Embodied Carbon – Practical Guidance

Practical guidance to enable built environment clients to begin requesting embodied carbon measurements and how to act on the results.
Cheshire Oaks Roof


September 21, 2017


Research & Innovation



With the increasingly successful reduction of operational energy (and thus carbon emissions) in the built environment, the industry’s next challenge is to reduce the carbon intensity of the structures themselves.

We know that clients will play a critical role in this work as what clients ask for, the supply chain works to deliver. UKGBC also understands that embodied carbon is an area that many clients are just beginning to address. This guide is designed for those who need to write effective briefs for commissioning their first embodied carbon measurements, but who may be at an early stage of embodied carbon knowledge.

The purpose of this guide is to set out clear and practical guidance to enable built environment clients to begin requesting embodied carbon measurements. This includes understanding the outcomes from an assessment and how to start acting on the results.

The guidance explains:

  • some of the basics of embodied carbon
  • gives an overview of some suggested approaches
  • provides example clauses to propel embodied carbon requirements down the supply chain and
  • gives practical tips on how to use the outcomes of an assessment.

The guidance is appropriate for any capital investment intervention in the built environment such as new build, refurbishment or renewal whether in buildings, infrastructure or other built assets.

“UKGBC’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.”
Julie Hirigoyen, CEO, UK Green Building Council.