Sustainability solutions: Navigating PAS 2080 in buildings and infrastructure
*Note: This blog uses URL links from NQA UK's Sustainability Hub throughout. If your business is based elsewhere in the world, please get in touch with NQA in your country to learn more about sustainability.
An introduction to PAS 2080
With approximately 40% of the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the built environment, it’s no surprise that organisations in this sector are experiencing increasing pressures to act on their carbon footprint and improve overall environmental performance.
The Publicly Available Specification (PAS) was developed and released in 2016 by the British Standards Institute (BSI) through a team of experts in this field.
PAS 2080 (Carbon Management in Infrastructure) provides requirements with guidance to manage and reduce the entire carbon emissions associated with infrastructure projects, programmes, and the built environment.
A focus is emphasised throughout the specification on the whole-life carbon emissions and encourages collaboration amongst the supply chain.
The 2023 update to PAS 2080
In 2023, PAS 2080 was revised to the current version of the standard. The revision has been pivotal in building an increased momentum behind organisations implementing the standard.
Through an expanded scope to include buildings and infrastructure, an increased focus on whole-life carbon, and alignment to the 1.5-degree climate change scenario, the revision has made significant advancements to the specification.
Considering the entire value chain, the standard is intended to be adopted by:
Architects and designers
Product and material suppliers
Regulators and financers
Asset owners and managers
A growing number of organisations are now expecting their supply chain to meet the requirements of PAS 2080 to bid for and win contracts.
An example of this is National Highways, who themselves are certified to the standard and expect their supply chain to meet this standard by the end of 2025. We can expect to see this continue to be filtered down through the industry, making this not only an environmentally responsible decision but a business and commercial critical one.
Organisations can benefit from improved performance, associated cost-savings and reduced carbon emissions through greater transparency and accountability. The standardised approach throughout the sector provides consistency within the supply chain and recognition for business efforts.
A breakdown of the PAS 2080 clauses
PAS 2080 is broken down into 12 clauses, along with additional introductory sections and annexes.
The initial clauses within PAS 2080 include laying out the scope, normative references, and a breakdown of key terms and definitions used throughout the specification. It’s important to familiarise yourself with these to ensure that the consecutive clauses are appropriately implemented.
The main body of the standard runs through different stages of carbon management with dedicated requirements for different value chain members, as well as the entire value chain, at each clause.
PAS 2080 considers a project or programme from being a ‘concept’ through to ‘end-of-life’, supporting its focus on whole-life carbon. The standard also requires users to address areas of control and influence, all while maintaining the carbon hierarchy – avoid, switch, improve.
See below for a breakdown of the clauses within PAS 2080:
Terms and definitions
Integrating carbon management into decision-making
Whole-life carbon assessment principles to support decision-making
Target setting and baselines
Monitoring and reporting
Claims of conformity / Annexes A, B and C
Steps to PAS 2080 implementation
If you’re unsure how to begin your carbon management journey, consider taking the following steps to implement and achieve PAS 2080 conformity.
Firstly, it’s vital to download the free PAS 2080:2023 standard and read through its requirements, including the guidance.
Familiarising yourself with its content and understanding the actions needed will best prepare you for the following steps.
Next, you will need to establish a plan for implementing the standard.
Having the necessary roles and responsibilities defined, and actions communicated will help to move your business forward.
At this stage, you may have a PAS 2080 internal project team and consider training, for example.
Throughout the standard, there are a number of requirements instructing you to ‘document’ or ‘report’ on your implementation and progress.
It’s a good idea to create a document tracking system to manage the different components.
The standard details three types of conformity:
Independent third-party certification
NQA provides independent third-party certification; this is the most robust and credible conformity route your business can opt for.
What do NQA assessors say about PAS 2080?
NQA Carbon & Sustainability Services Director and GHG Verifier Stephen Burt comments:
“The recent revision of PAS 2080 has significantly strengthened the standard’s ability to progress those companies adopting it to the ultimate goal of decarbonisation in the building and infrastructure sector.
The very strong focus on collaboration throughout the value chain is one of the most impressive features of PAS 2080, requiring the whole-life cycle carbon of projects to be managed from start to finish.
This is the key strength PAS 2080 has, and by seeking independent third-party certification to the standard through a partnership with NQA, you are organising and demonstrating your decarbonisation commitments in the most credible way to your customers.”
Next steps to achieve PAS 2080
In an ever-changing environment, resources are constantly being developed to support your understanding of carbon management with PAS 2080.
Your organisation can take several actions to kick-start the PAS 2080 journey. Whether this is initiating conversations with your supply chain to learn about what other value chain members are doing or setting up a project team internally to brainstorm an action plan.
There are a range of associated standards and frameworks to support the implementation of PAS 2080, such as ISO 14064-1 (Greenhouse Gas Inventory) and ISO 14068-1 (Greenhouse Gas Management and Related Activities – Carbon Neutrality). Gaining a deeper knowledge of these standards will not only help with applying PAS 2080 but also tie back into continuous improvement.
At NQA, we pride ourselves upon sharing a wealth of knowledge and expertise through our established carbon and construction auditors and back-office teams.
Here are some of the ways you can keep up to date with all things PAS 2080 through NQA:
Sign up to NQA’s mailing list for the latest sustainability updates, training and more.
Register for our webinars, focusing on topics and standards in sustainability and beyond.
Visit the NQA UK Sustainability Hub, our designated place for all things environmental.
Pre-register for our PAS 2080 E-Learning to turn your carbon interest into knowledge.