Sustainable Construction Materials
The guide to lowering and sourcing lower embodied carbon products for your construction project
Given the urgency of climate change and the publics appetite to slash carbon emissions sourcing sustainable construction materials used daily on building sites should be straight forward..
It isnt! So TCRC have started to create a space to easily identify and go onto purchase through third parties equivalent more sustainable construction products. Lower embodied carbon materials often incorporate bi-products from other processes. This means there is less raw materials and thus extraction and processing required which reduces the embodied carbon. Common products such as steel, cement, concrete, blocks and bricks have been researched. Then followed up with manufacturers to determine the exact technical specification of products and then cross referenced against the The Inventory of Carbon and Energy (also know as the ICE database) an embodied carbon database for building materials. The database is part funded by the UK Environment Agency and is the definitive guide to embodied carbon of materials.
Embodied carbon comes from the embodied energy consumed to extract, refine, process, transport and fabricate a material or product (including buildings). It is often measured from cradle to (factory) gate, cradle to site (of use), or cradle to grave (end of life). The embodied carbon footprint is therefore the amount of carbon (CO2 or CO2e emission) to produce a material.
The embodied energy (carbon) of materials such as steel, concrete, cement and aluminium in the construction of buildings has a huge impact on associated lifecycle carbon emissions.
For example worldwide, 30 billion tonnes of concrete is used each year. But concrete has a colossal carbon footprint — at least 8% of global emissions caused by humans come from the cement industry alone
Typically around 30-50% of the life cycle carbon emissions for a building is in the initial construction phase. That means as consumers, clients, architects and builders YOU have a huge opportunity to slash carbon emissions today through sourcing more sustainable construction materials.