Carbon reduction can be inhibited or enabled by the supply chain, which makes collaboration mission-critical, say Steve Tetlow and Nick Fawcett.
Project and asset owners have primary responsibility for reducing carbon. But the technical knowledge, skills and innovative potential to do so sits largely with the supply chain. As project owners engage with the radically enhanced specification for managing carbon, PAS 2080, and become accredited, they are recognising the need to deepen collaboration with contractors and sub-contractors. In many cases this means asking them to become accredited too.
PAS 2080 calls on clients to “incentivise collaborative contractual arrangements across the value chain.” It seeks to inspire and support change across all organisations involved in planning, designing, creating, managing and financing the built environment – buildings and infrastructure.
Ensuring that all organisations are using the PAS 2080 whole life carbon management approach does this. For organisations not yet familiar with it, these are the top six things that any supply chain PAS 2080 implementation programme needs to do:
- Integrate PAS 2080 into business management systems and apply it on projects
- Make clear that decarbonisation is a primary business objective through internal and external communication
- Build capacity and capability through root and branch staff training
- Use commercial models that incentivise decarbonisation
- Generate and employ carbon data, including detailed emissions factors for different materials – accounting for variations in concrete mix design, for example
- Collaborate, provide mutual support and share knowledge
Industry leaders have established a clear correlation between carbon and cost in the last decade – the majority of companies would benefit commercially by following their example. They have achieved very substantial carbon and financial savings by reducing the need for new construction, building more efficiently and innovating in their use of materials and construction techniques.
However, for many materials there is currently inadequate data: Emissions have been measured for only some materials, not all; where emissions are measured and reported, the methodologies and terminology used are inconsistent, making comparison difficult; and emissions factors are given for broad categories of materials that disguise large differences in the carbon intensity of specific materials. This challenge was highlighted at our 2022 Carbon Crunch event.
Supply chain collaboration and alignment with PAS 2080 are essential to change this. Suppliers need to measure and report the emissions factor for each material or product, using a common approach, to provide transparent data that can be used for robust decision-making.
For contractors with net zero targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, an international carbon advisory and standards body, using low carbon materials will be essential, else they will risk missing their corporate carbon reduction targets.
Clients must set stretching carbon reduction targets and incentivise their supply chain to develop and use low carbon materials that may initially be more expensive than conventional alternatives. Production of low carbon materials at scale should bring costs down over time. But if clients truly want low carbon solutions they will have to adjust their approach to bid evaluation, pursuing best value per tonne of carbon saved.
Similar incentivisation needs to flow through all tiers of the supply chain. Selection of the right contract can enable this. The NEC4 contract has included a new clause, X29, to incentivise carbon reduction.
Collaboration across the value chain
Project owners, regulators and standards bodies have key roles to play in evolving standards, and understanding how they can be flexed, to allow new thinking to be accepted. This requires collaboration to ensure that innovation is not held back. Clients can support this by specifying outcomes, not solutions. Clients will be able to accelerate the acceptance and upscaling of successful low carbon innovations by sharing information.
Collaboration also underpinned the government’s 2013 Infrastructure Carbon Review, which first identified the need for a carbon management standard. Mott MacDonald was one of the two co-authors and went on to co-author the first edition of PAS 2080 in 2016. This was also a highly collaborative enterprise, as has been the major update and expansion, launched in April 2023.
Mott MacDonald was the first design consultant to achieve PAS 2080 accreditation, in 2017. Our accreditation includes our design and build contracting business Mott MacDonald Bentley (MMB).
We have continuously advanced our capability to help clients operate and deliver projects in line with PAS 2080 by developing our business management system and processes, deploying digital solutions such as Moata Carbon Portal, and training and developing our staff. We have recently readied ourselves for the introduction of PAS 2080:2023.
- Register to learn more about PAS 2080. You’ll receive the latest insights from our carbon management experts as well as invitations to webinars and Q&A clinics on what PAS 2080 means for you and your organisation.
- Download the PAS 2080 specification here.
- Download the guidance document for PAS 2080 here.
- Contact email@example.com for more information about PAS 2080 or help accelerating your decarbonisation journey
Steve Tetlow is a director of Mott MacDonald Bentley and Mott MacDonald’s contracting business JN Bentley
Nick Fawcett is a director of Mott MacDonald Bentley