Major contractors and suppliers have joined forces with a construction technology provider to develop automated, real-time embodied carbon reporting.
Scope 3 emissions are indirect carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from an organisation’s supply chain. In the case of construction, for example, this could include the embodied carbon from the production and transport of concrete, steel, and timber.
Why Scope 3 emissions matter
The accurate measurement of scope 3 emissions is increasingly seen as the biggest challenge to reducing the construction industry’s carbon footprint on the road to net zero.
In Australia, MECLA (the Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders Alliance) has committed to reducing scope 3 emissions by 12.% to 25% by 2030 with a 1MT/year reduction in scope 3 materials by 2030.
MECLA is funded by the NSW Government and the Government of South Australia. It is managed by WWF, Presync, and Climate-KIC Australia and has a dedicated Engineered Timber working group (5f).
The working group is chaired by Stephen Simpson, Project Design Management, Manager Officer, and Mixed Use at Mirvav, and Hamid Valipour, Professor at UNSW. It is focused on mapping pathways for further uptake of engineered timber in the construction industry.
According to Simpson, the mission for the group is “to finally break down the barriers to source, procure and secure built form with the product that most naturally aligns itself with the environment: timber, the preferred embodied carbon alternative.”
The project will do away with generic carbon calculators
Speaking at Digital Construction Week, Dr Adam O’Rourke, Causeway’s emerging technologies consultant, explained, “The construction industry has been grappling with the measurement of scope 3 emissions for some time with increasing pressure from regulators, investors and campaigners adding to the sense of urgency for a viable solution.
“But at present, few construction product suppliers find it easy to provide consistent transaction-level data on the full carbon emissions of their products, and so contractors are heavily reliant on using generic carbon calculators for estimating scope 3 emissions.
“These calculators are useful estimating tools, but Causeway’s scope 3 initiative is different – it provides contractors, for the first time, with an accurate, consistent, and automated reporting tool that reflects the actual materials and products used, not just what was planned.
“More accurate reporting means better choices and lower risk for contractors. It also means competitive advantages for suppliers supporting their customers to meet their carbon reporting obligations with an automated solution – no further effort is required. It really is ‘Scope 3 made easy’.”
How it will work
The Scope 3 initiative is on the brink of introducing a software solution that can efficiently and accurately measure Scope 3 emissions in real time. The solution utilizes invoice data, automatically pulled from Causeway Tradex, the UK’s most extensive interconnected construction supply chain community.
Invoices reflect the actual materials and services consumed in the construction process, enabling both buyers and sellers to gauge the effects of their net-zero strategies promptly.
Currently, Causeway Tradex processes 6.7 million invoices from a network of over 60,000 suppliers, accounting for billions in construction value. By employing Causeway Tradex, Scope 3 emissions can be tied to specific transactions and projects. Consequently, emissions are measured in real-time as construction progresses, facilitating prompt and effective sustainability action.
The software can address embodied carbon figures down to line items
In initial tests, Causeway was able to sample 25,000 invoices from Aggregate Industries, Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall and Galliford Try focusing on materials with the highest carbon impact. The system can address embodied carbon figures down to line-level items such as tools and plant purchases, with the range of materials and products growing as the project matures.
Causeway and its partners are currently engaging with more suppliers and contractors, as well as validating and testing elements of the software. The project is also being supported via a partnership engagement with the Engineering Department at the University of Bath.
Dr. Adam O’Rourke added, “One of the biggest innovations on this project has been bringing together major contractors’ finance departments and sustainability teams. The detail and accuracy of existing financial reporting provide the information needed for transparent benchmarking, tracking, and reporting on carbon emissions for ESG reporting. Still, we found that this connection had not been made in many businesses. The Scope 3 initiative bridges this gap.”