Carbon Leadership Forum

February 4, 2020

Embodied Carbon Primer – London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI)

The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) recently published the Embodied Carbon Primer – an integrated resource for designers, developers, and policy makers – to supplement its Climate Emergency Design Guide. The primer starts with the big picture – how embodied carbon thinking fits into a whole life carbon perspective. It introduces whole life net zero carbon best practice targets for 2020, 2030, and beyond, as well as present business-as-usual baseline values. The bulk of the document is a diverse and interrelated set of appendices on embodied carbon issues and analysis, including: How to talk to your client, Rules of thumb by building component, Designing for manufacture and assembly, and Offsetting, among others.

From the report:

“This document is intended to provide designers, including architects, engineers, interior designers, urban designers with easy-to-follow best practice and toolkits for reducing embodied carbon in buildings. The document can also aid planners to be aware of strategies available to designers to reduce embodied carbon in building design, and how planning recommendations on materials, massing and treatment of sites may affect embodied carbon. For everyone working in the construction of buildings the leap of knowledge and skill required to be able to fulfil this goal is still relatively large, but far from insurmountable….

Operational carbon is based on the flow of energy and needs to be generated through renewables. Constructing buildings uses energy as well as resources, and once a building has come to the end of its life, these resources are still potentially available for use. Thus in addition to reducing embodied carbon we must consider the resources as a ‘store’ rather than a ‘flow’ and buildings should be thought of as ‘material resource banks’.”

The London Energy Transformation Initiative (LETI) is a network of over 1000 built environment professionals that are working together to put the UK on the path to a zero carbon future. The voluntary group is made up of developers, engineers, housing associations, architects, planners, academics, sustainability professionals, contractors and facilities managers, with support and input provided by the GLA and London boroughs. Elementa Consulting have initiated and coordinated LETI as they were frustrated that the current energy policy in London wasn’t driving design solutions that encouraged long term carbon emissions reduction. LETI was established to work collaboratively to put together evidence-based recommendations for two pieces of policy – the new London Environment Strategy and the rewrite of the London Plan.

Access the Primer