Code for Sustainable Homes. The Code is however driving
integrated working. The Landscape Institute points to the achievement of Code Level 6
in the Kingspan house at the BRE‟s Innovation Park in Watford in which the landscape
design, incorporating features such as Sustainable Urban Drainage, played a crucial part
in the performance of the building.
The broader picture
5.4 The LI believes retrofitting of infrastructure, incorporating multifunctional green
infrastructure to reduce the urban heat island effect and deal with extreme weather
events for example, is also a major issue that is under-examined, but is rapidly
becoming relevant as unavoidable climate impacts such as flooding rise up the agenda.
Ecosystem services, landscape engineering and natural processes need to be
considered more fully as contributing to solutions such as promoting the use of natural
daylight, natural ventilation, breezeways, the creation of carbon sinks and the reduction
of surface water run-off. Landscape planning solutions in the public realm need to be
considered so that city-scale actions can be taken.
5.5 The RTPI is also concerned with potential larger scale solutions to climate
change mitigation and adaptation. Concepts of spatial planning influenced the 2004
Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act and the resulting Local Development
Frameworks and Regional Spatial Strategies. The RTPI‟s forthcoming vision “Planning
to Live with Climate Change” would commit the profession to engaging with climate
change at every level of planning. It advocates that the Institute become a campaigning
organisation, and proposes a “climate change over-ride” to effect a fundamental shift in
practice. Measures to mitigate climate change should have priority over the conventional
balance between economic, social and environmental factors in planning for a particular
area where it is essential to achieve targets to reduce carbon emissions that threaten
5.6 BRE has developed a masterplanning tool, Greenprint, that is intended to
maximize the potential for delivering sustainable communities.
5.7 While new environmental standards and techniques are being developed,
existing ones such as BREEAM are not being met as widely as they should, BRE claim.
This reflects a widespread view that there is a gap between what is possible and what is
actually happening in practice. Some clients are taking the lead in insisting on the
highest possible standards for their projects, but are not always able to find the
consultants they need. There is a view that the professional bodies need to be more
rigorous in requiring their members to meet high standards of practice.
5.8 BRE has developed a Simplified Buildings Energy Model, and is conducting a
trial of a refurbishment equivalent of BREEAM. Other tools such as a bespoke carbon
management tool for pension fund managers are in development. BRE report that there
is an increasing awareness that major holders of building stock are looking seriously at
sustainability. Bespoke solutions for clients are being commissioned, one example being
a sustainable construction manual which BRE has produced for M&S which serves as a
contribution to the company‟s five year plan, covering everything from child labour to
carbon. The motivation is partly Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but also because
it is believed to make business sense. M&S are now embedding information from the
sustainable construction manual into their core activities and changing their
specifications for procurement. All new stores must achieve the BREEAM excellent
5.9 However, there is a tension between the BREEAM standard and the US Green
Building Council‟s LEED standard with some clients concerned that the differences
between the two are creating burdens and confusions. In a global market for
construction this highlights the need for co-ordination and agreed standards that simplify
the responses to the climate change challenge while serving the public interest. There is
a widespread view that the UK sets the highest standards in the world and should
therefore be the global leader.
5.10 Clients vary as to why they may be adopting carbon management strategies
according to the consultants they are using. Sometimes it is CSR only, but with others,
for example Carillion, their sustainability objectives are linked to their core business plan
objectives. It is widely believed that the leadership provided by major companies such as
Carillion and M&S is crucial to influencing the behaviour of the large proportion of SMEs
in the sector, which suffers from being very fragmented.
Whole life costing
5.11 There is a wide range of positioning on guidance related to sustainability, climate
change and carbon. CIOB has published handbooks on UK and international
sustainability policy, an example of which is the 2004 publication on Procuring Legal and
Sustainable Timber. CIOB‟s Ambassador programme is closely tied to their policy
development with participants looking closely at changing behaviours and getting
feedback from industry. One of their Ambassadors worked with BSI on developing a new
standard for whole life costing. The Institute has recently taken a strategic decision to
approach the creation of guidance and toolkits in a new way, through online broadcasts
via their website. The first was on-site waste management plans with another in
preparation on carbon and existing buildings.
5.12 Outside the ambit of CIC, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has produced
a toolkit on the property life cycle.
