Blog: Carbon Literacy

Blog: Carbon Literacy

Building Surveyor, Beth Round talks about carbon literacy in her latest blog and considers practical ways in which we can all reduce our carbon footprint.

Are you aware of your carbon footprint? Do you actively try to reduce it? Do you want some easy and quick wins to help reduce your impact on the planet?

I recently attended a carbon literacy training course to gain an awareness of the impact of carbon dioxide on the planet and provide motivation to reduce emissions as an individual and on behalf of Bowman Riley. The average delegate reduces their carbon footprint by 5-15% – hopefully, this blog will inspire you to reduce yours as well!

An understanding of the climate emergency

We are in a climate emergency: the world is experiencing hotter temperatures, increased droughts, severe storms, and warming and rising seas.

Three scenarios for differing temperature rises have been established. If we take no action, the world is currently on course to warm more than 3°c above pre-industrial levels (Global Citizen). The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to well below 2°c, preferably 1.5°c. 

The temperature difference might seem minimal; however, the impact on the planet is enormous. A 3°c increase would mean a 63% probability of an ice-free arctic summer in any one year, 2°c would reduce this to 16%, and 1.5°c would bring it down to 3%. A 3°c increase would mean 41% of mammals lose half their habitat, but a 1.5°c rise would reduce this to 4%. (Positive Planet).

The climate emergency & construction

As construction professionals, we must change how we design buildings regarding their construction and use.  

Energy use in buildings accounts for 17.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

We also need to look at how we operate as businesses. Bowman Riley is working with Positive Planet to establish our carbon footprint and will use this to achieve carbon net zero in line with the RIBA’s 2030 Climate Challenge.  

The climate emergency and you

The average UK person’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint is 12.7 tonnes of CO₂e annually. To put this in perspective, it is the equivalent of driving 23,000 miles or eating over 1000 beef steaks or 4100 camemberts (

How you can help

You can use Giki to calculate your carbon footprint and think about how you can reduce this. The actions may seem small, but you can make a big difference if you do little things regularly. If everyone in the UK reduced their carbon footprint by 100kgs annually – the same as eating eight fewer steaks – we’d be 6.8 million tonnes of carbon lighter.

Look at your food and eating habits:

  • Think about eating locally-grown food
  • Minimise waste by using up and freezing leftovers
  • Try meat-free Monday
  • Eat poultry and fish rather than red meat
  • Eat seasonal food that has travelled the minimal distance.

Consider your home life: 

  • Try turning your thermostat down by one degree.
  • Do your laundry in colder water
  • Insulate your home
  • Switch to a renewable energy supplier
  • Unplug your appliances and install energy-efficient light bulbs
  • Look at your pension and bank accounts to check that your money is invested sustainably.

Think about your travelling habits: 

  • Use public transport
  • Walk and cycle more 
  • Take a staycation instead of a flight.

Consider what you’re purchasing: 

  • Buy less
  • Buy second hand
  • Repair and upcycle what you already have.

Below are helpful links to inspire and help you live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Read the book – ‘How Bad are Bananas’ by Mike Berners Lee

Use the browser – ‘Ecosia’  which plants trees when you search

Plant a tree for free.

Check out this app to help you live more sustainably.

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