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UKGBC publishes new guidance for construction sector to accurately model and report on embodied carbon emissions

The UK Green Building Council has published new guidance to improve how embodied carbon emissions are modelled and reported on, enabling more informed and sustainable decision-making across projects.

Although embodied carbon is being increasingly factored into how we design new buildings and influencing decisions behind whether an existing building should be demolished or re-purposed; there is currently a lack of consistency and transparency of embodied carbon modelling methods. This is reducing the construction sector’s ability to fully understand the environmental impacts associated with specific building materials, processes, and design choices, resulting in the true performance of a project being misrepresentation and efforts to reduce sector emissions hindered.

The guidance intends to provide stakeholders with an understanding of best practice, insight into common variations and errors within the modelling process and gives recommendations on how to improve overall reliability of modelling results.

Yetunde Abdul, Head of Climate Action at UKGBC said:

“Decisions made in the early stages of any construction project such as what materials to use or whether a building can be retrofitted have significant implications on embodied carbon. To ensure we make the right decisions in these situations and prevent locking-in high levels of embodied carbon, we need maximum transparency and clarity on the calculations being made during this design and modelling phase.

Without effective measurement tools, emissions will not be accurately measured and effectively abated. Transparent embodied carbon data is therefore a key pillar in achieving sustainable construction.”

The guidance includes key chapters on:

  • How to understand and use Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
  • Understanding default assumptions within the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment Professional Standard and how they’re used within modelling tools.
  • How to establish a Quality Assurance process for embodied carbon assessments and provides a template for individuals and organisations who are new to embodied carbon assessments.
  • Guidance on how embodied carbon assessments can be expected to develop and change across RIBA Stages.
  • Guidance on how to write a high-quality embodied carbon assessment report.

Said Turner & Townsend UK Advisory Managing Director, Peter McGettrick:

“We are delighted to have been part of this task force to develop this new guidance to improve the consistency and transparency of embodied carbon assessments. By providing an independent review of the reporting standards we hope this will provide clarity and confidence in the figures and findings in embodied carbon reports to help support the drive for decarbonisation.

“This new guidance is crucial to elevate discussions on embodied carbon impact within the industry. Consistent reporting will empower more informed decisions regarding cost and carbon and help contribute to achieving national and international governmental targets for net zero.”

The report is available to download here:

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