PAS 2080 externallink is the first publicly available specification in the world that specifically addresses managing carbon in infrastructure.

The specification was put out for peer review and comment in November and December 2015. As a result of that process, it was determined that the document would require a substantial overhaul to both structure and approach. In March, BSI made the Version 2 draft document available for review for a two week period, with a final draft submitted to the Steering Group for publication approval later that month. The document was finally published in May 2016.

The birth of a carbon management PAS

Creating a carbon management specification was one of the recommendations made in a Mott McDonald/ Arup report entitled 2013 Infrastructure Carbon Review (ICR) externallink, which was commissioned by HM Treasury, Department for Business Information and Skills, and the Green Construction Board externallink. The resulting PAS 2080 was sponsored by the Green Construction Board and developed in a collaborative effort by experts representing Mott McDonald, Arup and the British
Standards Institution.

Carbon reduction and infrastructure

For years, the primary focus of most carbon reduction and management strategies has been on buildings, specifically carbon-fuelled heating and lighting. However, the ICR drew attention to the fact that infrastructure (water (including flood control), energy, transport, communications, and waste) is actually responsible for over 50% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and therefore, addressing carbon in infrastructure is imperative if we are to meet carbon reduction targets and mandates.

In addition to recommending the creation of a carbon management PAS, the ICR also made several other recommendations that addressed the following key areas:

  • Leadership – vision, values, policy
  • Communications and culture – behaviour, skills, communication
  • Metrics and governance – baselines, targets, tools, visibility, governance
  • Innovation and standards
  • Commercial solutions – procurement, reward, integration1

The ICR breaks each of these areas down, providing recommendations for individual businesses as well as the industry sector as a whole.

Carbon management from design to decommissioning

According to the Green Construction Board, by adopting “cradle to grave” carbon reduction strategies similar to those already in place in leading industry sectors, the UK infrastructure industry could cut carbon costs, benefiting our economy by as much as £1.5 billion per year.2

Because carbon management in infrastructure is a relatively new focus, high level management will need to be rapidly developed, bringing in the whole of the supply chain in order to collaboratively create and apply solutions.3 To best facilitate this rapid development, the industry needs to share a common foundation and language. A publicly accessibly specification is the perfect vessel for meeting that need. Thus, PAS 2080 was born.

What is PAS 2080's purpose?

According to key contributor Mott MacDonald, PAS 2080:
  • Provides governance and leadership
  • Quantifies greenhouse gas emissions
  • Integrates emissions management into infrastructure delivery processes
  • Provides targets, baselines, and monitoring methods
  • Assists with reporting and managing information
  • Spreads responsibility across the asset value chain (designers, constructors, suppliers,
  • Encourages continuing improvement 4
The primary benefits of adopting PAS 2080 include:
  • Uniformity and transparency of carbon data across the supply chain
  • Clarity via a unifying definition of what constitutes good carbon management
  • Setting a goalpost that rewards UK industry and international customers who demonstrate their ability to reduce costs via cutting carbon (aka being “PAS 2080 ready”)
  • Creating an affirmative international message that heightens our attractiveness when bidding
    for overseas work
Cutting carbon is synonymous with cutting costs. Reducing the carbon footprint of an infrastructure project brings material, energy and labour efficiencies that reduce capital and operational costs, bringing savings from design to decommissioning

Maria Manidaki, project leader and technical team member for PAS 2080

Carbon, climate change, and the economy

At its most fundamental level, carbon is the intermediary that has historically been relied upon for energy and materials. Putting aside the negative environmental implications that surround a carbon-based lifestyle, our continued reliance on carbon is having a significant economic impact.

As resources have dwindled and global competition has resulted in excessive control and restriction of those resources, carbon related costs have risen exponentially.

A 2015 report entitled Climate Change and Business Survival (.pdf, 2.68 Mb) download addressed the business implications of climate change. In that report, authored by Mott MacDonald and Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute, it was projected that, within the next 20 years, $200 billion USD will need to be invested globally per year to combat the $1 trillion’s worth of loss resulting from changes in the climate.5 It also addressed several, related business imperatives for those wanting to survive and thrive through the global cultural shift:

  • Understanding the risk and taking affirmative action
  • Recognising the importance of investing in resilience
  • Collaborating with others across sectors
  • Integrating climate impact thinking into planning and risk management strategies, as well as policies and regulations
  • Leading by example re: cultural change
As we move into an era of increasing climate volatility, public and private sectors must seek out new ways to share risk and unlock investment to make assets – and the businesses and societies they support – more resilient.

Keith Howells, chairman Mott MacDonald, from the 2015 report
Climate Change and Business Survival

Given the serious, negative economic implications surrounding our continued reliance upon carbon, the way forward for our industry must be paved with innovative, low-carbon solutions. Those companies who pioneer and adopt those solutions early on will have the greatest market advantage – both here at home and globally.

By putting into place a unified carbon management system, the UK infrastructure industry will be able to more efficiently reduce their carbon footprint, resulting in more efficient use of material, energy and labour. This, in turn, will reduce capital and operational costs, which will translate to an infrastructure project’s whole life (design to demolition) savings.

Building on lessons learnt

One advantage that the infrastructure sector has over those who have championed carbon reduction in buildings, both domestic and non-domestic, is that they are able to take the lessons previously learnt and create a plan that better addresses carbon reduction across a project’s lifecycle. We don’t have to start from scratch; proven solutions and case studies are readily available from which to draw information. PAS 2080 and its supporting documentation can help tailor that information to individual businesses and infrastructure projects.

What PAS 2080 is and isn’t

PAS 2080:

  • Is not a standard for quantifying carbon
  • Is a specification that provides a unifying framework for managing carbon
  • Is not regulatory. PAS 2080 provides guidance that allows industry professionals to develop and adopt best practices according to business, asset and position within that asset’s lifecycle
  • Is complementary. The specification is designed to work with PAS 2050 and the existing suite of carbon quantifying standards, as well as BIM and information management standards in order to integrate carbon management into industrywide practices and developments

Foundation for a future ISO

PAS 2080 was written in accordance with World Trade Organisation requirements and meets the requirements for public open consultation standards. Once published, it will be the first specification of its kind in the world, and it could quite possibly serve as a foundation for a future carbon management ISO standard.

Additional guidance

PAS 2080 provides an extensive list of related documents to help owners and managers seeking to achieve “PAS 2080 ready” recognition develop and adopt a methodology/approach that will best serve their particular business and/or asset. In addition to this list, the Green Construction Board has developed a guidance document for PAS 2080 (.pdf, 1.96Mb) download that includes practical advice, case studies, and articles on key carbon reduction topics.


This article has been edited and repurposed from “Carbon management in infrastructure: PAS 2080”, written for the Construction Information Service.



All resources accessed 21 March 2016.