TSBE Centre lead on Embodied Carbon research`

carbon graphic

“Getting the numbers right” and “Emissions saved now are worth more than those saved in the future” were two of the key points arising from the TSBE Centre’s highly successful, recent embodied carbon workshop. The event, part of the UK Green Building Council’s Embodied Carbon Week, showed how academic research at the University of Reading and professionals from different sectors of the construction industry are working together to tackle some of the challenges in the area.

The keynote speakers: Prof. John Connaughton from the University of Reading, and TSBE Centre research engineers – Howard Darby from Peter Brett Associates, Mike Medas from AECOM and Stephen Richardson from Sainsburys shared insights from their current research.

View more from the event and the speakers presentations on storify: sfy.co/bePn

howard darby photo

Follow the discussion on twitter:  #ECW2014

The presentations were followed by lively round table discussions, some of the key points listed here are being incorporated into the UK Green Building Councils summary reportof the week:

 Key messages from the discussions included:

  • There is a need for emissions to stop rising by 2020 to avoid a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees by 2100 – this means emissions saved now are “worth” more than those saved in the future, which should lead us to prioritise embodied carbon savings
  • The estimates for embodied carbon can vary considerably depending on the data source and calculation method used
  • There are opportunities for embodied carbon reduction which need further investigation including:

–          Off-site prefabrication, light weight construction and modular building  -but not at the expense of thermal performance

–          There are significant benefits of using by-products and recycled materials in concrete mixes

–          Timber, if sustainably procured and disposed of, has the potential to be carbon negative

–          -Increased design for re-use and viewing buildings as an adaptable “chassis”

 Some of the challenges identified: 

  • Low general awareness of the subject and issues
  • Current procurement methods and the conservative nature of the construction industry can act as barriers to the use of innovative materials
  • The industry lacks a clear business driver for tackling embodied carbon

Following on from the event, researchers from the TSBE centre in collaboration with industrial partners, will continue to lead research in this area through the Univesty’s Embodied Carbon Research group.  Future research outputs will be communicated through the TSBE website and regular seminars are planned to discuss specific issues.


Blog post by Jenny Berger TSBE Centre Manager

Find out more about the TSBE Centre: http://www.reading.ac.uk/tsbe/

Or find out more about our speakers:





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