Can you tell your scope 1 emissions from your scope 3? |
Decarbonizing construction

Can you tell your scope 1 emissions from your scope 3?

The construction sector possesses vast opportunities to reduce emissions across the whole value chain, creating big wins for the environment and operational efficiency. A key tool in achieving this is the Scopes model produced under the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. So how does the model actually work? And what's a concrete example of how it is being used to decarbonize construction?

In the latest episode of our Shaping Sustainable Places podcast, we talk with Pankaj Bharti, Director of the GHG Protocol at the World Resources Institute. We also speak with Skanska team members Ivan Cusini and Anders Edvardsson who have significantly reduced Scope 3 emissions on a project in Sweden through the use of reused materials.


A model for reducing emissions


Pankaj explains that the Scopes concept is all about helping companies to measure their direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions with a view to lowering them and reducing their climate impacts. There are three levels or ‘scopes’ through which such emissions can be measured.


Pankaj says Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from a company's owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions from the generation of energy purchased and consumed by a company. And Scope 3 are all other indirect emissions not included in Scope 2 that occur in the value chain of a company. Scope 3 emissions are divided into 15 categories that distinguish between upstream and downstream emissions.


Pankaj explains that for a typical construction business Scope 1 and 2 emissions will come from fuel burned on site to operate heavy machinery, and electricity used to provide lighting, operate fans and pumps and charge construction equipment. Identifying Scope 3 emissions is more complex. These include the embodied emissions associated with building materials, the transportation of materials to the construction site, emissions during a building’s operation, and finally emissions from the eventual demolition of a building disposal of its waste.


Pankaj says the Scopes model is rapidly gaining wide acceptance, including by the US Securities Exchange Commission.


A 30-tonne reduction in carbon


Skanska team members Ivan Cusini and Anders Edvardsson have recently been working to reduce Scope 3 emissions on an office building project in southern Sweden through the use of upcycled materials.


Anders, who is Sustainability Manager within the Hus Syd division, explains the project in Karlskrona made use of 300 square meters of hollow core slabs salvaged from a demolition site in Lund, about 250 kilometers away. To reduce environmental impacts, the slabs were transported using trucks powered by biogas, lowering the greenhouse gas emissions produced.


Ivan, who is a Sustainability Specialist at Skanska, explains the choice of upcycled materials helped reduce overall emissions by 30 tons.


Anders says while using upcycled materials was more costly for the project, prices are likely to come down going forward as the practice becomes more common. He says Skanska is sharing knowledge of the process with businesses in the sector.


You can tune in, listen and subscribe to the podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


Don't miss our guest article from Pankaj Bhatia, Director of GHG Protocol, guiding you through the Scopes and the value they can bring to companies.