RICS Guidance to help consumers and businesses reduce carbon

From retrofitting homes and buildings to make them more energy inefficient to the measurement of carbon over the whole life cycle of construction projects, RICS and the Chartered Surveying profession are leading and enabling sustainable change in the built environment.

Buildings contribute approximately 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, with almost half of this coming from energy use in buildings and the development of critical infrastructure (UKGBC).

In order to meet Scotland’s ambitious net zero targets, it is crucial that the built environment decarbonises. And its significant carbon impact means that there are various opportunities for the sector to make a tangible, and sizable, difference.

Our suite of guidance and sustainable initiatives outlined below has been published in the run-up to COP26 to enable consumers and businesses alike to make more sustainable decisions and, ultimately, a tangible difference to measures impacting climate change.

Helping homeowners to reduce carbon in their homes

Our Guide to Reducing Carbon in Your home provides guidance to homeowners on retrofitting to make their home low carbon, and signposts to other key sources of advice and financial assistance for making these changes.

While individual consumers have a role to play, this must be part of more wholesale legislative and policy change. It is for this reason that we continue to call for a reduction in VAT for Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) activity (see here), and are working alongside the Scottish Government and other bodies to ensure the right regulations are in place to enable a transition to a net zero economy.

Ensuring industry can accurately assess embodied and operational carbon to action positive change

For industry practitioners, we provide a Building Carbon Database and Whole Life Carbon Assessment to identify where associated carbon emission reductions can be made, during all stages of a building’s life cycle.

Two new international standards will also be launched over the coming months that will lead to a step change in the measurement of carbon in the built environment.

  • International Cost Measurement Standard 3 (ICMS3) will enable the UK’s transition to net zero through the provision of standardised carbon accounting for construction and infrastructure projects. This will enable clients and public/private investors to quantify and take appropriate action to reduce the carbon footprint of their built assets. The consultation on ICMS3 runs until 10 September.
  • International Building Operations Standard (IBOS) will benchmark the optimisation of public and commercial real estate performance across a range of factors including operational energy use and waste to allow investors, owners, occupiers and building managers to measure and action the transition to net zero as well as improving the experience of those using buildings in our towns and cities.

Through our work with the industry, individuals, and policy makers, in Scotland, the UK and globally, RICS is committed to ensuring a sustainable future for the built environment.


Euan Ryan, Senior Public Affairs Officer for Scotland, RICS