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Introducing the BCIS cost and carbon materials database

Published: 05/02/2024

How much more do you need to pay for building materials with lower carbon emissions? How do you consider not just operational, but also embodied carbon when selecting materials? 

What if you wanted to compare multiple product options side by side? Would seeing a 12-month inflation forecast on those costs alter your decision? And how do you track changes in cost and carbon values as your project progresses? 

These are some of the questions that BCIS will help to answer with the launch of its Cost and Carbon Materials Database part of the BCIS Life Cycle Evaluator. 

The first of its kind for the industry, the Cost and Carbon Materials Database combines three vital tools to help inform decisions that optimise both what is good for the planet and what is good for your project budget. 

Crucially, it’s fully compliant with the RICS whole life carbon assessment standard, set to become the world-leading standard for consistent and accurate carbon measurement in the built environment. 

The database includes: 

  • The cost of materials – a database of more than 9,200 (and growing) common building, civil engineering and specialist engineering material resources with UK-average merchant price levels. 
  • The effects of inflation (past and forecast) on the cost of those materials. 
  • Detailed carbon credentials for a representative material, where available, including converted carbon values in line with the RICS standard, weight and manufacturer details. 

BCIS CEO James Fiske said the database is a natural progression of providing both cost and carbon data to the industry, to bring them together in a consistent, easy-to-understand and simple-to-use format, which empowers cost professionals to make more informed choices, whether they are at the estimating, procuring, benchmarking or auditing stage. 

He said: “Having led on the development of the Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD), a free industry repository for the sharing of product and project carbon data, it really struck us how inconsistent the data can be. 

‘It’s all well and good saying that construction firms should be calculating and reporting on embodied carbon, because we know we have a mountain to climb in terms of reducing emissions from the built environment, but the practicalities of those calculations and trying to sift through the data to find what you need is far from straightforward. 

‘When it comes to actually being able to make informed decisions, so you can properly assess the cost of using one material or product over another, in terms of both monetary cost and cost to the environment, you can be tripped at the first hurdle because the units of measure aren’t even the same. 

‘The Cost and Carbon Materials Database is our first step to making those decisions much easier. As well as looking up current costs, which will be updated monthly, we also provide percentages for past inflation and a 12-month forecast, so you can see the bigger picture. 

‘Crucially, materials have been assigned a representative environmental product declaration where one is available and, where there’s an inconsistency because a different unit of measure has been used in the EPD, we provide the calculation and converted carbon value to use. 

‘With the ability to compare up to four materials side by side, you can properly evaluate the attributes of each, also including logistical considerations like size and weight, and the practicalities of getting something onto site. 

‘I’m very proud that we can offer this new service to the industry. It’s the only database of its kind available and will be an essential tool in helping the built environment’s drive towards net zero.’ 

Get a sample report - The Cost and Carbon Materials Database

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