Demolition dealt double blow

The UK demolition industry faces the prospect of being caught in a legislative pincer movement as the embodied carbon lobby continues to gather both pace and momentum.

And those within the demolition fraternity that dismissed embodied carbon concerns as a flash in the pan may yet rue the day they failed to heed the warnings all around them.

According to a report in the revered and respected Architects Journal, Labour peer Baroness Andrews has tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that is currently going through Parliament. Submitted on behalf of The Victorian Society, that amendment could make it mandatory for ALL demolitions to require planning permission.

Victorian Society director Joe O’Donnell said many historic buildings had been flattened through permitted development and that, in any case, demolition of any building was problematic during a climate and housing emergency.

“In the middle of both climate and housing emergencies we must focus on re-using our existing buildings, rather than allowing them to be demolished without local communities having any say on what buildings stay or go,” O’Donnell says. “We hope the government will take this opportunity to support our amendment if it is serious about meeting its own legally binding net zero target we need to end the constant cycle of demolition and rebuild as soon as possible.”

Even as that bill amendment is under discussion, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is working on the second edition of its influential Professional Standard, RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment.

The updated methodology, designed to be used by more than 130,000 RICS members worldwide, was first developed in 2017.

This updated version of the RICS standard, will provide a consistent approach to calculating whole-life carbon emissions within the built environment. This new edition is more ambitious as it extends to cover all built assets and infrastructure, throughout the whole built environment life cycle. It is not clear if any of demolition trade bodies have been invited to contribute to the consultation.

According to the RICS: “only by accurately measuring and recording carbon emissions can the industry work to meet net zero goals to confront this planet-wide challenge and developing and deploying this methodology, is crucial for supporting the built environment sector and the world in their aim to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050”.

If you would like to know more about the embodied carbon threat to the UK demolition industry, please check out our dedicated and ongoing podcast series here.