PAS 2080: The Implications for Design

Author: Dan Rennison, Head of Design Management

Earlier this month the Construction Leadership Council’s Green Construction Board (GCB) launched a new standard to encourage a consistent approach to the management of carbon by everyone involved in infrastructure. The standard, known as PAS (Publicly Available Specification) 2080, is the world’s first specification for managing whole life carbon in infrastructure. It sets out the principles and components of a carbon management system, as well as requirements for the whole value chain. 

The publication of the new standard signals the construction industry’s – and government’s – intention to further address the issue of carbon in infrastructure. As a result, our customers will soon start asking for PAS 2080-compliant projects.

In the past, the traditional perception was that carbon and climate change were issues for environmental experts to deal with. We now believe that carbon is an issue for every discipline and every person within the design, procurement and delivery process – and it offers particular opportunities for the design management community.

A key element of PAS 2080 is measurement: accurately measuring the whole life carbon at every stage from initial design through to delivery. So, going forward it is likely that we will be asked for a whole life carbon baseline for major projects as part of the bid process. That will enable us to understand where the carbon “hot spots” are, and work with our supply partners to drive through carbon reductions as we go through each design gate.

Major customer organisations have demonstrated that if you carry out your option appraisal and design reviews by focusing on carbon, you are likely to achieve higher cost savings than if you simply look for ways to reduce costs. So we have developed a sustainability supply chain tool that allows us to integrate carbon into the option appraisal process. In future, option appraisal will not just be about trying to reduce time or cost; it will be viewed through a carbon lens as well.

The best way to quantify and manage carbon is to integrate it with existing processes. So the sustainability supply chain tool enables users to look at different material types being used at any of our project locations and see which materials or activities are giving us the highest carbon. We can then work with designers and suppliers to tackle the hot spots that have the biggest impact. 

Because the tool is linked to the bill of quantities, you can see exactly what the carbon impact is of changing something in the design- which makes it a really valuable tool for challenging designers and engineers to drive carbon out. 

The tool was developed to be interactive and easy to use. Instead of having to look at a huge spreadsheet to work out the impact of changing from one material to another, you simply toggle between different areas and materials. That means you don’t have to be an expert in carbon and climate change – which is vital if carbon reduction is going to be fully integrated into the design process.

In our company sustainability strategy, we have targets linked to quantifying embodied carbon for all our designs and achieving reductions against those baselines. So we will be incorporating these processes into our design management even when customers do not ask for PAS 2080-compliant solutions.

To discuss PAS 2080 and the implications for design in your organisation, please get in touch dan.rennison@costain.com