All you need to know about the revised PAS 2080 standard on carbon management

Our industry has an important role to play in the fight against climate change. The updated PAS 2080 standard is a huge leap forward for the decarbonisation of the built environment, and now we must all work together to deliver, writes Chris Landsburgh, climate associate at AECOM.

The revised and expanded PAS 2080 Carbon Management in Buildings and Infrastructure specification represents a massive advancement in how our industry can play a crucial role in enabling reductions in greenhouse gas emissions through greater understanding, thereby accelerating the charge to net zero.

PAS 2080 has established itself as the global gold standard for carbon management in infrastructure since its release by The British Standards Institution (BSI) in 2016. However, the upgrade – PAS 2080:2023 – introduces a decisive and exciting change: it is now the world’s first framework to unite both buildings and infrastructure in the decarbonisation of the built environment.


What’s in the new PAS2080:2023 revision?

The revised PAS demands that every part of the value chain works together to consider the whole life carbon of projects by bringing carbon impact into decision-making as early as possible, considering our assets as part of a wider system, and embedding best practices within procurement through to end-of-life management.

Furthermore, it requires industry to break the habit of viewing carbon with tunnel vision. Now, we must consider the importance and influence of interrelationships like nature-based solutions, climate adaptation and biodiversity and their impacts on carbon.

Everybody working in the built environment knows full well that collaboration is critical to accelerating decarbonisation. As industry contributes over 50 per cent of global carbon emissions, there is a huge task ahead of us. And so, we welcome a framework designed by and for the industry that emphasises and provides vital guidance on how it can be achieved across the full life of a project or programme.

The renewed PAS will undoubtedly help industry put the inconsistencies of the past behind it and collaborate to ensure we get the basics of carbon management right. It will boost cooperation to identify and mitigate emissions at every stage.

As a member of the Technical Advisory Panel for the revised PAS 2080: 2023, we are fully committed to working with all our partners and customers to ensure the specification is harnessed to its full potential in reducing the carbon impact of our projects.

Three key elements of the new PAS that should guide our thinking

As the industry continues on the decarbonisation path, there are three key elements to the new PAS that should guide our thinking:


1/ We must work together and factor in carbon thinking right from the start

At the heart of the renewed PAS is the recognition that there must be behavioural change if we’re to achieve our collective goals. And so it insists that all stakeholders, including owners, designers, constructors and suppliers, work together in a common framework from the earliest moments of a project. Only by doing that will projects be built on the firmest foundations for success.

As well as demanding leadership and improved governance, the framework establishes roles and responsibilities across the entire value chain to maintain a focus on carbon for the project’s lifetime.

It emphasises decisions and actions that reduce whole-life carbon as early as possible with the whole value chain considered rather than focusing on the capital (or embodied), operational or user carbon in isolation. This refreshed approach will influence broader participation and the sharing of results to reveal best practices for advancing decarbonisation.

The framework will also create a forum for parties to work together and think innovatively about which delivery approaches will work best for people and planet, such as the consideration of retrofit over new build, or the adoption of digital tools and processes.


2/ PAS 2080 certification demonstrates a clear commitment to climate action

It is notable and impressive how many people working in this industry are passionate about making a difference. Adopting the revised PAS 2080 provides us with a framework that will enable the transition to a low-carbon built environment and a means of validating this commitment. Verification will indicate adherence to the industry’s very best practices and will demonstrate clear climate action leadership.

And it also makes business sense. Users can reduce their energy, labour and material costs and win a competitive edge when bidding for tenders in an increasingly carbon and climate-aware world. In the UK for example, government-funded arms-length bodies such as major infrastructure providers National Highways, High Speed Two (HS2) and Network Rail are required to be PAS2080 certified in 2023. This will have wider implications as their supply chain will need to demonstrate compliance too.


3/ Maximise opportunities to build climate resilience

PAS 2080 acknowledges the shared obligation of the industry to contribute towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

It goes beyond carbon reduction and promotes a holistic approach to project planning that considers the broader impact on climate resilience, biodiversity, and environmental restoration.


A platform for rapid change

PAS 2080 is becoming an increasingly important means of promoting decarbonisation. As panel members of the Institution of Civil Engineers’s (ICE) Carbon Champions Programme, we have observed numerous instances of good practices and innovation within the industry that have resulted from these commitments.

The principles underpinning PAS 2080:2023 are already embraced by ScopeXTM – AECOM’s approach to solving for carbon. We strongly support our clients’ ambitious decarbonisation commitments and PAS 2080 requirements for their supply chain. It reflects our common drive for decarbonisation, and together enables us to identify and implement innovations and opportunities to create a more sustainable built environment, which is core to the AECOM’s ScopeXTM approach.

We are excited to collaborate with our clients to push the boundaries of best practices and drive progress towards a more sustainable future for the built environment.

PAS 2080 guidance

Click here to download the PAS 2080 Guidance Document which sets out the new industry requirements while showcasing ways in which professionals can adopt the renewed carbon management process across numerous scenarios as well as various stages of the project lifecycle.