5.13 BSRIA is keen to promote Building Information Modelling, a system which allows
simultaneous working by different professionals. If one discipline needs to change
something, this can then be incorporated into the design and the effects extrapolated on
all other aspects of the model – structural engineering, heating, etc. Whole life costing
can be also included. The end result will be to promote the creation of institutional
5.14 The CIC Consultants‟ Contract is also seen as a means to create institutional
bridges, integrated working and new ways of working. ICE‟s NEC3 series of contracts
also attempts to enable integrated working, and is being used in the 2012 Olympic
5.15 ICE has pioneered several vehicles for the promotion of high standards. In 2000
it launched CEEQUAL, the civil engineering and public realm equivalent of BREEAM
which is being used in the 2012 Olympic project. The Institute‟s Demolition Protocol is
widely used and it has published a “Guide to Whole Life Value in Infrastructure and
Buildings” with CIRIA, BRE and Transport Research Laboratory (TRL). Following a
number of Waste and Resource Management projects examining the carbon impact of
different waste treatment options, ICE has produced a “Case for a Resource
5.16 CIRIA‟s Rock Manual is an example of a “how-to” guide which emerged from
hard-won experience and lead on to training courses and networking events focused on
improving practice. The Institute is currently developing a new edition of its site waste
management plan tools bringing in the carbon dimension.
Climate change tools
5.17 RIBA is currently part way through a commitment to produce a series of Climate
Change Tools. Already published are: “Climate Change Briefing”; “Low Carbon
Standards and Assessment Methods” and; “Low Carbon Design Tools”. To follow are :
“Carbon Literacy Briefing”; “Low Carbon Skills and Training” and; “Principles of Low
Carbon Design and Refurbishment”. The final one in the series will be on the topic of
embodied energy. The publications cover a range of standards available ranging from
Building Regulations to the Energy Savings Trust‟s Best Practice Energy Standards.
These documents are available as free downloads and numerous copies have been sent
directly to schools, universities and practices.
5.18 RIBA note that many prominent architecture practices are taking a lead
themselves but many others will not go any further than the minimum required because
of current difficult market conditions. However, some innovations such as HIPS and
building labeling are improving client knowledge which is leading to greater demand for
consultants with the necessary skills.
5.19 CIBSE has produced a Low Carbon Toolkit which is freely downloadable by all
CIBSE members. The CIBSE Knowledge Series provides easily understandable
guidance for clients as well as professionals. CIBSE Guide L: Sustainability provides
comprehensive coverage of the topic for engineers. The companion „Introduction to
Sustainability‟ is a shorter summary of the subject intended for CIBSE members to give
to clients and fellow professionals to stimulate their interest and give them a good
background to the issue. Sustainability underpins almost all publications work within the
5.20 RICS has been working in the field of energy efficiency for many years. This was
not badged as carbon, but as the green agenda has risen in the property sector, the
institute has begun to look at existing guidance and tools and are renaming them where
appropriate in order to help members make the connections. There are no specific
carbon toolkits but RICS publish three levels of guidance notes, the first being
mandatory (the Red Book), the second a note on good practice and the third an
5.21 There are no plans at present to make any guidance on carbon mandatory. The
RICS is a very large organisation with 17 different faculties and low carbon issues
impact in a wide variety of ways. Making the connections and getting the right slant on
things into circulation with members is the biggest challenge. The Institute‟s
Sustainability Working Group which arose from the 2007 RICS Presidential Commission
on Sustainability is now focusing in detail on how sustainability affects surveyors.
6. Case studies and best practice
Case studies and best practice are crucial to embolden the large proportion of
consultants who are not risk takers and who stick to bottom line relationships with
Real life examples
6.1 Without knowledge (i.e. information that people have confidence in) practitioners
become cynical and dismissive of the true nature of the climate change challenge. If risk
can be minimized through convincing real life examples of what works and what has
been adequately tested or researched, confidence will grow along with a concern for
professional excellence. Without that, and a combination of stronger leadership from the
professional institutions together with more ambitious carbon-related requirements from
members, most consultants will remain more focused on winning fees than delivering to
the client brief within the appropriate regulations.
6.2 The topicality of concerns about carbon and climate change in general are
throwing up the need for both collaborative research and best practice case studies
because at the moment there are several definitions and approaches to the same
issues. This mirrors the fragmentation of the industry (the largest firm in construction has
only 3% of the market) and is a real impediment to making progress.
6.3 A range of case studies of relevance to low or zero carbon is available from the
professional institutions. However, the emphasis is on specialisms. There is a low level
of visibility of the inter-relationships of the different professional disciplines in relation to
carbon solutions. What is missing are case studies which illuminate the nature of
changing working practices and in particular integrated working.
6.4 However even where case studies are made available, familiarity is very low.
CIOB‟s 2007 survey “The Green Perspective” asked respondents (850 built environment
professionals) for their opinions about the projects that are the best examples of green
construction. The results were:
2. Don‟t know
3. BREEAM eco-homes
4. Eden project
5. Welsh Assembly Building
That „don‟t know‟ was the second largest category is an indication of the low levels of
Zero carbon definition
6.5 A fundamental element of generating credible case studies is the definition of
zero carbon and this is still somewhat elusive. In 2007 the Government introduced a
significant incentive to creating a definition in the shape of exempting new build zero
carbon homes from stamp duty to be achieved through a certification process based on
the Code for Sustainable Homes.
