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Phlorum’s Embodied Carbon Design Tool

Posted on by phlorum

Embodied carbon in case-study dwelling

Embodied carbon in case-study dwelling

Phlorum has been busy assessing a range of building developments using our whole-life carbon footprinting design tool (PhloCO2). The tool has been developed in association with the University of Brighton, and one aspect of its output is the calculation of embodied carbon within a project, making recommendations for quantifying and acting on potential savings.

An embodied carbon assessment was carried out on a 4-bed house to be built in Brighton, designed by Landivar Architects. The dwelling is to achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, ensuring it will emit 44% less CO2 in operation than if built to 2006 Building Regulations. The tool revealed that embodied carbon within the dwelling’s initial design equalled 98 tonnes. By incorporating the tool’s suggestions of alternative, environmentally friendly materials (increased use of timber, and waste additives in concrete, for example), this could be reduced to 51 tonnes.

If all materials were locally sourced (i.e. within 20 miles), CO2 emissions embodied within transportation of materials would be nearly 2.5 tonnes. If materials were sourced within the region (i.e. average distance of 50 miles), this figure would be 6.5 tonnes, and if materials were sourced nationally (i.e. average distance of 200 miles), embodied emissions would be 36 tonnes.

If the property’s space heating and hot water demand was satisfied using natural gas, carbon emissions would total 6 tonnes a year, or 618 tonnes over a 100 year lifespan. If the demand was satisfied using biomass, and solar thermal and PV panels were installed on the roof, annual emissions would be 1.8 tonnes/year, or 177 tonnes over a 100 year lifespan (based on SAP 2005 emissions factors).

The model is the first developed to be used at the design stage, and will aid designers in understanding the environmental implications of their material specification. Uniquely, the model quantifies the carbon savings in enhanced specification, and can help in designing a whole-life, or ‘true’ zero-carbon home.