Whole Life Carbon Assessment for Architects

This paper introduces architects to carbon assessment in the built environment and its application through the RIBA work stages. It makes the case for architects’ role in reducing carbon emissions to mitigate climate change, explains the key concepts of embodied and whole life carbon and recommends the use of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) methodology for undertaking whole life carbon assessments (RICS Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment professional statement).

Increasingly, clients in all sectors are commissioning WLC assessments as part of the project requirements. This is primarily driven by environmental considerations but also makes economic sense. Important benefits of WLC assessments include: a better understanding of the sourcing and processing of materials and products; an understanding of long term post completion considerations such as maintenance, durability and lifespan; and making plain the carbon value of retaining existing built fabric.

Undertaking WLC assessments is recommended for all architects who wish to understand and minimise the carbon emissions associated with their designs over the entire life cycle of the building. The knowledge gained from WLC assessments further enables architects to take the lead in sustainable design and construction. Architects intending to undertake WLC assessments should also refer to the full RICS professional statement.

Author: RIBA

Publication date: December 2019