6.6 In August 2008 the lack of clarity on definitions and measurement led CIOB to
issue a policy statement on the definition of zero carbon. It recommends and supports
A new definition that can be applied consistently across domestic and non-
A definition that recognizes the contribution of off-site energy solutions to the
net carbon dioxide emissions of a development.
Off-site energy solutions that are specifically built to deliver the energy needs of
The role of the Zero Carbon Hub (established June 2008) for implementing the
Government‟s zero carbon building targets.
A more detailed review of the embodied energy contributing to the net carbon
emission of buildings.
That Government provide definitive guidance to the construction and utility
service industries on private wire arrangements.
6.7 The final point refers to a recent European Court of Justice decision that private
wire arrangements may be anti-competitive. CIOB believes that this, and the exclusion
of off-site renewable energy sources not delivered by private wire, makes the zero
carbon definition contained in the Code for Sustainable Homes Technical Guidance
(April 2008), the most recent definition available, unrealistic and unachievable on up to
80% of new homes. Community heating is an under-appreciated potential solution,
although the All-party Group on Greening the Urban Environment said if government
wants to reach its targets, it will have to bring community heating forward.
6.8 Existing definitions of zero carbon also do not account for embodied energy, a
significant component of the life cycle impact of buildings.
6.9 Bearing in mind these caveats, institutions promote case studies largely because
members indicate that one of their greatest needs is to learn about what works.
Green buildings can be complex to operate
6.10 BIFM publishes a series of good practice guides and there is a sustainability
section in each. Carbon reduction is expected to be a part of the approach to
sustainability. No separate good practice guide on low carbon has been produced yet
and this approach is shared by other institutions which have a holistic approach to
climate change issues, with carbon sitting alongside water, waste, biodiversity and other
aspects. BIFM also warn that some green buildings are so complex it is very difficult to
operate them. Hand-over to the facilities manager on completion is no longer an
acceptable model. Facilities managers must get involved much earlier with design teams
and they can be key to refurbishment as they are often the people who commission
other professionals on behalf of the client.
6.11 CIBSE focuses strongly on best practice: the main vehicle being the CIBSE
Guide of which there are 11 volumes. These are widely regarded as authoritative
sources. “Introduction to Sustainability” is interdisciplinary, covers rainwater harvesting,
drainage and SUDS and is aimed at non-engineers. The volume on energy efficient
buildings is about to be revised. The guide is supported by online tools.
6.12 Many institutions, including CIBSE, publicise their selected case studies in their
6.13 The LI highlighted 10 case studies in their position statement on climate change.
6.14 CIOB collaborates with BRE to produce case study material and their
involvement with Ecobuild has also generated case studies.
6.15 ICE has the biggest civil engineering library in the world and publishes large
amounts of best practice material in journals and on its website. This is supplemented by
case studies on the CEEQUAL website which has a significant amount of useful material
under the Awards tab on the home page.
6.16 There is a clear appetite for many more rigorous case studies with a stronger
carbon focus covering a range of topics including domestic wind turbines, off-site
construction, waste management, the relationship between carbon and water,
refurbishment of public buildings especially schools, hospitals and healthcare buildings,
the costs and savings of using low carbon technologies, and adapting existing buildings
to cope with higher summer temperatures without increasing carbon emissions.
6.17 Some clients are taking the initiative to achieve best practice. Mace Group for
instance, whose corporate ethos is best practice, have introduced a series of training
programmes which sub-contractors wishing to get onto their tender list have to
undertake. Greater Manchester Social Housing is doing the same for their refurbishment
and facilities management work.
6.18 Institutions‟ approach to keeping their own house in order can provide important
case studies and a significant element of leadership. CIBSE, RIBA, BRE and CIOB have
been making significant strides in this respect. CIBSE has recently undertaken a major
project to renovate its own HQ and to demonstrate how the carbon emissions of a 140
year old building can be reduced by a variety of measures including the installation of
new boilers, triple glazing, and improved daylighting as well as behavioural changes
within the organisation. The objective was to cut emissions by 60%.
6.19 RIBA have also committed to changing their corporate behaviour and have done
an energy audit, establishing performance indicators against which they will publish
progress reports. CIOB has undertaken a similar exercise with the Carbon Trust. BRE
has set itself challenging sustainability targets which it reports on annually in its
Sustainability Report. These examples need to be given much more prominence.
