• ASBEC has released an issues paper on embodied carbon.
    ASBEC has released an issues paper on embodied carbon.

The Australian Built Environment Council (ASBEC) has released an issues paper about the built environment embodied energy, with the aim of delivering a comprehensive policy framework later this year.

The issues paper has been released to accelerate the creation of critical policies that will ensure an aligned, common, and comprehensive approach to also addressing upfront carbon emissions.

“Countries across the globe are working on decarbonisation strategies for their built environments,” the ASBEC paper said.

“While strategies to reduce emissions in the built environment have previously focused on operational emissions, there is a growing emphasis to also address embodied carbon due to the rapid decarbonisation of the electricity sector.”

Embodied carbon is defined as the embodied carbon emissions that occur upfront during construction from materials and site activities, in-use emissions from maintenance works, and end-of-life emissions.

Out of these, upfront carbon is the most critical, because it is large (about 70 per cent of all embodied carbon) and cannot be changed, because once the building opens it has been spent.

The total amount of upfront emissions from construction activities is about five to 10 per cent of Australia’s total yearly emissions. These emissions are also difficult to eliminate.

Australia must tackle embodied carbon to achieve its net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

ASBEC aims to create this policy framework first by identifying the major issues and solutions that can create momentum for change.

The next step is selecting focus areas to address rather than diluting effort across too many areas.