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GUEST ARTICLE: Collaboration is key to mitigating carbon emissions

  • 18 Oct 2022

Definitions and standards across the construction sector are rapidly evolving to ensure consistency when striving to meet net zero goals. A new report, produced by Prologis UK and Planet Mark, sets out a model for emissions reduction and mitigation for logistics property developers and others in the construction industry. This piece is from Martin Cooper, vice president of Project Management at Prologis UK…

“On average, the whole-life carbon emissions of a typical distribution centre are around 30 per cent operational (the amount of carbon emitted during the operational or in-use phase of a building) and 70 per cent embodied (the emissions produced as a result of the materials and manpower used during the building process).

Considerations for reducing operational emissions include giving attention to energy efficient design and optimising use of onsite renewables. On the other hand, while it is possible to reduce embodied carbon emissions through careful material selection and use of energy-efficiency construction methods, it can never be entirely eliminated.

Concrete

Despite this, the report shows how a sustainability model put in place by Prologis UK and Planet Mark has mitigated more than 100 per cent of the unavoidable embodied carbon emissions for 74 projects.

The report highlights the importance of engaging directly with the project design team, main contractor, and the supply chain to find ways to reduce or mitigate carbon emissions. The tried and tested model focuses on a three-step programme of measurement, engagement, and communication to ensure consistent delivery across each project.

Measurement

The whole-life carbon emissions for each project were measured in relation to a notional baseline using a lifecycle assessment (LCA). The LCA adheres to strict standards and methodologies. As a goal, the project team requires a minimum 2.5 per cent reduction of the building’s embodied and operational carbon emissions compared to the notional baseline.

Engagement

Engaging with stakeholders across the supply chain is crucial to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability and working together to reduce or mitigate carbon emissions. As well as measuring their success in terms of delivering against sustainability goals, the report quantifies the social value generated by the 74 projects assessed, which includes everything from job creation to community engagement initiatives.

Communication

Communication is integral to the Planet Mark certification process and plays an essential part in increasing awareness of sustainability issues and encouraging action. The sustainability model outlined in the report focuses on accountability and ensuring a high level of integrity, trust, and transparency across all projects.

The report underlines the difference that the sustainability model can make. By following this process across 74 projects spanning more than 19 million sq. ft. of development, Prologis UK has reduced its whole-life carbon emissions by 25 per cent (476,819 tCO2e) on average over a 15 year time period.

Furthermore, through its innovative carbon mitigation scheme, Prologis UK has mitigated unavoidable carbon emissions through its investment in large-scale rainforest protection programmes to avoid deforestation and lock-in carbon, through a partnership with global climate change charity, Cool Earth.

The report quantifies the positive impact that the collaborative sustainability model has had over the past 15 years; mitigating total embodied carbon emissions of 879,158 tCO2e through the protection of 17,683 acres of ‘at risk’ rainforest. This has prevented the loss of 4.1 million trees to deforestation, which would have resulted in potential emissions of 4.8 million tCO2e.

With the drive to raise sustainability standards across the industry, it is important that developers and other construction sector businesses share their experiences and expertise. Collaboration is key and by working together, the industry will establish best practice on route to net zero by 2040.”

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