Editor: I read with interest and some frustration your articles last week on the complete absence of discussion on embodied carbon in the government’s new Heat & Buildings Strategy, and just a fleeting mention in its Net Zero Strategy.
For our sector in particular, it is crucial that embodied carbon is regulated. Some 40% of global emissions come from buildings and construction, and a third of that is embodied carbon. New and evolving technology gives us an opportunity to reduce operational carbon over a building’s lifecycle, but when it is embodied we only get one shot.
The responsibility to reduce it lies on our shoulders, but given that the current carbon-intensive materials are the path of least resistance, the construction industry will only hit net zero carbon once this is challenged and regulated by government.
Looking back, we can see that reductions in operational carbon over the past 20 years correlate closely with changes to building regulations at the start of the century. That same regulatory scrutiny is now needed for whole-life carbon, for which the supply chain and industry will adapt.
At Moda Living, we have been using the design principles of our state-of-the-art, 42-storey Birmingham neighbourhood, The Mercian, to define how we reduce embodied carbon across our development pipeline, and we are pleased with the progress.
A recent carbon assessment of the project from cradle to practical completion, by our engineers at WSP, showed total embodied carbon of 319kgCO2e/m2 – drawing very close to the LETI 2030 target of 300kgCO2e/m2 – and we do not plan to stop there.
There are many challenges we must overcome to meet the responsibility we have as a designer, developer and operator to the communities around us. We will continue to invest our time and money to hit net-zero carbon as soon as we can.
But we urgently need that to be supported with regulation at government level. We want the government to know that Moda and our industry are ready for the challenge.
Chris Trunkfield, design architect, Moda Living