7. Research, Knowledge Transfer and Communications
The arrival of the website and email has transformed the way professional institutions
communicate with their members, not always for the better.
The web revolution
7.1 The proliferation of information and the ease with which links can be created
between websites and emails mean that there is a huge body of information sources
competing with each other for attention. Members can feel overwhelmed or confused
and fall back on the tried, tested and familiar. Focus and the willingness to learn, take
risks and innovate can often get lost. The sense that professional institutes need only
shovel as much information as possible into the mouths of hungry members can
dissipate any real commitment to stipulating – or at least articulating unequivocally -
what standards members should be adhering to. Websites are a „pull‟ form of
communication – it is left to individuals to take from it whatever they want, while journals,
practice notes, guidance notes, study notes and syllabi are „push‟, especially if the
content carries the weight of mandatory status or is to be examined in some way for an
7.2 The detailed web audit generated an overriding sense of the construction
industry not only appreciating the importance of the issue of climate change but
acknowledging the role it has to play. CIBSE, BRE and RICS were notable in actively
promoting sustainability through their homepages but if climate change, and carbon, are
the biggest issues facing the construction industry this is not sufficiently apparent from
the homepages reviewed. This is an important point as the websites are not only
vehicles for communicating with members, they are the shop window and showcase for
the general public and other interest groups such as researchers, commentators, clients
and opinion formers of every stripe. Website homepages are a vital forum for promoting
the industry‟s key messages – especially where there is a public interest dimension.
These websites need to have a progressive feel, going beyond generic „brochure‟ type
promotion of the purposes and achievements of the institutions concerned occasionally
refreshed by the latest news.
7.3 However, it is clear that institutions understand the importance of websites. CIOB
is revamping its website in the coming year to give greater prominence to guidance,
tools and best practice. IStructE launched a new, easier to navigate website with a range
of resources and links on sustainability in January 2009. BSRIA is developing a „webinar‟
programme of online training.
7.4 The LI is completing a project to create a co-ordinated family of websites
incorporating the branches who are key to member engagement. This institute has been
focusing closely on the role of branches and is working closely with them to deliver a
new policy on CPD. ICE and RIBA also have strong regional networks which are
important to member engagement on sustainability and low carbon practice.
7.5 ACE has also been redesigning its website to enhance its role as a vehicle for
sharing effective practice through, for example, case studies submitted by member
companies. ACE‟s Sustainable Roads web resource is compiled and edited by
members, allowing companies to disseminate effective practice in all aspects of
sustainable road planning, construction and maintenance.
7.6 The NHBC Foundation was established in 2006 as a research body to support
the house-building industry on important policy areas. Its main focus has been on
sustainability policy and it has produced a number of well received reports, accessible
from the NHBC website. The most recent one “Zero Carbon: what does it mean to
homeowners and house-builders?” includes a survey on the views of the public. Other
reports on a similar theme include “Climate Change and Innovation in House-building”,
“Ground Source Heat Pump Systems” and “A Review of Microgeneration and
Renewable Energy Technologies”.
Knowledge transfer networks
7.7 Knowledge Transfer Networks in various guises are popular. CIRIA has
developed one funded by the Technology Strategy Board. However this is focused on
innovation rather than supporting practitioners to implement what is already known.
CIOB is supporting an Innovation Research Panel which is made up of 10 members and
10 academics, who, amongst other things, are developing a knowledge transfer
partnership between industry and academia due to be launched in 2009.
7.8 BIFM established a partnership with Reading University three years ago and
together they are developing a Knowledge Transfer Network due to be launched in
March 2009. This is also being part-funded by the Government‟s Technology Strategy
Board and will create a web-based portal generating guidance and toolkits to give
facilities managers specialist knowledge on sustainability. BIFM see this as crucial to
progress as individual research to support a project often leads to confusion, when
facilities managers (FMs) want a road map through what is now a difficult maze. The
Institute also points out that the recent emphasis on green design in new build and major
refurbishment does not help FMs who are dealing with the vast majority of stock which is
not new. Most professionals are dealing with this stock and change is happening much
too slowly. This is attributed to the lack of knowledge amongst FMs and employers.
7.9 BIFM believe that sustainability is seen as an additional cost by many employers
not a business advantage. Payroll costs are more important than the marginal savings to
be made on energy efficiency and this point is supported by CIBSE who say that
companies are not seeing their general maintenance programmes as an opportunity to
reduce carbon, although energy prices and EPCs are beginning to have an effect in this
respect. Neither are companies recognizing the potential scope for their building
operators to reduce carbon. The business case has to include issues like staff retention,
staff performance, and brand value not just energy saving but the softer issues have not
been properly articulated. The way people use buildings and the ideas the public,
shareholders and employees have about climate change have to be factored in to whole
life costing, the creation of standards and how these are communicated.
