Quantifying embodied carbon in building systems

September 27, 2021

A project involving CIBSE ANZ and AIRAH is analysing a UK methodology for calculating embodied carbon in building services, and adapting it for Australia.

Embodied carbon is defined by the World Green Building Council as carbon emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole life-cycle of a building or infrastructure. The recent GBCA report Embodied Carbon & Embodied Energy in Australia’s Buildings notes that, without action, embodied carbon will be responsible for 85 per cent of Australia’s built environment emissions by 2050.

So far, work around embodied carbon has focused on the major construction materials: concrete, steel, aluminium, clay bricks and tiles, and plasterboard. But building services also make a significant contribution to a building’s embodied carbon. CIBSE TM65 – Embodied carbon in building services: a calculation methodology notes that mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP) systems could account for up to 27 per cent of embodied carbon in new builds, and up to 75 per cent in retrofits.

TM65 was developed by CIBSE to help engineers consider the carbon embodied in building services systems. The calculations, however, were created in a European context. Now, a technical working group has been created in Australia to localise TM65.

AIRAH’s HVAC&R News interviewed Senior Engineer – Sustainability at
A.G. Coombs Advisory, Andrew Nagarajah, who is part of the working group and asked about the role that building services may contribute a significant portion of a building’s total embodied carbon.

The interview can be found here: https://www.hvacrnews.com.au/news/quantifying-embodied-carbon-in-building-systems/

For advice or information on embodied energy in building services contact
A.G. Coombs

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