Arup pledges lifecycle carbon assessments on all projects

13 December 2021 3 min. read
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Engineering consultancy Arup has ruled out taking further work from energy schemes involving fossil fuels from April 2022. The global commitment comes as the firm also pledges to undertake whole lifecycle carbon assessments for all its buildings projects.

The global built environment sector is the source of almost 40% of global carbon emissions. In spite of this, less than an estimated 1% of buildings projects are currently evaluated in a way that quantifies the scale and source of carbon emissions generated during their lifespans.

According to Arup, whole lifecycle carbon assessment is the crucial next step that will allow the global buildings sector to progress toward 50% carbon emissions reduction by 2030. As such, Arup has committed to undertaking whole lifecycle carbon assessments for all its buildings projects – new and retrofit – from next year.

Arup pledges lifecycle carbon assessments on all projects

A release from the firm asserted that the insights Arup will gain after April 2022, from conducting thousands of whole lifecycle carbon assessments each year, will enable the built environment sector advance toward net zero. Meanwhile, the firm will also work to develop a methodology to extend whole lifecycle carbon assessments to its infrastructure work for clients. This comes as part of a significant investment in learning, tools, and training for its global teams to embed standardised methods for assessing whole lifecycle carbon.

Chairman Alan Belfield commented, “Whole lifecycle carbon assessment is the next step that must be taken to unlock decarbonisation of the built environment at scale. Our commitment to undertaking whole lifecycle carbon assessment for all of our buildings work means that for the first time we will have the data to share with our clients and with industry partners about the precise actions to be taken to decarbonise buildings – new or existing – most effectively.”

At the same time, Arup has also committed its energy commissions to focus entirely on low-carbon solutions, including wind, solar, hydroelectric, and hydrogen projects, which it assesses as advancing progress toward a fully decarbonised future. Meanwhile, April 2022 will see the firm cease to pursue new energy commission work which supports the extraction, refinement, or transportation of hydrocarbon-based fuel. A hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon found in crude oil, natural gas, and coal. However, the manufacture of hydrogen will be exempt from this commitment, as Arup considers it a necessary part of the transition to a net zero future.

Last year, Arup announced a commitment to achieve net zero across its global operations by 2030. The new announcement for 2022 adds to this, specifically addressing the emissions from Arup’s client work for the first time, across thousands of projects in 140 countries around the world. It follows remarks from Jo da Silva, Global Sustainable Development Leader at Arup, in 2020, which suggested that in the professional services world, the biggest impact audit and advisory firms will have is likely to come from their influence on clients – something many of the world’s largest consultancies are still struggling to address satisfactorily.