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Climate Change blog: Greenhouse Gas guidance from the FHRG

31 March 2022

Earlier this month, Proving and ADEPT released the first edition of the Scope 1 & 2 Guidance for Local Highways Authorities. This document is now freely available to all Future Highways Research Group (FHRG) and ADEPT members. Proving’s Simon Wilson explains more…

Scope 1 & 2 Guidance for Local Highways Authorities provides step-by-step guidance for the measurement of combusted fuels (including natural gas, heating oil, petrol, and diesel), fugitive emissions from cooling systems (air conditioners and refrigerators) and purchased electricity. Whilst incorporating the relevant elements of the GHG (Greenhouse Gas) standards, BS EN ISO 14001, PAS 2050 and PAS 2080, the guidance also includes processes and dataset specifications for creating inventories of premises and vehicles, plant and equipment (VPE). These inventories will play an important role in developing future carbon reduction strategies by highlighting the main sources of emissions.

The GHG Scope 1 and 2 guidance is the first of a two-part programme to develop template processes for carbon measurement and reporting for local highways authorities (LHAs) and their supply chain partners. GHG Scope 3 is the next major step.

The programme is driven by the demand for standardised, highways-specific guidance for the sector, the absence of which has led to authorities developing and implementing their own interpretations of GHG protocols. This fragmented approach is expensive, time-consuming and replete with risks – as many of our FHRG members will attest. Standardised guidance will enable LHAs to rapidly tailor and deploy off-the-shelf, sector-specific processes. Standardised carbon measurement and calculation methods will provide the consistency necessary for effective supply chain data collection and reporting. Ultimately, where consistent standards are applied, sector-wide carbon footprint benchmarking becomes a possibility.

As the programme moves to GHG Scope 3, the complexity of carbon measurement and accounting increases dramatically. Scope 3 focuses on the many emission sources within LHA supply chains. These include emissions from purchased goods and services, capital items, transportation, business travel and staff commuting. 

As we highlighted above, we are not starting with a clean slate. Highly diverse approaches have already adopted within the sector – and not just by LHAs. Private sector organisations have spent many years embedding processes to monitor and reduce their carbon footprints. To date, the FHRG has identified 31 carbon calculators. Some are data-enabled Microsoft Excel-based workbooks (often developed in-house), others are sophisticated online tools. Many have been adapted from carbon calculators used in other sectors and some have been sourced internationally. However, all use different boundaries, assumptions and calculations, and some rely on internally sourced or uncalibrated data. 

The Scope 3: Standards & Guidance for Local Highways Authorities will provide a baseline standard for carbon measurement and reporting that can be applied across supply chains – from capital schemes to day-to-day operations. While we are not seeking to create another carbon calculator, we will propose robust, baseline standards for carbon calculations and promote the use of consistent and reliable data sources. Once published, these standards can be used by LHAs to evaluate the carbon calculators available within the market, enabling them to make informed choices about which to adopt. Consistent standards will also benefit supply chain partners by reducing the diversity of demand for information.

As previously in Scope 1 and 2, guidance and template processes will be provided in support of the proposed standards. These will be evolved from the proven processes developed by Devon County Council and the University of Exeter and tested by FHRG members. 

With funding from private sector research sponsors and the Department for Transport, for the Scope 3 programme we will be working with a wide range of subject matter experts, including FHRG members, Ringway, Atkins, Colas, the Chartered Institution for Highways and Transportation and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association. Now launched, the Scope 3 programme will aim to publish in Q4, 2022. We will keep FHRG and ADEPT members updated throughout the year.

Should you wish to participate in the Scope 3 programme, please contact Simon Wilson, the FHRG Research Director at [email protected].

Scope 1 & 2 Guidance for Local Highways Authorities is available here.

Find out more about the Future Highways Research Group here.