Does a life cycle carbon assessment constrain the benefits of biogenic materials?

The built environment industry directly controls 25% of total UK carbon emissions (1), and is under increasing pressure to decarbonise. In an effort to address this significant footprint, it has become common to calculate the upfront and whole life carbon emissions of a building in what’s known as a life cycle assessment (LCA). This article argues that while the current LCA method
enables a straightforward framework for quantifying carbon in a project, it doesn’t consider all the benefits of using biogenic materials such as timber. Biogenic materials sequester carbon in their cellular structure, and their use in long-life products is an effective way to store carbon in the built environment. As an LCA is often used in comparing materials during early-stage
optioneering, the industry could be missing an opportunity to meaningfully reduce carbon in construction projects.

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