Four steps to identify the right carbon calculation methodology

As owners of large property portfolios prepare for net zero, they first need to understand their current greenhouse gas emissions, what they can do to minimise these, and how to measure success – ultimately ensuring that delivery matches what was planned.

But identifying the right carbon calculation methodology can prove difficult. And it can be hard to know where to begin. Tom Dearing, RPS Associate Director - Climate and EIA, shares his recommendation with four steps to set a net zero journey up for success.

Identifying the route to net zero

Long-term planning for net zero carbon needs to be adaptable and adoptable. And organisations need data to enable informed decisions. Understanding the carbon savings associated with each choice will allow the prioritisation of net zero carbon retrofit or development works based on a cost-benefit analysis. Working in partnership, we help clients to measure and interpret the data in order to recommend the most effective route to achieve net zero.

 

Step 1 - Develop a clear set of evaluation criteria

To define the evaluation criteria, ask the questions: what are the must-haves for the selected methodology? What challenges must it be adaptable to and what risks must it avoid?

We recommend these criteria are fleshed out in detail with all the key stakeholders at the outset.

One measure that must be included is scenario modelling. This is essential for clear goals with a defined timeframe to achieve net zero. But it’s also wise to consider:

  • Consistency with recognised approaches and definitions of net zero carbon
  • The availability of tools and level of specialist expertise needed
  • Adaptability to various data inputs and changing factors. For example – carbon intensity of electricity generation
Electricity generation

Step 2 – Identify and review

Next, identify and review existing standards, tools, and methodologies against the evaluation criteria. Forming a diverse panel with a range of industry expertise is incredibly beneficial here. An example would be bringing together experts from across RPS in key areas such as carbon assessment, project management, design and building services.

Tall skyscrapers

Step 3 – Initial recommendations

The completed evaluation with scoring and recommendations should be presented back to the key stakeholders. From our experience, the evaluation will most likely show existing methodologies that can be used or adapted effectively, while also highlighting gaps in individual approaches. At this point, we work with our client to tailor a methodology that combines the best of each and is specific to their sector and requirements.

residential development - aerial view

Step 4 – Testing

Testing is crucial and must cover ease of use, compatibility with the stock data available, and clarity of outputs. This stage will be closely linked to investment planning and cost benefit analysis, will identify improvements to the proposed plan and ensure it’s providing an optimal solution.

Here we would make a final recommendation setting out the most effective approach to achieve net zero carbon.

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Putting the steps into place

It goes without saying that planning has become incredibly difficult in recent years with the double impact of building safety and COVID-19. However, for organisations already looking to push ahead to 2050, putting new carbon efficiency procedures into practice now will see them reap the rewards across the next 30 years.

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