Aug 2, 2021

CLF Material Baselines Updated – July 2021

Newly Updated Version of the 2021 Carbon Leadership Forum Material Baselines Report Published

Architects, engineers, and builders are often faced with the challenge of choosing products or materials and evaluating their relative embodied carbon impacts alongside a host of other factors. 

Early this year, the CLF published the 2021 Carbon Leadership Forum Material Baselines to support decision makers and their efforts toward embodied carbon reduction by providing information on the typical embodied carbon of construction materials, and the expected range and variability within a category. Instead of providing a single number, the CLF baselines help users understand the range of values and find opportunities for improvement and goal-setting throughout a project: from early design approximations to final evaluation and benchmarking. The publication highlights three values (low, typical, and high EC estimate) for each product type representing the best available data on current manufacturing . The variation between the three values reflects differences in, for example, manufacturing practices, electrical grid mix, product ingredients or formulations, and supply chains.

Informed with estimates for low, typical, and high EC values for a product type category – in conjunction with material quantity information – designers, procurement officers, and policy-makers can get a better sense of where to focus their efforts, and can track changes over time.

The update

Since the last version of this report (2021 CLF Material Baselines, v 1.0), the following changes and improvements have been made including:

New categories: 

  • Concrete masonry units (CMU)
  • Steel wire and mesh
  • Steel decking
  • Aluminum extrusions
  • Thermally improved aluminum extrusions
  • Insulated metal panels (IMP)
  • Metal roof and wall panels

Updates to previous categories: 

  • Data cabling: reorganized to have three subtypes, based on industry and user input.
  • Glass mat gypsum sheathing: updated to reflect a new IW-EPD, split to two subtypes based on thickness, and changed declared unit (1 m2 rather than 1000 m2).
  • Gypsum board: changed declared unit (1 m2 rather than 1000 m2).
  • Resilient flooring: updated the “typical” value to better reflect the range of products, and to correct previous over-weighting of one industry-wide EPD.

Methodology and documentation updates: 

  • Method 3 includes an additional path for establishing the high baseline value based on the industry average value and an uncertainty factor to account for variation.
  • The new Method 4 establishes values for a product type with limited data by using another very similar product type as proxy. 
  • The Scope section notes an exception (for some foam insulations) to the general rule that the values here apply to A1-A3 impacts only

Be in touch

Have questions about these changes? Have industry expertise and want to engage with the CLF to inform future updates? Great! Please contact us at: clfinfo@uw.edu.

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