Despite being a significant source of carbon emissions in the UK, embodied carbon is currently unregulated, and measurement and mitigation within construction is typically voluntary. As highlighted by UKGBC’s Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, the accurate and consistent measurement and reporting of embodied carbon is critical to ensure meaningful and credible progress towards our net zero carbon goals, yet it is currently only addressed by leading organisations in the built environment.

To address this challenge, UKGCB is scaling up its activities to mainstream action on embodied carbon. As part of this work, UKGBC has recently embarked on a new project focussing on improving industry understanding and ability to accurately measure and report on embodied carbon emissions. Ultimately, the project’s aim is to drive the practice of embodied carbon measurement beyond early adopters to becoming common practice. To support this ambition, UKGBC has mobilised a team of 70+ experts from across the built environment, ranging from developers, suppliers to academia.

Working with the Task Group over the coming months, UKGBC is developing two crucial guidance documents.

  • Targeted at practitioners across the industry, the first document will provide insight into the development and use of embodied carbon data, as well as specific guidance to help Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) teams improve the reliability, transparency, and consistency of their results.
  • The second publication will guide sustainability leadership teams to align their organisation’s Scope 3 reporting with embodied carbon calculations and increase understanding of how the two methods can complement each other.

Both guidance documents are due for publication in Autumn 2023.

UKGBC’s increased focus on embodied carbon is being targeted during an important year for decarbonisation in the built environment, with newly published and forthcoming guidance updates expected from several professional institutions including from RICS, the Net Zero Carbon Building Standard, PAS2080, and the SBTi Buildings Pathway Project. UKGBC is working closely with stakeholders across industry to ensure our work complements that of other organisations.

Embodied carbon is irreversible once an asset is built and can account for up to 50 percent of a building’s emissions over its lifetime. While many leading developers and infrastructure organisations measure and optimise the embodied carbon footprint of their projects, it is far from being mainstream practice. Together with UKGBC’s Embodied Carbon Task Group, we’re hoping to accelerate a reverse in this trend.

The time is now for industry to make tackling embodied emissions a priority. We must enable industry to undertake reliable calculations at scale, and then use this data to make climate conscious decisions about which projects are compatible with a net zero futuree.”

UKGBC’s Head of Climate Action, Yetunde Abdul said:

This project forms part of UKGBC’s Advancing Net Zero Programme, which has been made possible this year thanks to the generous support of our Programme Partners: BAM Construct UKBerkeley GroupBuro HappoldCBREGrosvenor Property UKHoare LeaISGJLLLloyds Banking GroupROCKWOOLTurner & Townsend, and Project Partners: Hawkins\Brown, Multiplex and PfP igloo.