ISO 16745: First global standard for measuring carbon footprint of buildings

A new international standard created to simplify the measuring and reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing buildings will "bring a response to the expectations of all", according to industry experts.

The building and construction industry accounts for around one-third of global emissions

The building and construction industry accounts for around one-third of global emissions

The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) 16745 framework will provide a set of methods to calculate, report, communicate and verify carbon metrics for emissions arising from the measured energy use during the activity of an existing building. The simplicity of its approach means it is applicable at all scales, from cities and building portfolios to individual buildings.

Jacques Lair, chair of the ISO subcommittee that developed the standard, said: “At a time when global warming is becoming more and more evident, with its devastating effects on the entire planet, having a tool to measure the carbon footprint left by buildings is of utmost importance. ISO 16745 will bring a response to the expectations of all.”

Foundation for accurate baselines

The building and construction industry, which accounts for around one-third of global emissions, will need to play a crucial role in keeping the global temperature at sustainable levels. Research from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has suggested a “monumental and coordinated” effort from business and governments is required to ensure all existing buildings by 2050 operate at net-zero carbon.

Until now, there has been no globally agreed method to measure, report and verify potential reductions of emissions from existing buildings in a consistent and comparable way. ISO hopes that the 16745 standard will provide the foundation for accurate performance baselines of buildings to be drawn, national targets to be set and carbon trading to occur on a level playing field.

In May, ISO unveiled the 14080 framework which aims to help industry work with governments to achieve “credible, transparent and consistent” climate action through enhanced methodologies. The previous month saw the launch of the world's first international standard for sustainable procurement, which aims to increase supply chain transparency.

George Ogleby


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