CIBSE President to focus on embodied carbon and resilience at COP28

Adrian Catchpole will also highlight the importance of climate resilience at the global event

Adrian Catchpole FCIBSE will call for a step change in the way carbon emissions are calculated in buildings

Climate resilience and embodied carbon are the two key themes to which CIBSE President Adrian Catchpole will draw attention in his presentation at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28. 

COP28 takes place in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 30 November to 12 December, when 70,000 delegates will come together to assess the progress being made towards the landmark Paris Agreement, which pledged to keep the global average temperature rise to ‘well below’ 2°C.

Catchpole will talk about the climate resilience of buildings and say that the building services industry, while continuing to decarbonise building stock, must also assess the risk of climate change to buildings and put in place adaption plans to protect the built environment.

His speech will call for a step change in the way carbon emissions are calculated in buildings and state that there now needs to be as much focus on embodied carbon as operational.

CIBSE’s work on the TM65 embodied energy calculation methodology for building services will be highlighted, and Catchpole will explain its growing significance around the world as new versions are created for different regions. 

Local TM65 addenda are imminent for America and the UAE, and the latter will be launched by the UAE CIBSE Region as part of COP28 (see story below). A new Hong Kong addendum is expected in 2024, while the Australia and New Zealand version was published in late 2022.

TM65 is the first step to promoting transparency in the supply chain, and Catchpole will advocate strongly for the methodology to enable engineers to produce comparable carbon metrics using a consistent set of rules. 

What TM65 will mean for the UAE

Isaac Coker, chair of the CIBSE UAE Technical Committee, explains how a new addendum to TM65 will work

Development of the TM65 local addendum for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (United Arab Emirates chapter) is being undertaken by authors Dr Francisco Sierra, of the University of the West of England (UWE), Balsam Nehme, of Dar Al-Handasah, and Ahmed Hagras, of UWE. 

In the UAE, buildings consume 70% of the energy produced in the country, leading to substantial carbon emissions. Until now, the focus has been on reducing operational carbon. As a result, there is a lack of embodied carbon calculations for construction products in the UAE and the MENA region. This lack of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) is even more pronounced for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) products. 

CIBSE TM65 is used to estimate the embodied carbon for building services equipment where an EPD is not available. So, the addendum will be a crucial resource for manufacturers in the UAE to understand and reduce the embodied carbon in their products. The working group has established a comprehensive inventory of carbon coefficients specific to the UAE, providing accurate and relevant data to the UAE context. 

This is the first comprehensive local inventory of its kind, and is a significant contribution to the calculation of embodied carbon and to the creation of embodied carbon data points for MEP products, such as boilers, chillers, mechanical ventilation systems, and air conditioning units. 

This inventory should also serve as a valuable resource for conducting embodied carbon assessments for other types of products and life-cycle analysis for construction projects.

TM65 is also aimed at raising awareness in the UAE about the need to reduce operational emissions, and transform the construction industry into a more sustainable sector. It wants to be an important component of the UAE’s efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions.