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Sustainability Team

Sweco UK


2023 saw the launch of the second edition of PAS 2080 – Carbon Management in Buildings and Infrastructure. The first edition came out in 2016 and developed a carbon management process aligned to the principal ‘reduce carbon, reduce cost’, following findings from the Infrastructure Carbon Review in 2013.

Sweco UK has a proud history embedding carbon management within projects, twice winning New Civil Engineer’s Low Carbon Leader Award. A large part of this recognition was demonstrating how Sweco UK had successfully embedded PAS 2080 on projects.


Read Helene’s take on PAS 2080

PAS 2080 has been an accelerator for carbon management in the sector, but seven years after its arrival there is an even greater need to minimise emissions on what we design and build as we strive towards our national net zero targets. This revision to PAS 2080 provides guidance and support on how we tackle carbon emissions in the built environment as we stive towards net zero.

There are some key changes to this edition which are briefly summarised below:

  1. Expanded Scope: The 2016 edition was solely focused on Infrastructure, whilst the new guidance includes Buildings to ensure there is a consistent carbon management process across the built environment.
  2. Control and Influence: There is greater clarity on the emissions that value chain members have the ability to control and influence. Rather than just seeking to minimise emissions you can directly control, consideration should be given to the wider benefits that could be achieved from what you can potentially influence.
  3. Whole Life Carbon: There is a greater emphasis on whole life carbon – the sum of all carbon emissions through a project’s lifetime, from construction, maintenance, use and end-of-life. Taking a whole life perspective will reduce the risk of burden shifting where mitigation in construction may accidently increase emissions elsewhere. This will ensure the most efficient solution over the asset’s lifetime will be taken forward.
  4. Other demands and co-benefits: Consideration is given to other demands and co-benefits that may come when considering Carbon. Although Carbon is the primary focus, it is important to consider other areas (e.g. climate resilience or biodiversity net gain) to ensure that the most advantageous solution is taken forward.
  5. Leadership and collaboration: Whilst these were key elements of the original edition, there is strong emphasis on leadership and collaboration. This will be key to ensure that carbon reduction targets are set early in the project and communicated with the value chain to ensure that carbon reduction achieved at all project stages.
  6. Procurement: There is a new section on the importance of procurement for ensuring that carbon reduction becomes contractual. This will ensure that between lifecycle stages the value chain are challenged to keep driving down carbon. Procurement can also be a useful mechanism where ‘reduce carbon, reduce cost’ may not hold true, to ensure that the most cost effective solutions to minimise carbon are taken forward.

With regards to procurement, Sweco UK has a featured case study within the new PAS 2080 Guidance Document where we demonstrate how procurement was a powerful tool to drive carbon reduction on the Cross Tay Link Road (CTLR) project. Sweco UK was able to demonstrate our ability to reduce carbon in design, then how we supported Perth and Kinross Council in embedding Carbon within procurement to challenge the supply chain to mitigate carbon further. This has led to another recognition with Sweco UK recently being named Carbon Champions by the Institute of Civil Engineers for our work on this project.

An interview with Helene Piellard: PAS 2080 as the route to net zero

Sweco UK has now formally achieved PAS 2080 accreditation. This will involve ensuring there is a consistent process to managing carbon across all our building and infrastructure projects, where we can demonstrate we are quantifying emissions, setting targets and reporting progress to minimise emissions. We sat down with Helene Piellard, Carbon Consultant in our Energy, Water and Environment division, to explore the importance of PAS 2080 in achieving net zero goals.

What exactly is PAS 2080:2023?

“PAS 2080 is a specification for carbon management, aimed at the built environment for both buildings and infrastructure projects. It’s a framework to drive projects through a net zero carbon transition across the whole value chain. Sweco UK is certified in the capacity of Designer, meaning that we have specific responsibilities assigned to a designer’s role, but we also have a role to play within the deeper value chain.”

Can you tell us a little bit about why PAS 2080 is so important, and what it’s got to do with net zero?

“I won’t expand on the climate crisis too much as I believe that we’re all very well-versed on that issue already and we all grasp the urgency of it.

But as  a result of the crisis, we need to make sure that we are doing the most we can in our projects in terms of carbon. Embedding PAS 2080 helps us ensure that our projects are aligned with the UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy and remain at drive systemic changes at our level. It will in turn also ensure that these projects or assets will be aligned with local or national measure targets, which themselves are driven by the Paris Agreement.

