Embodied carbon comes from the consumption embodied energy consumed to extract, refine, process, transport and fabricate a material or product (including buildings). It is often measured from cradle to (factory) gate, cradle to site (of use), or cradle to grave (end of life). The embodied carbon footprint is therefore the amount of carbon (CO2 or CO2e emission) to produce a material.
It is a topic of rising importance. In fact, it is normally possible to reduce the embodied energy and carbon of a building or construction project by 10-20% without adding to the build cost. What’s more embodied carbon is often 20-50%, or so, of the whole life energy and carbon of a building, i.e. when operational carbon emissions are considered.
The embodied carbon life cycle of a building can be expressed on a single diagram, as below.
So if you’re not looking at the embodied carbon of your project, then you are missing out on a valuable opportunity. This is where the Inventory of Carbon & Energy database can help. The ICE database is a useful source of embodied carbon data and is available for free from this page (fill in the form below).