Net Zero Carbon Vs. Whole Life Carbon

The built environment is responsible for 42% of carbon emissions in the UK. For homes, this is made up of ’embodied carbon’ and ‘operational energy’. However, it is often only the operational energy which is considered when people talk about ‘zero carbon’ buildings. 

Operational Energy is the energy used in the day to day running of a house, from heating and lighting, to cooking and using appliances. 

Embodied carbon is the energy required to produce materials and components, transport them to site, construct them and then maintain them over their life cycle. Many recent studies suggest that this can makes up roughly half of a building’s emissions over the course of its lifespan. 

Net Zero Carbon  Net zero carbon considers the operational energy demand vs. energy offsets, which can be calculated from a combination of on-site and off-site renewables. Net Zero carbon targets are therefore missing a huge proportion of the life cycle carbon impacts of our buildings. 

Whole Life Carbon To ensure we properly understand the impact of our buildings throughout their lifespan, we must analyse them over their full life cycle.