The building industry is working towards a national framework for a total embodied carbon rating system to measure the environmental impact of a building.
This is a welcome move that will provide clarity for manufacturers to offer architects and engineers. There are four standards commonly used and many stop measuring impact at the building site – the ‘cradle to the gate’ measure.
Over a 50-year lifecycle, nearly 90 per cent of a building’s emissions are generated by operational functions –primarily heating and cooling.
Elizabeth McIntyre, CEO of of Think Brick Australia, said it’s vital to include these emissions in an environmental impact analysis.
“In developing a national standard, are we looking at the whole picture?”
“To bring the current impact measures into a uniform, national standard, we can go further than the variations of traditional lifecycle assessments currently in use.
“The standards commonly in use in Australia take a ‘cradle to gate’ approach, only measuring the environmental impact of building materials during product extraction and manufacture. Others take the ‘cradle to the grave’ approach – including raw materials, water, energy in production, and waste and emissions.
“This is where many standards end. Think Brick Australia has invested research into understanding the total lifecycle assessment. This measures the effects of the material’s use in construction, maintenance, and disposal, and it measures the environmental effect of operational emissions from living in a building.”
Think Brick Australia has been investigating the total lifecycle of building materials since instigating the brick industry’s first broad-scale, peer-reviewed research in 2008. A total LCA can measure operational and embodied emissions for a complete picture into the energy efficiency and environmental impacts of buildings.