For decades, the UK construction sector has been working hard to reduce the operational carbon of buildings. As we continue to focus on operational CO2 savings, attention has also turned to embodied carbon, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions released by the manufacture and supply of construction products and materials, as well as the construction process itself.
According to the UK Green Building Council “depending on building type, by the time a building is occupied, somewhere between 30% and 70% of its lifetime carbon may already have been accounted for.” Clearly a significant opportunity exists to reduce carbon footprint before a structure is ever in use; selecting carbon efficient materials is a key part of the solution.
However, calculating the carbon efficiency of materials should mean viewing embodied carbon from a whole life perspective. Going forward, sustainable buildings should be designed to reduce carbon use up front, but they should also offer resilient design that saves energy over the whole life term of a project too. Buildings should be designed to keep materials in use, which can be disassembled and reused. In addition, the use of construction materials which significantly reduce the need for maintenance.
The principles of circular design will be fundamental to a new competition brought to you by RIBA Journal and Galvanizers Association – Wanderer’s Wonder. The competition invites proposals for a fun and playful building or structure for rest and recuperation that would enhance a walk in the great outdoors – rural or urban.