NETTA challenges student and professionals to count whole life carbon

NETTA challenges student and professionals to count whole life carbon

BLOG · BY UNIVERSITY AND REGIONAL ENGAGEMENT MANAGER, TABITHA BINDING · 23 April

Part two of NETTA’s five part series challenges students to take on the climate challenge, as part of the Riverside Sunderland University Design Challenge. You can read part one of the series HERE.

Counting carbon is essential if we are to meet our legally binding climate commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050. Yet while operational carbon is relatively well understood, embodied carbon, the emissions from construction itself, is often missed – in designs, by specifiers, and in the classroom.

The North East Timber Trade Association (NETTA), in partnership with Sunderland City Council and MOBIE, via the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and Timber Research and Development Association’s (TRADA) University Engagement Programme, are seeking to change this.

Together they are challenging our current and future specifiers to design homes and communities that reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with construction and operation and account for Whole Life Carbon (WLC).

WLC encompasses production, construction, use, maintenance, deconstruction and disposal, and was the focus of week one of the webinar series that accompanied RSUDC21, with experts covering sustainable timber and offsite construction, the climate challenge, and counting carbon.

For timber, the carbon story must begin in the forest and carries through to the end of its life. Wood in construction is a form of carbon capture and storage, as trees grow, absorb carbon dioxide, then can be harvested and placed in buildings for upwards of 50 years.

To ensure this story holds true, responsible sourcing is at the heart of the timber industry and the products we source. Richard Gore, Education Lead at NETTA, explains that with the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) regions, specifiers have a guarantee via transparency and auditing.

“We and our members work to a defined standards of trade in wood products encompassed in the TTF’s Code of Conduct. We have regular audits to ensure adherence to these rules via the TTF’s Responsible Purchasing Policy System and as an industry we are constantly working to ensure there is minimal risk of any unlawful timber entering the supply chain.

“By making use of the information and resources that NETTA members and the wider TTF membership can provide, built environment professionals can ensure that the timber and timber products supplied are legal, sustainable and renewable.”

TRADA, PEFC, NETTA, Edinburgh Napier University and Offsite Ready supply information and resources on timber products, sustainability, chain of custody, modern methods of construction to both guide and aid students on how timber can be used to reduce emissions.

All of this information can be used to take on the targets set in the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge, the carbon reduction targets set by RIBA. These targets are designed to be progressive yet realistic, and cover energy use, embodied carbon, health, and water use reduction.

Mina Hasman, UKGBC Trustee, Associate Director, and Sustainability Lead at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, said RIBA 2030 can actually be achieved now, pointing to the Green Construction Board Buildings Mission 2030 report and supporting case studies.

Watch our webinar on Counting Carbon that was part of the Riverside University Design Competition 2021 webinar series.

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