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Combating confusion when it comes to embodied carbon measurements \

The UKGBC are creating guidance for clients to combat the confusion when specifying an embodied carbon measurement.

I attended the final consultation workshop to represent Hawkins\Brown in light of our partnership with UCL and the co-funded research into Embodied Carbon and Life Cycle Analysis.

The workshop was attended by a range of people from the industry, representing clients, designers, contractors, suppliers and academia. It was clear there are a number of issues that are being grappled with, including:

  • What is the benefit of a pure embodied carbon measurement to a client without an understanding of how that relates to a whole life assessment including operational carbon?
  • There is a lack of standard measurement tools and robust data - clients should be aware of the current limitations of what they are specifying and ask their consultants to be clear what data they are using; there are so many current sources that it is possible a measurement done to the same boundary by different consultants will produce different results.
  • Clients should be aware that within a specific measurement boundary many different consultants will be responsible, so a clear distinction is required, especially if the eventual aim is a reduction in embodied carbon within a development programme over time.

As architects, we'd like to see embodied carbon measurements used as an iterative design tool within the design process, and for this to be considered within the whole life cycle carbon analysis. To achieve this aim, the industry requires freely available, robust data, such as product Environmental Performance Declarations and standard measurement techniques and metrics.

Initiatives such as this UKGBC project and movement towards establishing a standard methods mean we are slowly moving towards this.

The client guidance will be launched next year at EcoBuild.

“...we'd like to see embodied carbon measurements used as an iterative design tool within the design process...”

Louisa Bowles Partner, Hawkins\Brown

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