Lendlease is throwing its weight into an ambitious environmental program that includes the removal of upstream and downstream carbon emissions known as scope 3.

Its Scope 3 Emissions Protocol  launched at Climate Week NYC, aims to be carbon neutral all the way down the line – and up – by 2040. No offsets. And it’s asking the global industry to come along for the ride.

According to the company, the built environment contributes about 40 per cent of all carbon emissions globally, with 90 per cent of Lendlease’s own emissions classified as scope 3, that is, indirect emissions from activities such as the manufacturing of building materials (upstream activities) and from the use of electricity and natural gas by building tenants (downstream activities).

With regulators around the world increasingly focused on the disclosure of scope 3 emissions, the company believes the built environment needs to get ahead of this curve.
To help accelerate the pace and scale of decarbonisation and establish consistent and comparable scope 3 reporting boundaries across the real estate sector, it has launched a 28-page scope emissions protocol – Absolute Zero by 2040.

The document outlines the company’s current view on scope 3 emissions’ reporting boundaries and is designed to be a model for others in real estate investments, development and construction.

Data sharing platform

Lendlease has now called for others in the industry – including developers, builders and construction material manufacturers – to join it in the challenge.
It has also called for an industry-wide data-sharing platform to enable the exchange of digitised, verified scope 3 emissions data.

Cate Harris, group head of Sustainability & Lendlease Foundation, said the protocol is a “seminal piece of work on our pathway towards our target of Absolute Zero.

“To know where to focus our decarbonisation, we need to first know how we are accounting for our scope 3 emissions – what is material and, therefore, what is in and out of scope.

“We want the protocol to spark conversation and engagement across our sector, to help drive to a consensus on how to account for and report on scope 3 emissions.

“If we can achieve this, then we can collaborate as an industry to solve the two big systemic challenges: the decarbonisation of harder-to-abate materials and the digitisation and sharing of scope 3 emissions data.”

Chief executive officer of The Green Building Council of Australia, Davina Rooney, said Lendlease’s new protocol is valuable and timely.

“The decarbonisation of the property value chain is an urgent priority …[and] …Industry
transformation is possible when we are aligned and working towards the same goal.”

According to a company spokesperson, over the past three to five years, there has been growing interest in scope 3 emissions declarations, which are now included in the International Sustainability Standards Board’s sustainability reporting standard.

“Our target to reach absolute zero by 2040 is completely different to a ‘net zero by 2050’
target. It is ambitious, but it is what we think the world needs. With our absolute zero by 2040 target, we are aiming for the elimination of scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions within the Lendlease defined boundaries – without the use of offsets,” the spokesperson said in an email.

The biggest challenge is reducing embodied carbon in the materials that developers rely on.

There was “no underestimating the challenges of decarbonising harder to abate
materials such steel, cement, aluminium and glass”.

“It will take time and investment to transform these industries, and we want to spark the conversation about an industry-wide focus to address scope 3/value chain emissions as a way to accelerate this.”

It’s why the data-sharing platform will be so important. The collaborative and industry-led Materials and Embodied Carbon Leaders program was a good model that the company would use to take its absolute zero concepts global.

With Tina Perinotto

UPDATE: This article was updated on 27 September to clarify that the launch at NY Climate Week was of the Scope 3 Emissions Protocol. Absolute zero was launched in 2021.

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