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BECU Report

The built environment is in a prime position to address the emergency of climate change through the reduction of embodied carbon emissions from our buildings and infrastructure assets, according to a new report published by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC).

 Released in conjunction with the 10th World Green Building Week, Climate Week NYC, and the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, the comprehensive “Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront” report highlights decarbonisation of the built environment as one of the most cost-effective ways to mitigate climate change. With the global building stock expected to double in order to accommodate the world’s projected population of 10 billion, this growth will contribute to an expected doubling of the global consumption of raw materials by around the middle of the century, significantly increasing the building and construction sector’s emissions and climate impact.

The built environment is responsible for 40 percent of global carbon emissions, with embodied carbon emissions being especially critical. The carbon dioxide equivalent of emissions associated with the full supply chain of all materials and systems put into any built environment project, embodied carbon is different from operational carbon in that the latter can be improved over the lifetime of a building. If embodied carbon emissions are not addressed before the building project moves past the design stage, there is no way for building owners to reclaim lost carbon savings once the building is constructed and subsequently used.

The breakdown of carbon emissions for buildings is typically 30 percent embodied carbon emissions versus 70 percent for carbon emissions due to building operations. In Singapore, where the lifespans of buildings tend to be shorter due to urban renewal, the embodied carbon emissions of buildings can constitute up to 40 percent of the total carbon emissions over the lifespan of the building.

“Our buildings and infrastructure assets are in a very prime position to mitigate the effects of climate change by being greener and more carbon-efficient,” emphasised Dr. Ho Nyok Yong, President of the SGBC. “SGBC’s unique position in the building and construction value chain allows us to aggregate and share innovative solutions and best practices that contribute towards a low-carbon future, complemented by our own programmes designed to raise awareness and expand knowledge. As the built environment is designed and constructed to be more energy-efficient, we need to deepen our focus on addressing embodied carbon, emissions that will stay with the building from the outset and throughout its lifespan.”

Click here to read the full report.