Jul 27, 2023

A CO2 IT system for construction companies – our thoughts

We’ve had some queries lately from construction companies looking to report their scope 1,2 and 3 CO2 emissions. Specifically, they have been after an “off the shelf system” that they could simply plug data in to as an when they have it and then the system would churn out the relevant emissions.

We know of systems that will do scope 1 and 2 emissions but the same system that incorporates scope 3 – specifically embodied carbon of materials used – remains elusive as far as we know. Our thoughts are that if a such a system were to be developed it would have characteristics something like these:

  • Take in primary data from client – in the same granularity that you know/collect it – office fuel bills, site fuel bills, embodied carbon from waste, water and materials, EPC ratings of completed buildings etc.
  • Use that data to report CO2 for scopes 1, 2 & 3 for site level and/or organisational level
  • Report for entire site CO2 from start to finish even if the project spans several years
  • Report organisationally on an annual basis for compliance reasons
  • Be useful for compliance reporting – SECR, ESOS, PPN06/21, BREEAM etc.
  • Be extendable to other environmental issues (responsible materials, flood risk, biodiversity etc.)
  • Highly useful for ESG reporting so you can raise favourable investment
  • Be updateable so that all new methodologies for CO2 evaluation are incorporated as and when they occur – and there are lots!!

In our view CO2 accounting is slowly becoming like financial accounting – organisations see the value in paying accountants to do accounting work, because they do it day in, day out and can do it efficiently and keep up to date with changes. So maybe the same approach should be done with CO2 accounting, in other words use a suitably qualified environmentalist who does this day in, day out.

So here are some options for construction companies:

  • Do this with us (we are Chartered Environmentalists) as a one off project – this allows us to see the nature of the primary data and you get your baselines in the format(s) you need
  • We can then help specify and direct your own IT team to design data collection systems that integrate with your existing systems
  • Once your IT people have done that we could validate it and then you can use it
  • You could integrate the various other options/systems around into a bespoke system for you – likely to involve a lot of licensing costs though
  • We could design, implement and validate a suitable system bespoke for you – this will be akin to the SHIFT system you have seen
  • If you could bring ~20 other firms to us this would significantly reduce costs for you – perhaps Constructing Excellence could lead on this?
  • Due to the nature of changing methodologies, we are seeing that the market is heading towards clients efficiently collecting primary data, then handing that over to environmentalists to report as per whatever compliance scheme is needed – we keep up to date with all the new methodologies. If an IT system was in place, this too would need to be kept up to date incurring quite a bit of cost each time. It seems this is the way that financial accounting is going:  the client supplies primary data (receipts, invoices etc.) via Xero software, but the accountant still does a lot of manual work in the background to produce the accounts.

Hopefully that gives food for thought and if there any construction companies out there who want to investigate this further, please be in touch.


Image by Scott Blake on Unsplash


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