How Construction Journal covered the key topics of 2023: part two

Sustainability remains a key concern for the industry, and the second of Construction Journal's reflections on 2023 rounds up articles on ESG, skills for net zero and whole-life carbon assessment


  • Brian Ward

27 December 2023

Overhead photo of green roof

One of RICS' four strategic themes for 2024 is to take a lead on sustainability. In preparation for this, the institution secured an observer role at the recent COP28 summit in Dubai – indicating our influence in the fields of the built and natural environments, and sustainability in general.

But sustainability is already a priority for RICS, and Construction Journal regularly publishes on the subject. Among the highlights of our 2023 coverage were three articles on key aspects of sustainability in construction.

Experts advise how to improve ESG credentials

In March, the journal asked three sustainability experts how they have integrated environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals into their everyday operations. James Low of Mace spoke of the importance of upskilling employees – a point with which every contributor agreed.

It is also important to take responsibility not just for the impact of your own business's actions but also those in your supply chain, as Emma Schaafsma of legal firm CMS explained.

She suggested that trading with subcontractors that have aligned their key performance indicators with yours will have a greater positive effect overall.

Federico Montella of property consultancy LSH added that independent assessment and certification can be a useful means for a business to demonstrate its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

Certification involves accountability to an external organisation that will monitor your actions and ensure you meet your promises.

'ESG can be seen as representing the opportunities businesses have to enhance the world around us'

Construction Awards

The RICS UK Awards are free to enter, and recognise outstanding achievement, teamwork, and companies in Construction.

As part of our ongoing commitment to raise the profile of industry professionals and teams, the Awards aim to demonstrate the positive impact that the built environment has on individuals and communities, while also promoting the role that the profession has in making projects a reality.

Special category awards

  • Environmental Impact award category recognises projects where innovation, design or construction techniques have been utilised to address environmental challenges and improve sustainability.
  • Infrastructure award category celebrates the delivery of exceptional infrastructure projects. This will include basic structures, systems, and services required for operation.

Enter now

Career transition supports net-zero agenda

The transition to a net-zero-carbon economy will necessitate the creation of new career paths specialising in sustainability as well.

In April, Construction Journal spoke to Faithful+Gould – now AtkinsRéalis – regional director Peter Dunn MRICS about his personal development from quantity surveying to sustainability consultancy.

Like many students, Dunn's career trajectory was not set in stone when he started his degree. But a master's in construction management and quantity surveying at the University of Reading gave him the foundations needed to get started in the industry.

He noted that quantity surveyors are already well placed to specialise in sustainability because cost calculation and other traditional quantity surveying skills are easily transferred to carbon calculation and management.

'As a director, I try to look at what the client wants and how we get there quickly, spending less time on things that aren't generating value'

Updated standard supports carbon assessment

Finally, as part of RICS' ongoing commitment to sustainability, a second edition of the Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment (WLCA) professional standard was published in September.

The new edition expands the document's scope to include infrastructure and all built assets. At the launch event, RICS director of surveying practice Charlotte Neal spoke about the institution's obligation to act in the public interest.

Creating and updating standards that can help decarbonise the built environment is an important example of that duty, she said.

The inclusion of infrastructure significantly widens the relevance of the standard, as does alignment with the International Cost Management Standard (ICMS), as well as the Built Environment Carbon Database in the UK.

WLCA is important both to counteract greenwashing and to foster investor confidence in the calculation of carbon emissions throughout the life cycle of new and planned buildings.

The second edition of Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment is effective from 1 July.

Read the full feature

'The second edition sets a consistent approach for accurate whole-life carbon assessment, benchmarking and early-stage advice'

In the new year, you can expect to see more Construction Journal articles on the critical subject of sustainability.

Brian Ward is the editor of Construction Journal

Contact Brian: Email 

Related Articles


go to article How to achieve Legal/regulatory compliance competency


go to article RICS publishes guidance for valuers operating in the US


go to article Fresh case stresses care needed with letters of intent