7.10 Some would contend that professional institutions could do much more to
influence public opinion, an important factor as this in turn affects a wide range of
activities including policy-making, regulation, education and careers choices. The
chronic shortage of certain skills in the built environment has been mentioned in other
contexts, most recently in a report “Mind the Skills Gap” from the Academy for
Sustainable Communities, although the findings of this report have perhaps been
overtaken by recent economic events. The increasing pressure arising from the need to
mitigate and adapt to climate change suggests that the problem can only worsen without
a concerted national programme to increase the take-up of careers and re-training in the
built environment professions.
7.11 Solid, academic research is supported by the institutions in a variety of ways.
CIOB has its Ambassadors scheme, tied to policy development, and run a scholars
scheme with the Worshipful Company of Builders. One of their Ambassadors worked on
a whole life costing standard with BSI and on energy performance certificates. These
schemes are also geared towards facilitating an integrated network and developing the
mindset for integrated team working which is noticeably driven by life cycle projects.
7.12 BSRIA are strongly of the view that the construction industry needs people who
are willing to challenge but they are in short supply, both at the level of the recent
graduate and in more senior positions. Interestingly, a recent CIOB survey on
“Leadership in the Construction Industry” exposed a stark lack of leadership by objective
measures, yet 90% of respondents believed themselves to be above average or
excellent leaders. There appears to be a difference between the traits and qualities
possessed by leaders in the construction industry compared with leaders outside the
industry in other sectors. The research suggested that the industry may need to focus on
the „softer‟ skills of relationship management, creativity and emotional intelligence in
order to develop great leaders. There is a growing awareness of the need to improve the
communications skills of construction professionals across the board. The research also
describes a lack of leadership at company level for improving the sustainability of the
7.13 ICE reports from its experience that leading figures in engineering understand the
issue but that there is a long tail of members who will not make the running with clients if
they are not receptive. This is not confined to engineers. The role of the professional
consultant in guiding clients and protecting important standards is not adhered to as
much as it ought to be given the remit of professional membership bodies articulated in
documents such as Royal Charters, charitable objectives, Codes of Conduct.
7.14 BSRIA point out that the sector also has an institutional approach which leads to
a long drawn out incremental feedback mechanism on projects that is much too slow for
the rapid learning needed in the new conditions. A determined effort needs to be made
to break this model and the professional institutions have a critical role to play in
achieving this through collaborating on clear, agreed guidance that helps people avoid
risk and develop confidence in changed behaviour. A widely held view is that the
construction industry responds to being told what to do and how to do it and there is not
enough clarity in relation to carbon and sustainability. Health and Safety professionals
tend to be clearer about their individual responsibilities because of the clarity established
around the standards they have to meet. It is interesting to note in this context that
training on the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2007
has been popular with workaday professionals in the past year or so.
7.15 With the high level debates about climate change now over, what remains is a
series of implementation problems which the construction professional mindset is well
placed to resolve if the right links can be made. In particular linear processes in
construction, the baton-passing model, have had their day and it is essential to find ways
of making integrated teams work.
7.16 This suggests a thorough analysis of the construction process, and its financial
and remuneration models, needs to be undertaken with a view to business process re-
engineering. New e-products such as Buildsmart are helping evolve new approaches but
with market-led change there is the real risk of passive resistance for fear of getting it
wrong. The role of the institutions in building confidence in new methods is crucial.
7.17 The fragmentation of the industry is a real problem and this is felt to be
particularly serious in the area of research. The privatisation of the research
establishments, requiring them to function on business principles, is seen as having had
a serious impact on the UK‟s research and development base in construction. Research
is now paid for by the private sector, and against the fragmentation of the industry, this is
leading to a dearth of knowledge and advice on which the government can act for the
broader public and industry‟s benefit. Some of the professional institutes with large
memberships and a strong global footprint such as RICS and ICE, are able to undertake
research. The BRE Trust is a significant player in the research field, currently spending
around £2million a year. With no dominant players in the commercial sector little
Research and Development is being picked up by private enterprise and there are
doubts that the National Platform and Technology Strategy Board programmes can have
the impact required.
7.18 In an effort to provide research focus, leadership, to set standards and to drive
forward a national programme of action in the built environment on climate change, the
2008 Select Committee Report „Construction Matters‟ recommended the creation of a
Chief Construction Officer, a move for which there was widespread support. The
Government agreed with the recommendation and announced in October 2008 that it
was to consult on the appointment, due to be made in 2009. In the same spirit of putting
construction experts at the heart of government activity, several institutions, including
ICE and the LI, lobbied the government on the composition of the Climate Change
Committee, believing that there were too many economists and not enough specialists
representing the delivery side of change.
