The Embodied Carbon Review
The Embodied Carbon Review reports the results of how embodied carbon, that is, the carbon emissions from construction materials, is addressed in certifications and regulations globally. This unique research was conducted by Bionova Ltd (One Click LCA) and sponsored by Saint-Gobain, Stora Enso, Finnish Ministry of the Environment and the Finnish Transport Agency.
The growth of global urban population is driving unprecedented construction, resulting in embodied carbon emissions from new buildings in excess of 100 gigatons by 2060. If all construction activity, including infrastructure and renovations, are included, the global construction activity carbon until 2060 is set to exceed 230 gigatons, unless carbon intensity is drastically cut.
Embodied carbon has a short-term climate impact. If energy grids decarbonise, the embodied carbon from new buildings may remain the higher long-term emissions driver as well. As buildings become more energy-efficient and use more renewable energy sources, the proportional share of embodied carbon grows.
This review analysed environmental sustainability certifications and regulations applied to construction works used at least regionally. The study identified 156 such systems, of which 105 include measures addressing embodied carbon directly. National systems were identified in 26 countries.
Embodied carbon is addressed with methods of different carbon reduction efficiency, including carbon reporting, comparison in design, carbon rating, carbon caps, and mandatory offsetting. Embodied carbon reduction methods also vary in the ways the performance is rated, and if low-carbon product selection is included as a complementary measure.
Results are reported and analysed for five global regions, with all internationally used systems and civil engineering works-targeting systems analysed separately. Regions differ significantly in terms of the prevalence of embodied carbon targeting, as well as the level of sophistication for its reduction.
The report concludes with an explanation of the identified best practices for embodied carbon reduction, highlighting the successful cases of embodied carbon reduction in certification, regulation, and infrastructure, as well as an outlook for embodied carbon reduction in the future.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building information modelling life cycle assessment IP 5 15.
- Carbon footprint.
- Chain of custody.
- Embodied carbon.
- Emission rates.
- Energy certificates.
- Energy related products regulations.
- Energy targets.
- India looks at using plastic instead of sand.
- Life cycle assessment.
- Life Cycle Costing BG67 2016.
- Performance gap.
- Sustainable materials.
- Utilising life cycle costing and life cycle assessment.
- Where does embodied carbon analysis stop?
- Whole life costs.
- Whole-life value.
Issue support documents
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Issue support documents are written for named BREEAM Issues or sub-issues. More info. (ac) = awaiting content.
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- BREEAM Sustainability champion
- BREEAM Environmental management
- BREEAM Considerate construction
- BREEAM Monitoring of construction site impacts
- BREEAM Aftercare support
- BREEAM Seasonal commissioning
- BREEAM Testing and inspecting building fabric
- BREEAM Life cycle cost and service life planning
- BREEAM Stakeholder consultation (ac)
- BREEAM Commissioning (ac)
- BREEAM Handover (ac)
- BREEAM Inclusive and accessible design (ac)
- BREEAM Post occupancy evaluation
 Health and Wellbeing
- BREEAM Visual comfort Daylighting (partly ac)
- BREEAM Visual comfort View out
- BREEAM Visual comfort Glare control
- BREEAM Indoor air quality plan
- BREEAM Indoor air quality Ventilation
- BREEAM Thermal comfort
- BREEAM Internal and external lighting (ac)
- BREEAM Indoor pollutants VOCs (ac)
- BREEAM Potential for natural ventilation (ac)
- BREEAM Safe containment in laboratories (ac)
- BREEAM Acoustic performance
- BREEAM Safety and security (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of energy use and carbon emissions
- BREEAM Energy monitoring
- BREEAM External lighting
- BREEAM Low carbon design
- BREEAM Passive design
- BREEAM Free cooling
- BREEAM LZC technologies
- BREEAM Energy efficient cold storage (partly ac)
- BREEAM Energy efficient transportation systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient laboratory systems
- BREEAM Energy efficient equipment (partly ac)
- BREEAM Drying space
- BREEAM Transport assessment and travel plan
- BREEAM Public transport accessibility
- BREEAM Sustainable transport measures
- BREEAM Proximity to amenities
- BREEAM Cyclist facilities
- BREEAM Alternative modes of transport (ac)
- BREEAM Maximum car parking capacity
- BREEAM Travel plan
- BREEAM Home office (ac)
- BREEAM Water consumption
- BREEAM Water efficient equipment
- BREEAM Water monitoring
- BREEAM Water leak detection (ac)
- BREEAM Hard landscaping and boundary protection
- BREEAM Responsible sourcing of materials
- BREEAM Insulation
- BREEAM Designing for durability and resilience
- BREEAM Life cycle impacts
- BREEAM Material efficiency (ac)
- BREEAM Construction waste management
- BREEAM Recycled aggregates
- BREEAM Speculative floor & ceiling finishes
- BREEAM Adaptation to climate change
- BREEAM Operational waste
- BREEAM Functional adaptability (ac)
 Land Use and Ecology
- BREEAM Site Selection
- BREEAM Ecological value of site
- BREEAM Protection of ecological features
- BREEAM Minimising impact on existing site ecology
- BREEAM Enhancing site ecology
- BREEAM Long term impact on biodiversity (ac)
- BREEAM Impact of refrigerants
- BREEAM NOx emissions
- BREEAM Flood risk management (ac)
- BREEAM Surface water run-off (ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of night time light pollution (partly ac)
- BREEAM Reduction of noise pollution
Once an ISD has been initially created the '(ac)' marker can be removed
This particular index is based around the structure of the New Construction and RFO schemes.