A new study, 'Towards embodied carbon benchmarks for buildings in Europe', by Ramboll, in collaboration with leading researchers from Aalborg University Build and KU Leuven sets out a framework for benchmarking and limiting the embodied carbon of new buildings.
Budgeting embodied carbon for new buildings
Reducing embodied carbon to levels aligned with the Paris Agreement requires carbon budgets for buildings linked to national emissions reduction targets. The study shows that this kind of consideration is not yet sufficiently developed in existing initiatives.
Critically, it proposes a new methodology to define and implement Paris-aligned budgets and pathways related to reduction of embodied carbon in buildings.
“Current voluntary efforts, including certification schemes, and existing European legislation fall short of setting granular targets, based on robust data, which are necessary to reduce embodied carbon in line with the Paris Agreement” Says, Harpa Birgisdottir, Research Group Leader for BUILD at Aalborg University
Baseline, budgets and benchmarks
The Study identifies solutions to measure embodied carbon, define carbon budgets and targets. Importantly it includes recommendations for a baseline of current embodied carbon levels in new buildings, as well as considerations of the available carbon budget for these emissions. This will form the basis of a performance system in the shape of benchmarks for the reduction of embodied carbon.
Embodied carbon matters
On average 600 t CO2e embodied carbon is emitted for a newly constructed building of 1000 m2 throughout its lifecycle. Urbanisation and population growth has driven the construction of new buildings to an all-time high, basically implying that the buildings and construction sector is standing in the way of us delivering on our Paris agreement commitments of limiting global warming to well below 2°C.