UK-GBC publishes embodied carbon guidance for clients

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) has today published guidance for clients on how to effectively commission an embodied carbon measurement. The guidance is being launched at Ecobuild, in a session entitled ‘Embodied Carbon: Developing a Client Brief’.

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UK-GBC chose to focus on providing guidance for clients as this group is usually the instigator of a project’s sustainability agenda and requirements. By increasing embodied carbon awareness and action at the client level, the aim is to influence the entire supply chain as other organisations act in response to the client’s requirements.

Produced in consultation with UK-GBC members, including BRE, Carillion, Derwent London and Walsh, the guidance explains some of the basics of embodied carbon and gives an overview of some suggested approaches. It also provides example wording - which is designed to help clients stipulate the requirements for an embodied carbon measurement - and gives practical advice on how to use the outcomes of an assessment.

By the end of the guidance users should have a good overview of embodied carbon and be able to write a clear brief to commission an embodied carbon measurement.

Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UK-GBC:

"UK-GBC’s vision is of a built environment that is fully decarbonised. This has to include both embodied and operational carbon. As operational carbon reduces, the relative significance of embodied carbon increases. So we will continue to advocate for embodied carbon to become a mainstream issue in building design, construction and maintenance. Indeed, we will be encouraging our client members and other clients in the industry to create their own embodied carbon briefs by making effective use of this guidance.

“Also, through our work with cities and other local and national authorities, we will be encouraging the assessment of embodied carbon within the public sector planning and procurement process"

Members of the steering group for this guidance commented:

“Embodied carbon represents a key part of the carbon puzzle and an area of increasing interest of us.  This guide really helps organisations like ours to start making progress in measuring and subsequently tackling embodied carbon positively.” – John Davies, Derwent London

“At Walsh, we feel strongly that, as structural engineers, we have a responsibility to minimise our impact on the built environment. As such, since 2013, we have invested in researching and developing our own embodied carbon assessment tool. From this research, we have found that on a typical project, through effective lean design, around 20% of the embodied carbon of the structure can be saved. With greater client involvement this percentage saving can rise considerably, and Walsh have shown that it is possible to achieve over 60% savings. Such significant savings of embodied carbon clearly demonstrate the importance of close client engagement as a vital contribution to reducing embodied carbon.” – Peyrouz Modarres, Walsh

“Measuring, tackling and reducing Embodied Carbon is the hidden prize in shaping a better built environment – as an integrated services and construction company we hope this guidance will drive clients, designers, contractors and suppliers to work side by side to develop and maintain infrastructure with the lowest possible carbon content.  For tomorrow, 2030 and beyond, this has to be inextricably linked with operational carbon reductions as the only way to tackle our global climate challenge.” – David Picton, Carillion

“Organisations are coming under increased scrutiny about the environmental impacts of their products and the need for increasing transparency requires a more streamlined way to meet stakeholder expectations and to drive business improvements. BRE has a long history of developing activities around embodied carbon and championing a zero carbon society.  With the support of organisations such as UK-GBC we can engage clients to take their first steps into embodied carbon measurement.” – Flavie Lowres, BRE


Notes to editors

The guidance, released today, is available here.

The guidance is aimed at the following client groups:
- investors (pension funds, private equity funds etc.)
- real estate investment trusts
- developer-landlords
- owner occupiers and tenants
- local authorities
- infrastructure client

A full list of acknowledgements is available here.

About UK-GBC

UK-GBC is a charity and an industry-led network with a mission to radically improve the sustainability of the built environment.

With over 400 member organisations spanning the entire value chain, we represent the voice of the industry’s current and future leaders striving for transformational change.

We inspire, challenge and empower our members, helping them to identify and adopt the most sustainable, viable solutions.

We also engage our members in advocating a progressive message to government, informing and influencing green building policy.

More information about UK-GBC can be found here:

Published: 07/03/2017