Ask ME about Embodied Carbon

What is Embodied Carbon?

Embodied Carbon is already well understood in some areas of the construction sector, in the use of materials such as concrete for example. However, the relative complexity of building services products has meant that carrying out embodied carbon assessments for this type of equipment is much more challenging, as they consist of multiple parts – often produced in different locations – before they are brought together in products such as AHUs, or VRF units.

Mitsubishi Electric aims to be transparent about the embodied carbon of its products and has been working to gather all necessary data to provide to our customers. We are examining raw material use by weight, transportation distances, and even the energy required to put components together. We then look at the lifetime of the equipment, as well as the proportion of recyclable components.

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Regulating and measuring Embodied Carbon

In 2022, there is no regulation on embodied carbon. However, we are seeing growing interest in this information from building developers and owners. There is also a requirement for information on embodied carbon for certain new-build projects that fall under the London Plan.

There are moves underway to introduce part Z to Building Regulations which will address embodied carbon in the built environment. This is something the government is taking seriously.

CIBSE introduced TM65 in 2021. This offers a robust calculation method for estimating the embodied carbon within building services. Mitsubishi Electric is working to produce these for its product ranges.

View our Embodied Carbon TM65 Calculations
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Embodied carbon balanced with operational carbon

It is important to remember that embodied carbon is a significant factor in calculating the whole life carbon of a building. Most building services products have a lifetime of 15 years (or more if maintained correctly), whereas most buildings are designed to last for at least 60 years – meaning the embodied carbon cost of replacing this equipment at the end of the product lifetime must be considered when assessing the whole life carbon emissions for a building.

As a result, the balance between embodied carbon and operational carbon produced during their lifetimes is an important consideration for specifiers. Building Services to heat, cool and ventilate contribute significantly towards a building’s operational carbon emissions, but as the carbon intensity of the electricity grid reduces and technologies become more energy efficient this operational component of a building’s carbon emissions will reduce, prompting a further focus on the embodied element.

So, it is always important to consider the long-term energy efficiency of an HVAC product and keep that at the forefront of specifying decisions.

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How to reduce embodied carbon

Reducing embodied carbon involves making a conscious effort to reduce the carbon emissions of a product or building. Using recycled materials, using an efficient design to reduce waste, embracing new technologies which have a lower environment impact and investing in carbon offsetting projects are all ways to help tackle embodied carbon.

Our Sustainable Construction team can help advise you further on how to reduce your carbon footprint and meet your net zero goals.

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What is Embodied Carbon?

Embodied carbon refers to carbon emissions associated to a product from the extraction of materials all the way to its end of life.

What is the difference between embodied carbon and operational carbon?

Embodied carbon is the carbon emissions of a building before it’s built, it is the carbon produced during the construction process. However, operational carbon is the carbon emissions of a building once it has been built and is the carbon produced over the lifetime of the building.

How do you calculate embodied carbon?

To calculate the embodied carbon of a building, you’ll need to multiply the material quantity by the carbon emissions factors. These factors, such as extraction, manufacturing or transport, can be found on environmental databases. You can calculate this manually or use an online calculation tool to help.

Mitsubishi Electric has released some TM65 Embodied Carbon Calculations for their product ranges.