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CIBSE launches embodied carbon toolkit

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has published the building services industry's first toolkit to enable engineers to calculate the embodied carbon associated with mechanical, electrical and public health systems in buildings.

CIBSE is in the forefront of efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the operation of buildings with existing publications on the design, specification and operation of building services.

Now, with the publication of Technical Memoranda  Embodied carbon in building services: A calculation methodology (TM65), CIBSE has enabled engineers to consider the carbon embodied in the building services systems to further reduce the environmental impact of a scheme.

Embodied carbon is associated with the extraction of materials, manufacture, repair, disassembly and disposal. Environmental product declarations (EPDs) are a standardised way of providing the embodied carbon and other environmental impacts of a product. But, because of the complexity of building services products and their supply chains, very few building services equipment manufacturers offer EPDs.

TM65 is not aiming to replace EPDs, but it will allow embodied carbon estimations to be made for building services products when no EPD is available.

TM65 includes: an introduction to whole life carbon and embodied carbon in building services; advice on how to use EPDs, when available; and guidance on how to calculate the embodied carbon of building services equipment when no EPDs are available.

The document was co-authored for CIBSE by Louise Hamot, Global Lead of Life Cycle Research at Elementa Consulting and Clara Bagenal George, an Associate at Elementa Consulting.

Importantly, TM65 provides a consistent approach to the way embodied carbon calculations for building services products are carried out and reported. Although the guidance is aimed primarily at engineers and consultants working in the UK and Europe the methodology developed can be applied to MEP products manufactured all over the world.

Anastasia Mylona, head of research at CIBSE, sees TM65 as an important first step for the building services industry: 'CIBSE now looks forward to facilitating the development of an embodied carbon database for MEP products, which will make it easier for CIBSE members to address this crucial challenge.'

Elementa’s Louise Hamot suggests that 'only through considering both embodied and operational carbon can we truly mitigate global warming’. In addition, Clara Bagenal George believes that TM65 can accelerate the adoption of whole life carbon thinking by engineers and manufacturers, saying: ’Hopefully, this guidance will move the industry towards a greater awareness of the whole life carbon impacts of MEP related decisions and will incentivise more EPDs for MEP products'.


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