Industry unites to develop common carbon database

Image: 39103089 © Irstone |

A common carbon database for the built environment is being developed by a consortium of the sector’s associations and institutions and will be launched in stages next year.

Known as the Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD), it will comprise two sections: the first section contains data at entity level, providing benchmark-type data points to support the feasibility, early design and end of life stages; the second part contains data at product level to support the evolving and detailed design, construction and operational stages, and provide good-quality product data to conduct reliable assessments.

Both database sections will be fully digital to allow data import and export through appropriate data formats and dedicated APIs. The consortium noted: “Data input by professionals conducting carbon assessments is essential for the BECD to remain up-to-date and relevant, but this will need to be supported by validation procedures to ensure the data is reliable.”

Both sections will be launched in progressive stages, to allow users to get acquainted with the digital platform and provide feedback on functionality and user experience. The first stage of the first section will be available in Q1 2022, and will comprise building data imported from a range of existing sources. The first stage of the second section is planned to be launched in Q3 2022, and will comprise product data imported from existing environmental product declarations and other sources.

“The database is being designed to be the main source of data for carbon estimating and benchmarking in the UK construction sector.”

James Fiske, RICS

Blogging for the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), James Fiske at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said: “The measurement and reporting of embodied carbon is not universally mandated on construction projects. Where it is undertaken, ‘what’ is measured and ‘how’ it’s measured is not consistent. This means if you engaged different teams to report embodied carbon for the same thing, you will likely get very different numbers back. Not that any of them are necessarily incorrect – it’s just what they have measured and what data they have used is likely to be different.

“So therefore, we cannot be confident we are always making the right choices to drive toward net zero. This inconsistency also means that it is not easy to compare, improve and learn from other construction projects.

“That is why … the database is being designed to be the main source of data for carbon estimating and benchmarking in the UK construction sector and to serve as a practical tool to support the decarbonisation of our buildings and infrastructure.” 

A white paper sets out the consortium’s plans in more detail.

As well as the CIOB and RICS, the consortium includes BRE, the Carbon Trust, the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, the Construction Industry Council, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Structural Engineers, Royal Institute of British Architects, and the UK Green Building Council.

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