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RICS whole-life carbon assessment for the built environment — 2nd Edition

Dec 11, 2023 | Blog

What are the key changes coming in the 2nd Edition of RICS whole-life carbon assessment for the built environment, and how is One Click LCA supporting the new standard?

Credit: Olga Lioncat

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will implement an updated professional standard, effective from July 1, 2024. The 2nd Edition whole-life carbon assessment (WLCA) Professional Standard provides an updated methodology with the aim of equipping AEC sustainability professionals to make informed decisions about how to mitigate whole-life carbon impact of buildings and infrastructure.

The RICS 2nd Edition WLCA professional standard will apply a comprehensive approach to the entire life cycle of constructed assets, from material production to design, construction, and eventual end-of-life considerations. This framework aligns with the UK Net Zero Carbon Building Standard (NZCBS) and will be integral in evaluating net-zero carbon performance for buildings, with data submitted to the Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD).

Understanding the changes in RICS whole-life carbon assessment 2nd edition

RICS whole-life carbon assessment 2nd Edition Standard is an update to the 2017 release, a framework designed to measure carbon emissions from the production of construction materials to the eventual end-of-life of built assets.

Key Changes in the RICS 2nd Edition:

  • Standardises whole-life carbon assessment across asset life cycles, extending to both buildings and infrastructure.
  • Aligns with International Cost Management Standards (ICMS) 3rd Edition and Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD).
  • Incorporates industry-agreed definitions, introduces mandatory contingency allowances, and offers detailed data sources and conversion factors.
  • Provides an enhanced understanding of the carbon costs and benefits of design choices, developed in collaboration with the UK’s Department for Transport and Zero Waste Scotland.

New Reporting Stages Introduced:

  • A0 (Pre-construction stage): Typically reported for infrastructure projects, covering activities like surveys and actions associated with design.
  • B8: Covers user activities not included elsewhere, such as emissions from vehicles and commuting impacts during the in-use stage.
  • D1 and D2: Address potential carbon loads and benefits beyond system boundaries from reuse, recycling, energy recovery, or landfilling of materials.

How will the new standard impact sustainability in the built environment?

Contractors and developers adopting WLCA can align with future Government regulations and client demands for embodied carbon measurement, supporting sustainable and low-carbon building and infrastructure investments. The RICS whole-life carbon assessment 2nd Edition facilitates a consistent reporting approach, providing decision-makers with a long-term view of both cost and carbon throughout an asset’s life cycle.

The RICS 2nd Edition is anticipated to influence nations worldwide to incorporate its methodologies into regulatory structures.

Aligning with RICS 2nd Edition with One Click LCA

In early 2024, One Click LCA will release the RICS whole-life carbon assessment 2nd Edition tool. The platform will reflect the changes in the 2nd Edition, ensuring compliance with RICS reporting requirements, from concept and design to post-completion.

Some of the key features:

  • Incorporates new end-of-life scenarios complying with RICS scenarios.
  • Provides non-decarbonised and decarbonised results in one go.
  • Includes transportation profiles with embedded return trips.

One Click LCA’s automated report generation streamlines the process, making it easy for industry professionals to navigate the complexities of the new RICS standard. It will enable optimised, low-carbon impact building projects with access to compliance features.

The integration of generic data specific to RICS 2nd Edition in Carbon Designer 3D allows for the creation of early baseline designs with just a few clicks. One Click LCA’s commitment to providing the latest data aligns with the evolving standards, making it a valuable asset for the approximately 80% of RICS members comprising SMEs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will RICS WLCA 2nd Edition be aligned with the UK NET ZERO CARBON BUILDING STANDARD in the methodology and process?
Yes, the WLCA RICS 2nd Edition will be aligned with the UKZBC methodology and process.
Is User Carbon Activity from RICS LCA Standard a requirement to report?
It is optional to report, and can be challenging in early-phase projects. However, organisations may already have the required data and including it in assessments can provide interesting insights into B8 emissions.
The latest RICS guidance includes supporting Excel reporting templates. Will the new One Click tool (Q1 2024) be aligned to easily facilitate the completion of these specific RICS templates?
Yes. The new One Click LCA RICS tool will include Excel reports tailored to facilitate RICS reporting.
How does the RICS/One Click LCA calculator compare against CIBSE and TM65?

One is for buildings and infrastructure, one is for MEP products. One Click LCA already integrates with TM65 data and also has an EPD Generator tool that can be used by manufacturers, or consultants working for manufacturers.

When the TM65 data is incorporated, will it be possible to drill down to specific product types and iterations?
Yes. It will be possible to drill down by product type using our material type filter.
The new RICS methodology requires the inclusion of all modules for infrastructure. How would including this as a separate module allow inclusion of all A,B,C and D modules?
If you undertake infrastructure assessments according to the new RICS methodology, One Click LCA can support you with a number of tools, including the PAS2080 tool which enables infrastructure reporting to the EN17472 standard required by RICS.
Has there been any progress in updating the benchmarking against LETI in the UK?
We are working on the integration of various external benchmarking sets with the aim of introducing these with an update in 2024.
Does the BECD process align with the UKGBC Net Zero verification requirements?
BECD will provide the digital medium for reporting carbon figures to demonstrate conformity with the UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard, so will be the place where the results of the building LCA are reported publicly to be accessed by those verifying conformity to the Standard.

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