Whole life carbon emissions in built environment contribute to 22% of UK carbon footprint

Sep 29, 2017 | News

By <a href="" target="_self">George Catchpole</a>

By George Catchpole

Marketing Manager

The whole life carbon emissions in the built environment have been highlighted as a major contributor to UK carbon emissions in a new landmark series by the UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC).


The State of the Sustainability in the UK Built Environment’, a specially commissioned project launched yesterday evening to mark the UK-GBC’s 10th anniversary, highlights that operational and embodied carbon, which make up the whole life carbon emissions of a building, account for 22% of the UK’s total carbon footprint.

The UK-GBC said last night that not enough was being done to tackle these and other issues, including waste and carbon emissions from heating buildings.

“This project was designed to bring the data that is available to life, and in collaboration with experts, to highlight where we urgently need to either measure new aspects or take different actions to address the magnitude of the challenges we face,” said Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at UK-GBC.

The UK-GBC highlighted that energy efficiency of buildings, for example, is still being inconsistently measured and reported on by the industry. Meanwhile, embodied carbon, which experts say can make up 20-50% of the whole life carbon emissions of a new building – and as much as 70% for a large industrial developments – is not even yet legislated for.

Steve Malkin, founder of The Planet Mark™, which certifies new developments that reduce their whole life carbon emissions, welcomed the UK-GBC’s insights. “We work with developers who are showing real leadership in whole life carbon measurement and reduction, but more action across the industry is required to create supply chains that can deliver low carbon projects as a standard specification.

“ The State of the Sustainability in the UK Built Environment is a great project to highlight where we need to focus efforts and we look forward to working with the UK-GBC and industry to make real change happen.”

UK-GBC - state of sustainability in the uk built environment

Working with industry stakeholders and UK-GBC members, the project focuses on climate change, resource use, biodiversity, health and wellbeing and socio-economic impact. It has brought existing datasets together alongside some data that was previously unpublished. Among the other key statistics highlighted are:

  • 10% of UK carbon emissions come from heating buildings alone
  • Waste from construction, demolition and excavation represents 59% of the total UK waste
  • Since 1970 56% of monitored species in the UK have declined.

Steve Malkin will be talking about ‘How to tackle whole life carbon emissions in your buildings’ on October 10th at 12pm at UK Construction Week. Register your interest here..