What is embodied carbon?
Embodied carbon, also known as ‘embodied carbon emissions’ or ‘embodied carbon footprint’, refers to the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during the production, transportation, and construction of a building, infrastructure project, or product. It accounts for the emissions associated with the entire lifecycle of the product, from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing, transportation, construction, and eventual disposal.
Why is this important?
The concept of embodied carbon is important because it highlights the environmental impact of the materials and processes used in construction and manufacturing. It is a significant component of a building or product’s overall carbon footprint, alongside its operational carbon emissions, which are the emissions associated with energy use and maintenance during its lifetime.
It is typically measured in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and is often expressed in units of mass (e.g., kilograms or metric tons of CO2e).
Reducing embodied carbon is crucial for addressing climate change, as it helps in minimising the carbon emissions associated with the built environment and products. Strategies to reduce embodied carbon include using more sustainable materials, optimising supply chains, and implementing energy-efficient manufacturing and construction processes. By considering both operational and embodied carbon, it is possible to make more informed decisions to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly built environment and consumer products.
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