Economic and social impact Campaign

Carbon Action 2050

The Carbon Action 2050 toolkit is an action plan of simple, practical steps that can be taken by the Institute, its members and the wider construction industry to reduce carbon emissions from the built environment. Now. Anywhere in the world.

Last updated: 29th March 2013

Introduction To Carbon Action 2050

Alan Crane CBE, CIOB Vice President introduces the Carbon Action 2050 campaign.


To secure this planet, if you like, it's as broad as that, but it's about things we can do and it's things which we can do in the various roles that we perform in our industry.

Well, buildings, first of all, make up somewhere around 40 percent of the carbon emissions globally, that's both refurbishment, maintenance of existing buildings and existing buildings are important aspect because and the statistics vary. But somewhere around 80 percent of the buildings that we will have in 2050, we already have. So repairs, maintenance, improvement, retrofit, very important area and new construction, of course, and the transport aspects that go with all of that moving materials around, moving equipment around, moving people around, and also the things we do within those buildings, our occupations, buildings, all have a function, all have a purpose. They're not just there to satisfy our aspirations for glory and so forth. They're functioning things, infrastructure and so forth.

Carbon Action 2050, you come here to our website, first click is on what your role is, what your role in the industry, second click will tell you and list for you the things from the 50 action points that you can actually do in your job immediately and make a difference.

Your Action Plan

The CIOB and its members have developed this action plan to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment, by making an immediate difference on the ground now.


Although construction processes represent a minor portion of the whole lifecycle of a building's carbon emissions, they are still responsible for the production of staggering quantities of carbon and command radical action to reduce them.

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If designers are to continue to have relevance to our industry, there requires an open understanding that designs which cut carbon emissions and increase energy and resource efficiency will be an utmost priority. 

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Data collection is the central plank to leadership; what you cannot measure you cannot manage, and what you cannot manage you cannot change. We need to embed changed behaviours, using common metrics to evidence leadership and improvement.

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Operations and Maintenance

The variables involved with operating and maintaining buildings are vast, including everyday use, designated uses of different space, the complexity of plant and equipment installed and, of course, the behaviour of the end user.

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Retrofit and Refurbishment

Retrofitting and re-using buildings is paramount to reducing carbon in the built environment. It maximises the use of an asset's embodied cabon, while rendering it as energy-efficient as possible. 

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Skills and Education

Our own research indicated that there are knowledge gaps at student level of low carbon construction methods. Educating both the current and future workforce will be vital to meeting carbon targets and creating jobs. 

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On the surface, construction waste and carbon may seem unconnected. But whatever we manufacture and ultimately dispose of is part of a wider scenario involving embodied energy and carbon. So it is fundamentally important that we continue to effectively manage and reduce construction waste.

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