7.19 The research landscape has a clear link to generating the best possible focused
and authoritative practical information for which clients and consultants have a clear
appetite. If it is not able to produce convincing science to support new techniques and
methodologies it will be difficult to give people the tools in which they can have a high
level of confidence.
7.20 Adaptation issues are increasingly emerging in the research community. Water-
related inquiry is a major focus. Flooding and drought require new thinking about
infrastructure alongside the relationship between carbon and water supply. Through
regulatory mechanisms Ofwat and Defra are beginning to require the water utilities to
reduce carbon, produce carbon budgets, increase efficiencies and drive down
emissions. This will also increase client demand for suitably qualified professionals and
solutions that are not entirely dependent on hard engineering.
7.21 Other topics emerging in the research community include the need to focus more
on the social aspects of climate change solutions. More studies are needed about the
behaviour of the users of buildings and places to inform the design decisions of
professionals. BRE are about to begin testing a Code Level 6 house with a real family
living there for weeks at a time throughout the coming year. More work also needs to be
done on the adaptability and flexibility of buildings to “future-proof” them for new uses,
changing demographics and changing technology. This is particular relevant to housing
and healthcare buildings for example.
7.22 ICE is working on the government‟s first carbon budget due in 2009 and has
already, through submissions on the Climate Change Act and the Royal Commission on
Environmental Pollution, offered a sense of how civil engineering solutions can work
towards the current 80% reduction in emissions target by 2050.
7.23 Bodies such as BRE, BSRIA, CIBSE, ICE and RICS have extensive publication
programmes which they use to disseminate knowledge. BSRIA have produced seven
different documents relating to whole life carbon which are free to members. CIBSE
have produced new guides on topics such as sustainability and maintenance
engineering as well as a portfolio of publications dealing with carbon emissions. ICE has
10 specialist journals including a recent new title, “Engineering Sustainability”. The RICS
Sustainability Working Group supports an electronic community feeding relevant
information into their Faculty Boards and relevant journals. The research department at
RICS has a strong focus on energy, producing factsheets and engaging closely with
members. Research on climate change features as part of the RICS forward work
programme particularly in tandem with Oxford Brookes University and CIBSE have
climate change work underway in collaboration with Oxford, UCL, Loughborough and
7.24 RIBA has an Executive Board for Climate Change and a Sustainable Futures
Group which combine the establishment of RIBA positions and dissemination of
information. It is also developing wikipedia-style resource. RIBA and CIBSE are partners
in the CarbonBuzz project, which seeks to encourage architects and engineers to
address energy use in buildings more thoroughly at the design stage of a project. The
IStructE Sustainable Construction Panel is producing a series of briefing sheets on
sustainability topics made available publicly on their website and their Executive Board
has agreed to proposals for an environmental audit of the Institution and the
appointment of a part-time Sustainability Champion.
8. Public affairs, government and international relations
Almost all of those who have contributed to this report are actively engaged in working
directly with government to develop policy and standards, responding to consultations,
or lobbying on key issues.
8.1 ACE for example, provided responses to government consultations on promoting
property level flood resilience, the UK Renewable Energy Strategy, and appraisal for
flooding and coastal erosion risk management. The NHBC recently submitted evidence
to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee study on housing and the
credit crunch which included a section on the implications of zero carbon.
8.2 ICE has had a focus on the Treasury‟s work on carbon budgeting and has
lobbied to make the link between waste, energy and climate change policy. CIBSE is
inputting to Communities and Local Government‟s revisions of Parts F and L of the
Building Regulations and the review of the Code for Sustainable Homes and is heavily
engaged in the ongoing development of energy certification. RICS has focused on topics
such as VAT and refurbishment. The LI has been inputting to standards for eco-towns.
8.3 RIBA has a strong commitment to public affairs work and supports the
development by CIC of a strong public affairs strategy. Along with 20 other
organisations, RIBA ran a Climate Clinic at each of the major party conferences in 2008.
Educating the public client
8.4 RIBA is particularly keen to emphasise the importance of the role of large public
procurement projects in leading good practice on the response to climate change. Public
clients do not come very well prepared, with a properly developed brief, before going to
the market, yet they constitute 40% of the sector. This issue about needing to educate
clients was raised by several institutions. The Treasury has said it understands the point
and the new edition of the Green Book Construction Supplement covering whole life
costing and carbon pricing states that there must be better client preparation. There is
not however sufficient confidence that this is translating into changed behaviour.
