How to Reduce Embodied Carbon Within Your Organisation
What is Embodied Carbon?
Embodied carbon refers to the total amount of carbon emissions that are associated with the production, transportation, and installation of a product or building. This includes all the emissions that are generated during the extraction, processing, and transportation of raw materials, as well as the emissions that are generated during the manufacturing, construction, and delivery of the final product or building.
Embodied vs Operational Carbon
Embodied carbon is considered a scope 3 emission because it encompasses the entire life cycle of a product or building, from raw materials to end-of-life. Scope 1 emissions are those that are directly generated by a company’s own operations, such as the burning of fossil fuels in a factory. Scope 2 emissions are those that are generated by the consumption of electricity, such as the power used to run a building. Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions can be referred to as Operational Carbon and are easier to influence/control or reduce. Scope 3 emissions or embodied carbon are those that are generated by the entire supply chain of a product or building, including the extraction and processing of raw materials, the transportation of goods, and the disposal of waste.
Examples of Embodied Emissions
Embodied carbon can be found in many different sectors, including manufacturing, education, commercial real estate, and government. For example, in the manufacturing sector, embodied carbon can be found in the production of steel and concrete, which are commonly used in building construction. In the education sector, embodied carbon can be found in the construction and operation of schools and universities. In the commercial real estate sector, embodied emissions can be found in the construction and operation of office buildings and shopping centers. And in the government sector, embodied carbon can be found in the construction and operation of public buildings and infrastructure.
Why Reducing Embodied CO2 Is Critical…
Reducing embodied carbon is important in achieving net-zero emissions, which is the goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degree Celsius. This is because embodied carbon emissions are often difficult to abate, as they are generated throughout the entire life cycle of a product or building. Therefore, reducing embodied CO2 emissions will require a comprehensive approach that focuses on all aspects of the supply chain, from the extraction and processing of raw materials to the transportation and installation of the final product or building.
Six Ways to Reduce Embodied & Operational CO2
There are several specific ways that companies can reduce or eliminate scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions from their business operations.
- One way is to use low-carbon materials, such as wood, instead of high-carbon materials, such as steel and concrete.
- Another way is to use renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, to power their operations and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
- Companies can improve the energy efficiency and power quality of energy supply into their buildings and operations, which will reduce the amount of energy required and the associated emissions
- Companies can also implement energy monitoring and energy management systems to continuously identify further opportunities to conserve energy
- Companies can work with their suppliers to reduce the emissions generated by their supply chain and set targets for reducing embodied carbon emissions and/or work exclusively with suppliers that have a commitment to achieve Net Zero (across Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions)
- Lastly, any residual hard-to-abate emissions such as pre-existing embodied carbon, companies can consider purchasing arbon offset certificates where investment is made in clean energy projects and development of natural or constructed carbon sinks etc
In conclusion, embodied CO2 is the total amount of carbon emissions associated with the production, transportation, and installation of a product or building. It is a scope 3 emission and can be found in many different sectors. Reducing embodied CO2 is important in achieving net-zero emissions as it is often difficult to abate. Companies can take steps to reduce embodied and operational carbon emissions from their business operations by using low-carbon materials, producing and procuring renewable energy, improving energy efficiency and power quality, working with suppliers to reduce emissions and purchasing carbon offsets.
For holistic, end-to-end solutions and support in reducing Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissions within your organisation, Connect with trusted Net Zero experts 3E Group today.