Global design, engineering, and environmental consultancy Ramboll has set out an ambitious target to halve upfront embodied CO2 emissions from its new building projects by 2030
The commitment is part of a new global strategy focused on sustainability.
By implementing a range of innovative techniques, Ramboll aims to reduce carbon from all stages of the building lifecycle.
This includes embodied carbon; carbon emitted from manufacturing, raw material extraction, transportation, construction and building use; up to the dismantling and disposal of buildings.
Ramboll says embodied carbon from building projects alone currently accounts for 11% of global CO2 emissions, and typically amounts to 600kg of CO2 per sq m throughout the lifetime of a building.
To achieve this ambitious target, Ramboll will be challenging and driving innovation on material usage in buildings.
It has closely collaborated with the Canary Wharf Group on its low carbon concrete specification.
Along with 15 other industry pioneers it has recently become a signatory to Climate Group’s ConcreteZero initiative, which aims for 100% net zero concrete by 2050 and has committed to use 30% low emission concrete by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
Ramboll’s work in pioneering the use of sustainable timber is also gathering pace, featuring extensively in the design for Bruntwood Works’ Ev0 building - a low carbon new build workspace.
The team has worked extensively with academia, building control and fire specialists to pave a way forward for large-scale safe timber buildings.
Similarly, in its work with British Land, Ramboll has incorporated circular principles for the new Finsbury Avenue development.
These UK projects, like many others global initiatives, serve to set ambitions and grow common understanding of approaches that will pave a path for more sustainable buildings.
Accurate data collection is also a vital part of the built environment industry’s decarbonisation journey, ensuring a more informed basis on which to make decisions about sustainable sourcing of materials.
In 2022, Ramboll globally started calculating the embodied carbon on all new building projects larger than 1,000 sq m, irrespective of clients requesting it, whilst also championing the carbon value of any existing structures when facing demolition.
Additionally, as part of its new ambition, Ramboll will be ensuring suppliers provide specific data on any materials’ emissions. With this focus, Ramboll will further be helping drive greater innovations in the sector.
Ramboll’s executive director for buildings in the UK, Andrew Henderson, said: “The challenge is enormous. When you consider population growth, the global building stock by 2060 must expand by 230 billion sq m of new construction, according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction.
“It’s like having to build as many buildings as there are in the UK every year.
“We need to look at where we can have the biggest impact. Research shows that in new construction projects in the UK, building materials alone account for 80% of the climate impact over a 50-year period - operating energy accounts for the remaining 20%.
“We therefore must have a strong focus on material selection before and during the building activities for the construction of a new building, to help us meet our ambition to reduce CO2 emissions from the materials in our new building projects by 50% by 2030.”
Phil Kelly, head of sustainability for UK buildings at Ramboll, added: “From this year, all new buildings will be required to achieve nearly-zero-energy following the introduction of the new Part L of UK Building Regulations, which also supports all-electric energy strategies.
“Combined with the anticipated continued decarbonisation of the UK’s National Grid, operational emissions will become an ever-decreasing component of a building’s lifecycle carbon.
“With the already significant amount of emissions from the production of materials associated with building construction, the balance of a building’s lifecycle carbon footprint from materials will become an ever-increasing proportion, which is why this focus is so important and why we have made this commitment.”