Embodied carbon assessment
Embodied carbon is the carbon footprint of a material. It considers how many greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released throughout the supply chain and is often measured from cradle to (factory) gate, or cradle to site (of use). Embodied carbon may also be measured with the boundaries of cradle to grave, which is the most complete boundary condition. This boundary includes the extraction of materials from the ground, transport, refining, processing, assembly, in-use (of the product) and finally its end of life profile.
Embodied carbon is gaining increasing attention from both industry and government where it is now recognised that embodied carbon emissions make up a large fraction of the emissions from the construction sector. In fact, it is often 20-50% of the whole life (embodied + operational) carbon emissions of a new building. This is already a significant proportion and will only increase as the thermal standards of new buildings improve.
What is embodied carbon?
The measurement of embodied energy and carbon for a building material or a construction project starts at 'The Cradle', which is the earth.
This journey is shown visually in the presentation slides below:
It is also important to remember that unlike operational carbon emissions the embodied energy and carbon cannot be reversed. Once they have been released the opportunity for improvement has passed. In contrast, operational emissions can be improved at any point in the lifetime of a building, for example by implementing a range of energy efficiency measures.
The importance of embodied carbon is therefore becoming clear and it can easily be reduced by 10-20% without increasing capital costs.
Embodied energy and carbon assessments often include:
To discuss embodied carbon further contact us.