8.5 An example would be the Buildings Schools for the Future programme which did
not produce a brief for sustainability or carbon. The role of local government is important
in this and it is believed that greater networking between the different branches and
levels of government on public procurement and carbon is needed.
8.6 BRE also raised the issue of Defra‟s off-setting policy. Many clients would like to
off-set in the UK but the government‟s policy is preventing this and thereby slowing the
development of a potential market in the UK and the take-up of new technology.
8.7 A willingness to mandate the highest possible standards in the public estate also
seems to be missing: while M&S requires all of its new stores to be BREEAM excellent,
the Office of Government Commerce can only advise that this should be the aim – it has
no power to enforce it. BRE report that the Ministry of Defence were considering using
BREEAM but found some elements too challenging and adopted a lower standard.
8.8 CIBSE‟s Carbon 60 project – to reduce its own buildings emissions by 60% -
arose from its relationship with the then Environment Minister Michael Meacher. The
„Meacher Challenge‟ also led to the establishment of the CIBSE Energy Performance
Group, a direct response to the carbon agenda. It is a network on energy performance
dealing with information, events, training and publications and is not devoted to new
8.9 CIBSE also provides public leadership through its 100 days (and 100 hours) of
carbon clean-up campaigns and low carbon awards. These have run for the past two
years and involves businesses receiving free advice from members in return for
undertaking 100 days or hours of work to reduce their carbon emissions. Evaluation
suggests that companies are keen to get the free advice but carrying this through into
action is less certain.
8.10 CIBSE engages directly with various government departments. It is represented
on five of the six working groups set up by CLG to review the Part L regulations and
have relationships with BERR on renewable energy and with Defra on carbon reduction.
A big priority is getting the next round of changes to the Buildings Regulations right and
it is very concerned to ensure a strong focus is on existing buildings because the
standards for new buildings in the overall stock will only save less than 1% of the UK‟s
8.11 Several organisations have members and staff overseas and are active
particularly in Europe (because of the UK‟s EU membership) and China. In 2006 RIBA
signed up to the notion of Contraction and Convergence. This led to a motion to the UIA
in July 2008 to advocate an emission limitation agreement at the UN Climate Change
Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 on that principle. It is believed that this framework is
the simplest way to communicate to a confused industry exactly, on a global scale, how
much carbon has to be cut, by whom, and by when, rather by using national targets
which can be interpreted as the route to green taxes. The framework of government
level international treaties on climate change is not to the fore in most institutions‟ work
on climate change.
8.12 CIBSE has a close and active relationship with its US and European equivalents.
It has issued a joint statement with the US partner ASHRAE on climate change and is
active in the European level body. A range of Memoranda of Understanding with the
overseas equivalents of CIBSE have been produced. The LI is a member of both the
European and world level professional associations for landscape architecture and has a
Memorandum of Understanding with its Chinese counterpart. ICE is a member of a
number of international organizations (the European Council of Civil Engineers, the
World Federation of Engineering Organisations and the Commonwealth Engineering
Council) but it is difficult to assess the potential of membership of these networks in
exercising influence in this area.
9. In conclusion
The challenge ahead
9.1 It is clear that the institutions are engaging with carbon and climate change
issues across a broad range of initiatives with ongoing projects leading to the
development of work streams in the coming period. An unequivocal and consistent focus
on carbon as the proxy is not apparent although some institutions have embraced this.
Few have carbon as the key message to members, or, through their websites, to the
general public. Some institutions aspire to work more on carbon and may be committed
to doing so. This, of course, is subject to resource allocation within their organisations,
and generally arises from member or client demand and need.
9.2 Energy use in the water industry is huge. Because of pressure from Defra and
Ofwat the water utilities are having to look at their carbon footprint. More work is needed
on adaptation to inevitable climate change also, particularly related to flooding. The UK
Climate Impacts Programme would like to see the professional institutes doing much
more on adaptation alongside the work to date on mitigation. CIRIA is working on
carbon and water, and carbon and waste management, the production of a new edition
of their site waste management plan tool bringing in the carbon dimension.
9.3 CIRIA have found that there is further demand from industry for guidance on best
practice in how to refurbish schools, hospitals and healthcare buildings to reduce
emissions. There is also a need for a guide to the costs and CO2 savings from low
carbon technologies based on actual projects. Contractors need help measuring and
reducing CO2 emissions on site and work is needed on how to adapt existing buildings
to cope with higher summer temperatures without increasing CO2 emissions.
9.4 ICE is working on carbon budgeting and are aiming to set up projects to amass
baseline data on highways and carbon, and water infrastructure and carbon. They have
offered to work through CIC on a carbon/infrastructure project and have a rolling
programme of design guides.