Ultimately, PAS 2080 aims to drive assets, networks, and systems to a net zero target by giving actors throughout the value chain the fundamentals needed to deliver a systemic net zero carbon management process. It;s vital that we all understand that acting at an asset level will ultimately be reflected at systems level, which is needed to achieve net zero targets.

Another important side of PAS 2080 is that it also pushes to us to consider impacts beyond the project scope and beyond carbon alone. It can include a circular economy and land use change and wider sustainability impact which are in all line with a fully sustainable approach to project work.”

Can you tell us a little bit about why Sweco chose to become PAS 2080 certified?

“The Decarbonisation Team started to embed carbon management in projects very early. Working towards the PAS 2080 has demonstrated to provide the framework needed to structure and standardise our processes for Whole Life Carbon management and reduction. Embedding carbon into the decision-making process throughout all project stages is now the core of our work and a key parameter to ensure a successful net zero transition.

It’s evident that carbon is becoming a concern for a majority of our clients as well as partners, and being able to formally deliver a project in line with net zero is an advantage in delivering high quality projects. Some clients are also now requesting their partners to be PAS 2080 certified and seek advice from our team in terms of shaping their strategies. That is likely to become more and more common amongst our clients and partners.”

What did the certification process involve?

“Sweco UK achieved certification to PAS 2080:2023 – Carbon Management in Buildings and Infrastructure in the capacity of Designers in October 2023. We were audited by the British Standard Institute (BSI) to demonstrate our ability to deliver PAS 2080 aligned projects and were successful.

Being PAS 2080 certified means that structural changes have to be implemented into our business as well as in projects, and this has shown to drive ambition further and boost collaboration between many disciplines within Sweco”.

Are there any examples of how Sweco has already helped clients to integrate PAS 2080?

“Absolutely. We’ve worked with, and are still working with National Highways on several A47 schemes where PAS 2080 has been central in the carbon reduction and management process.

It’s in line with National Highways’ recently published Natural Plan, which itself is in line with the 2050 carbon targets of the UK Government.

Our Decarbonisation team has worked with BAM on Cross Tay Link Road which as been featured in the Guidance Document of the latest edition of PAS 2080. A contractual carbon reduction target of 30% was integrated to the tendering process. I would invite everyone to read this case study as this is a great example of ambitious and successful carbon reduction.

We are also supporting Ayrshire Road Alliance on Active Travel Schemes to reduce carbon from early stage of the design and embed the PAS 2080 framework into the decision-making process.”

Can you highlight some of the challenges that clients might face in buildings and infrastructure projects?

“In my experience, sustainable procurement is a key challenge for us as it is for clients. We need a model shift of the market and to challenge stakeholders to develop and implement low-carbon materials that are cost effective, reliable, and in compliance with building standards and regulations.

We have seen embodied carbon to be responsible of a non-negligible impact in projects, and once the first steps of the PAS 2080’s carbon reduction hierarchy are applied, we need to look at innovative carbon materials to reduce carbon further.”


How can designers support asset owners to embed decarbonisation principles and requirements into procurement?

Perth and Kinross Council and Sweco UK – Cross Tay Link Road

The Cross Tay Link Road in Scotland will link the A9 over the River Tay to the A93 and A94 north of Scone. This will alleviate traffic congestion in the city centre and Bridgend, creating capacity in the city’s road network that will enable a shift to greener modes of travel, and facilitate economic development in Perth and the surrounding area.

From concept to specimen design through to tendering, Perth and Kinross Council (asset owner) and Sweco (designer) have collaborated to minimise the environmental impact of the scheme and maximise decarbonisation. In 2019, Perth and Kinross Council prepared a procurement strategy for the contract, developed from previous lessons learnt, early market engagement and advice from NEC specialists. This initial strategy was supported and enhanced through collaboration in the value chain, with Sweco supporting the development of the tender documents and including carbon in the weighted evaluation criteria.

Tendering companies had to provide proposals to demonstrate a minimum saving of 30% against the specimen design. The successful contractor’s tendered carbon baseline replaced the client’s original on the award of the contract. The contractor’s baseline and reduction proposals had to follow a predefined carbon-quantification methodology and industry-standard carbon coefficients set out in the invitation to tender.

The contract for the project began in August 2021 and detailed design is under way. In the awarded contract, the proposed savings, which exceeded 30%, have become a contractual KPI with measures in place to ensure emissions are reported and minimised. Failure to meet these targets will result in a penalty.