The problem with embedded carbon

Climate change is rapidly escalating and there are huge amounts of hard work ahead if we are to mitigate its effects.

COP26 is underway in Glasgow and is shining a light on the climate crisis as world leaders discuss methods of achieving a net-zero future. 

For building professionals, this has typically meant increasing energy efficiency and pushing for the production of renewable energy which reduces the amount of carbon generated. 

We also need to think about embedded carbon, this is what is emitted during the construction of our buildings. The manufacturing of building materials makes up 11% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This may sound small when compared to the impact of operational carbon which is 28%. 

The emissions that we produce between now and 2050 will determine whether the goals of the Paris Agreement are met, which is the limit global warming to no more than 1.5C 

Design considerations 

Building reuse and the incorporation of salvaged building materials can greatly reduce the embodied carbon of construction. It can also be important to look at the end of life of new buildings before they are built such as them serving two or three different purposes over their lifetime. Considering design for the future uses of buildings can ensure that materials serve many purposes within a building’s life cycle. 


These problems can be solved when looking at environmental product declarations (EPDs) for the carbon footprint of specific products. Manufacturers on bimstore will soon have the ability to upload their EPDs which will empower specifiers to make decisions on whether they want to include them on projects. 

bimstore is recommended by 9 out of 10 manufacturers after seeing an increase in specification, views and downloads of their BIM objects. 

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