Making comprehensive, substantial reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for buildings is a daunting prospect. The construction and operation of buildings contributes around 40% of worldwide GHG emissions, so change is expected and needed as part of global emissions targets.
Operational energy uses have previously been the area of focus for carbon accounting and target setting. The real estate sector however, is dominated by indirect emissions, otherwise known as Scope 3. These are typically more difficult to assess and reduce.
Regardless, the carbon emitted to construct both new-builds, and carry out retrofits to existing properties, must be duly considered when assessing the overall carbon impact of properties if we are to meet emissions targets.
Simple wins like removing wastage due to structural overdesign and assessing the lifecycle of building materials should be encouraged with immediate effect. Alongside an increased awareness of circular economy principles amongst industry professionals and a legislative framework that rewards a holistic approach to reducing carbon, we could all begin to push carbon emissions from the built environment in the right direction.