9.5 RICS is focusing on research into carbon issues and considering the low carbon
content of their CPD offer while promoting their electronic community on sustainability.
They have already done a lot of work on whole life costing which could be taken forward
through CIC in a cross-disciplinary way.
9.6 BRE is trialling a refurbishment equivalent of BREEAM with clients and
developing bespoke carbon management tools for clients. They have been talking to
awarding bodies about the possibility of developing a serious sustainability qualification.
RIBA are also interested in collaborating to develop a cross-disciplinary university
module on sustainability. Several bodies are looking at their accredited university course
syllabi and core competences for the professional examination and CPD. CIBSE is
linking to CITB ConstructionSkills and National Occupational Standards at NVQ level to
influence consistency in sustainability skills. CIOB is developing online CPD courses on
carbon footprint measurement, carbon off-setting and leadership.
9.7 Refurbishment and life extension of existing stock is a key part of both CIBSE
and BSRIA‟s work programmes and is cited by several organisations as crucial to further
9.8 RIBA has offered to work collaboratively with other CIC members on approaches
to low carbon design in both new build and refurbishment.
9.9 The broad range of involvement with government provides further opportunity to
influence standard setting and policy development.
9.10 There is a clear need for greater co-ordination of CIC members‟ efforts on carbon
reduction. The overall impression is that new targets, regulations and standards being
introduced by Government are leading to the need for new skills, greater confidence and
increased speed in implementation.
9.11 There is a significant gap between what is possible and what is happening in
practice and the general view is that clear definitions, focused best practice guidance,
authoritative case studies and mechanisms to drive integrated working such as multi-
disciplinary contracts, new forms of remuneration and innovation to end linear
approaches to the construction process, are the most urgent requirements.
9.12 The construction industry is generally risk averse and responds most to
regulation, particularly where it is supported in achieving compliance with regulations.
This is mirrored in the professional institutions‟ role as a regulator for standards through
accreditation of university courses, the professional qualification and CPD.
9.13 A consistent approach to the delivery of the low carbon economy through these
means would be a strong statement of intent to both members and other stakeholders.
Stronger requirements of membership are needed to rapidly upskill members to meet
the exacting targets the UK is setting.
Agree with government and relevant stakeholders a common working definition
of zero carbon, include embodied carbon and take into account entire lifecycle
Focus on existing stock in both buildings and places.
Retro-fit for adaptation as well as mitigation.
Analyse the construction process, redesign it for zero carbon budgets and
develop/use new contracts, software tools and remuneration models to drive
Engage closely with Higher Education on the content of accredited courses.
Examine and where necessary change the requirements of qualifying
examinations and CPD to make carbon reduction and climate change mitigation
and adaptation, central to professional practice.
Provide a national programme of training and professional development to upskill
construction professionals, involving clients and the entire construction supply
chain where possible in order to stimulate sustainable procurement.
Provide a suite of focused best practice guidance based on integrated working.
Promote a suite of detailed case studies, with measures of effectiveness, of
relevance to all disciplines.
Prioritise research and collaborative links with academia that can effect rapid
change and establish the credibility of guidance and case studies for clients,
practitioners and other stakeholders.
Focus academic research on providing an evidence base to demonstrate that
sustainability activities actually deliver carbon reduction.
Maintain strong input to government standard setting and policy-making.
Lobby government to ensure the public estate is the key exemplar.
Communicate forcefully with members and the public on the need for a national
mobilization on climate change and the role of construction professionals in
dealing with it.
The UK has extremely demanding targets for the reduction of carbon emissions.
They can only be met if the built environment professions galvanise their
knowledge base, their members and their powers of advocacy to provide the
necessary influence and expertise.
Full members of the Construction Industry Council
ABE Association of Building Engineers
ACA Association of Consultant Architects
ACE Association for Consultancy and Engineering
APM Association for Project Management
APS Association for Project Safety
BIFM British Institute of Facilities Management
BSRIA Building Services Research and Information Association
CEBE Centre for Education in the Built Environment
CIAT Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
CIBSE Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
CIOB Chartered Institute of Building
CIRIA Construction Industry Research and Information Association
GF Ground Forum
ICE Institution of Civil Engineers
ICES Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors
ICWGB Institute of Clerks of Works of Great Britain
IHIE Institute of Highways Incorporated Engineers
IHT Institution of Highways & Transportation
IMBM Institute of Maintenance and Building Management
IPHE Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering
Web link Institution of Structural Engineers
LI Landscape Institute
NHBC National House-Building Council
RIBA Royal Institute of British Architects
RICS Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
RTPI Royal Town Planning Institute
SCI Steel Construction Institute
TSA The Survey Association