Certificates

Updates to our Code of Practice - New Development Certification

The Planet Mark Code of Practice outlines how we undertake the carbon calculations which underpin certification to the Planet Mark New Development Certification. We have a duty to our members to ensure that the methodology we use is up-to-date and aligned, if not leading the way, in the calculation and reporting methodology of carbon emissions.

April 1, 2021
Words:
Sarah Gillett
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The updates to the Planet Mark Code of Practice review and strengthen the existing firm foundations of our New Development Certification. As the built environment sector in the UK moves towards net zero targets, it is even more crucial that the way in which new developments achieve certification is robust and transparent. These updates ensure a consistency and clarity across our certifications and data that is more easily verifiable.  

In addition to this, the updates align our New Development Certification more closely with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Professional Statement on whole life carbon assessment for the built environment (2017) and with the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Net Zero Carbon Buildings framework of construction carbon emissions (2019).  

The alignment with UKGBC’S Net Zero Carbon Buildings provides any building that achieves Planet Mark New Development Certification a clear pathway to be a net zero carbon building.  

We have updated our processes to offer clear guidance on the type of data that should be collected, streamlining the process for both the site teams and LCA consultants.  

These updates also ensure greater transparency in reporting of emissions and offsets.

Here is a breakdown of the key updates we’ve made to our Code of Practice:  

Scope and boundaries

It is now required for the LCA to cover all building elements listed below, except building services (mechanical, electrical and power) which are currently optional. These are optional due to a lack of evidence base on the embodied carbon of building services.

  • demolition works
  • enabling and ground works
  • the substructure
  • internal and external elements of the super structure  
  • finishes as well as fittings, furnishings and equipment  
  • MEP or building services
  • where appropriate prefabricated buildings and building units
  • works to an existing building
  • external works including but not limited to site preparation works, surfacing, soft landscaping, fencing, external fixtures, drainage and services

Method

The RICS Whole Life Carbon Method is now mandatory for UK assessments. This is a pre-cursor for Net Zero Carbon Buildings and improves consistency of carbon assessments.

Biogenic carbon content (carbon sequestration) is required to be included in results but shall also be reported separately for transparency. It is important that the end-of-life stage for items with biogenic carbon content is included.

Data collection

There is a greater focus and push for primary data to improve robustness of calculations.  

Carbon reduction efforts for both embodied carbon and operational carbon are required to occur as early into the design stage as possible.

Reporting

The breakdown of results has been standardised, to require breakdown by both building element and life-cycle stage, adding transparency and assisting embodied carbon hotspot identification.

Early-stage design carbon reduction efforts

Carbon reduction efforts for both embodied carbon and operational carbon are required to occur as early into the design stage as possible.

Operational carbon

There are requirements to provide evidence of operational carbon reduction efforts. For example, through a carbon reduction workshop and techno-economic feasibility assessment for renewables.  

Whole life carbon

The updated protocol provides stronger focus on whole life carbon reduction as the headline scope of assessment, being the sum of embodied and operational carbon over the lifetime of the building.  Reduction efforts for embodied and operational carbon are still required. However, a focus on whole life carbon reduction, allows a fair overall assessment of a building. For example, as thermal standards increase, there may be some buildings with more embodied carbon, but if that building has a very low operational carbon emission, it can still result in a low whole life carbon building.  

Results

Whole life carbon results shall be broken down by NRM (New Rules of Measurement) building element classification (e.g. substructure, frame, upper floors…etc) and by life cycle stage (known as Modules, A-C in the standard EN 15978:2011). Providing transparency and carbon hotspot identification

LCA consultant experience

The main consultant (individual) carrying out the LCA must have completed a minimum of 3 detailed carbon LCA’s for construction projects within the last 2 years.

LCA consultant reporting template

There is a new LCA reporting template. This offers enhanced clarity to LCA consultants on what needs to be considered for the verification of a development. It also identifies what needs to be included in the final report, for transparency.  

Carbon neutral products

There are an increasing number of carbon neutral building products available directly from product manufacturers. Carbon neutral (net zero carbon) products are recognised with standardised requirements on how to include these in the assessment. The embodied carbon before the use of carbon offsets must be reported, with the amount of carbon offset to be reported alongside.  

Net Zero Carbon Buildings

The Planet Mark New Development Certification is well aligned with UK GBC Net Zero Carbon Buildings.

Wider social and environmental benefits

LCA consultants are encouraged to report on the wider social and environmental benefits from the developments. This helps to highlight great work on wider but related topics.

You can read our full Code of Practice here.