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What is PAS 2080? Insights from Chartered Environmentalists, for everyone.

From the words of three Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) registrants, this article explores two key questions – what is PAS 2080 (aka PAS 2080:2023)? And why is it so important for the environment, environmental professionals and businesses as a whole?

The authors:

Image credit: Pixabay.

What is PAS 2080?

As environmentalists, we pride ourselves on acting according to best practices and principles for mitigating environmental harm and enhancing the environment. As we confront the pressing challenges of climate change, effective and efficient carbon reduction strategies have become more crucial than ever.

The recently updated PAS 2080:2023 standard has emerged as a pivotal framework for environmental professionals and beyond. The revised standard provides a robust management platform for addressing the challenges of climate change and promoting sustainable practices in the built environment (buildings and infrastructure). Its significance in guiding our efforts towards a low-carbon future cannot be overstated. By implementing the standard, we demonstrate our commitment to mitigating environmental harm and enhancing the well-being of our planet.

For environmental professionals, PAS 2080 holds immense importance as it offers a practical and comprehensive approach that spans the entire life cycle of projects. From inception to decommissioning, this framework guides us in adopting sustainable practices at every stage. It emphasises the importance of early adoption and ensuring that carbon reduction is delivered and challenged.

By recognising the interconnectedness of various project phases, PAS 2080 challenges us to collaborate and maximise carbon reduction opportunities thus achieving sustainable solutions.

The revised standard also acknowledges the importance of a systems approach when setting out carbon management requirements. This means we should not only consider the asset and its life cycle but also how assets interact with wider networks and systems. It sets a new industry standard, inspiring us to think holistically, integrate sustainability seamlessly into our work, and empower everyone in the value chain to play a part in decarbonisation.

Relationships between value chain members across assets, networks and systems (Source: BSI)

As you embark on the PAS 2080 journey, several vital considerations deserve your attention.

  1. We must emphasise whole-life carbon management, understanding that our actions during construction are just the beginning. PAS 2080 prompts us to extend our focus to include considerations for operation, use, and end-of-life scenarios, enabling us to create lasting positive change in the built environment.
  2. Accurate measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification of carbon emissions are essential. PAS 2080 provides clear guidelines in this regard, ensuring that our assessments are reliable and informed. By utilising standardised methods, we can track progress, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions that drive meaningful carbon reduction. Furthermore, collaboration and knowledge sharing are crucial elements of successful PAS 2080 implementation. As environmental professionals, we must actively engage with stakeholders, fostering a culture of learning and innovation. By sharing experiences, insights, and best practices, we can collectively navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by this groundbreaking framework.
  3. We need to explore and embrace innovative solutions that align with PAS 2080 principles. This may involve considering procurement’s piece in the puzzle, exploring alternative designs, incorporating low-carbon materials, integrating renewable energy sources, promoting circular economy principles, and exploring other cutting-edge approaches or potentially not build anything at all!

PAS 2080 encourages us to think beyond traditional practices. It inspires us to pioneer sustainable solutions, think outside the box, and shape the future of the built environment.


Why is it important for environmental professionals?

While PAS 2080 is not new (first launched in 2016), the industry has yet to fully embrace and implement the standard. We are still greatly lagging behind achieving the carbon reductions required at the pace and scale needed, and that’s before considering the elevated requirements of the revised standard. All is not doomed, however, we cannot shy away from the fact that everyone needs to play their part to ensure we do make the necessary progress.

The standard is applicable to all. However, those with environmental expertise will be looked at to provide the guidance in how to approach this within each organisation.

The updated PAS 2080:2023 standard provides a clear roadmap for environmental professionals to guide organisations towards sustainable practices throughout project lifecycles. This is by embracing collaboration across the value chain and ensuring a lifecycle approach is at the heart of decision making (see image below).

With this powerful tool, we can identify innovative solutions, reduce embodied carbon, and enhance operational efficiency. By leveraging this powerful standard, we contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for generations to come. PAS 2080 is a valuable asset in our mission to make meaningful action to mitigate the climate and biodiversity emergency.

Value chain members in the built environment and their roles in carbon management (Source: BSI)

Carbon reduction is increasingly becoming a contractual obligation from clients including financial damages or incentives. As environmental professionals, our expertise will be increasingly relied on to drive and coordinate action within their teams that has a material effect on the bottom line of projects. Poor carbon management and failure to effectively capture change will lead directly to financial losses. PAS 2080 gives a framework for value chain members to understand their responsibility including how and when to act.


PAS 2080 and your career

As stated above, environmental professionals are vital for the success of PAS 2080 from project planning and implementation through to decommissioning. As a global standard, a comprehensive understanding will help futureproof your career and demonstrate your expertise and employability simultaneously. As adoption continues to build pace, demand for PAS 2080 competence will only grow.

Documents and further reading

More from the authors:

SocEnv Article | PAS 2080: How to get started All you need to know about the revised PAS 2080 ICE Tech Talks podcast: The transport sector’s journey to net zero SocEnv podcast: EnvCast with Lara Young CEnv

More useful links:

The PAS 2080 Standard in full | BSI Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE): PAS 2080:2023 guidance Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE): The hierarchy of net zero design

Statements on this blog reflect the views and opinions of the author(s) credited and they do not always represent the views or policies of SocEnv. The blogs shared on the SocEnv website are intended to be thought-provoking articles for informative and educational purposes only.