The construction sector, responsible for a staggering 39% of global carbon emissions, highlights the urgent need for sustainable design in combating climate change. Embodied carbon, a significant contributor to these emissions, is present in the materials and processes of building construction. Like a disease, it can be diagnosed and treated through sustainable design principles, making this approach not just essential but a responsibility for a healthier planet. The challenge is amplified by the substantial environmental impact of construction materials such as concrete, steel, and aluminium, which alone account for about 9% of energy-related CO2 emissions.
At COP28, the Buildings Breakthrough initiative was launched by 27 countries, aiming for near-zero emissions and resilient buildings by 2030. This initiative focuses on addressing embodied carbon in buildings, which often undermines the benefits of energy efficiency. The global construction sector’s massive waste generation, approximately 100 billion tonnes, with about 35% ending up in landfills is also brought to light. Moreover, the predicted doubling of raw material use by 2060, particularly in rapidly developing economies, is set to doubly increase greenhouse gas emissions. This trend underscores the urgent need for a whole-life cycle approach in construction, aligning with the global commitment to sustainable building practices.
Understanding Embodied Carbon
Embodied carbon encompasses the greenhouse gas emissions from the manufacturing, transportation, installation of building materials, and the construction process itself. Materials such as concrete and steel are particularly high in embodied carbon, making the exploration of their impacts and sustainable alternatives crucial in the construction industry. Accurately diagnosing a building’s carbon footprint through tools including Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and carbon calculators is essential in understanding and mitigating its environmental impact.
Sustainable Design as a Remedy
Sustainable design principles, including material efficiency, reuse, and recycling, are key to reducing embodied carbon. These principles advocate for a shift towards more sustainable materials without sacrificing functionality. Innovative alternatives like bamboo, recycled metals, and bio-based plastics offer lower carbon footprints and open new possibilities in sustainable construction.
A comprehensive approach, examining a product’s entire lifecycle from raw material extraction to end-of-life disposal or recycling, is vital in understanding and reducing its environmental impact. The founding principles of Sustain360°™ are to combat Embodied Carbon at the design stage.
- Advanced Lifecycle Assessment Tools: Sustain360°™’s sophisticated LCA capabilities enable precise measurement and analysis of embodied carbon in construction materials and processes.
- Sustainable Material Alternatives: We provide insights into sustainable material alternatives, helping designers and builders make informed, environmentally friendly choices.
- Collaborative Platform for Sustainable Design: Sustain360°™ fosters collaboration among architects, engineers, and construction professionals, promoting sustainable design practices across projects.
- Data-Driven Insights for Lower Carbon Footprints: Our platform’s data-driven approach helps in identifying and implementing strategies to minimize embodied carbon, aligning with global sustainability goals.
The eradication of the ‘carbon disease’ in construction requires a united front. By embracing sustainable design using Sustain360°™, we can make significant strides towards a greener, more sustainable future. Request a demo today to be part of the collective journey towards reducing our carbon footprint, one innovative design at a time.