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Embodied Carbon Estimator Tool Launched

Published on by Dr Paul Beckett

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Brighton and Hove City Council is to launch in partnership with Phlorum Environmental Consultants an Embodied Carbon Estimator Tool, for new housing plans; the first city council to do so.
From the 6th July 2011 the Embodied CO2 Estimator Tool will be included within Brighton & Hove City Council’s 2011 Sustainability Checklist for Planning; the first time any council has adopted this kind of tool as part of planning application requirements. Estimations of embedded carbon will accompany submitted plans for new housing developments.
Use of the Embodied CO2Estimator Tool signals a heightened focus from the city council on the overall carbon associated with developments. Allowing them to go even further in their aspiration to deliver low carbon development.
Brighton & Hove are breaking from the mainstream, as planning authorities usually only focus on carbon emissions resulting from energy use and not the embedded carbon of their construction. Typically, authorities focus on reductions in emitted carbon dioxide as a result of energy use arising from the building’s operation. This is also the focus of building regulations, which are ramping up to deliver zero carbon development by 2016. However, the national approach ignores the carbon emissions resulting from the production of construction materials.
Although Brighton & Hove require low carbon design in terms of energy use in occupation; the tool facilitates a more dynamic approach by estimating the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacture of key materials (embodied CO2). As such the tool enables a more comprehensive interrogation of carbon impacts.
The Embodied CO2 tool is a light version of a life cycle CO2 tool that has been developed by key partners Phlorum combined with their development partners, the University of Brighton’s Sustainability Team), whom promoted this as an integral sustainability indicator.
The aim of the tool is to encourage housebuilders to consider the use of lower carbon building materials and components when specifying and designing buildings. This could include higher levels of recycled steel; or timber frame as opposed to concrete. The aim is to facilitate lower embedded carbon construction; an important aspect of Brighton & Hove’s planning policies .
The user is asked basic structural design questions including the approximate size of the development, height and numbers of floors. From this the tool estimates a simplified benchmark based on common housing design specifications given in tonnes of embodied carbon dioxide. The user can then choose from alternative materials specification and construction types to deliver a lower carbon building. With each choice made, the effect of the choice on embodied carbon can be seen.
Feedback from local architects and planning consultants in Brighton & Hove has been extremely positive; with 63% of those trained in the tool stating they thought the new tool would definitely help deliver more sustainable buildings in Brighton & Hove. Adoption of the tool complements and supports Brighton & Hove’s placement within the top three most sustainable cities in Britain, which scored third place in The Sustainable Cities Index 2010.
The tool’s customisation was provided by integral partner and leading environmental consultants Phlorum. Phlorum combined its sustainability expertise with those of Sustainability Professor (Andrew Miller) and his team at Brighton University, in order to develop the tool.
The adoption of this tool heralds Brighton & Hove City Council as pioneers, pursuing the highest standards of sustainability and setting the tone for future housing planning submissions. Ultimately, paving the way for other city councils to follow.
Amy Kennedy – Deputy Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council and Cabinet Member for Planning, Employment, Economic Development & Regeneration:
“It is exciting to introduce this groundbreaking new tool and work with developers to deliver more sustainable buildings in the city. This tool means we can address carbon emitted from the construction of buildings as well as carbon emitted throughout their occupation.
The tool makes it easier for developers to design environmentally-friendly buildings. We already have a great collection of sustainable buildings and this is another step in our ambition to make Brighton & Hove one of the greenest cities in the UK”
Richard Schofield – Director at Phlorum:
“The Embodied CO2 Estimator Tool is a simplified version of our in-house life cycle estimator tool, but it shows a great step forward for Brighton & Hove City Council as a beacon council in the step to reduce the embodied carbon in our buildings.”
Notes for the Editor
Phlorum is a leading, Sussex based, environmental consultancy. Phlorum provide specialist multidisciplinary environmental solutions to support the public and private sector, assessing any environmental challenges affecting their business.
Phlorum is managed by Paul Beckett, Director and Richard Schofield, Director, and has been in operation since November 2003.
Key services within the environmental consultancy portfolio include; sustainability in developments, air quality reporting, ecology assessments and Japanese knotweed eradication.
Phlorum are BS OHSAS 18001, ISO9001 and IS014001 accredited.
If you require further information please contact ust:
01273 704449 or email:

About the author: Dr Paul Beckett

Dr Paul Beckett - picture

Dr Paul Beckett is one of the UK’s leading experts in Japanese knotweed and is a member of the Expert Witness Institute. He regularly provides Japanese knotweed expert witness services. He helped produce the RICS knotweed guidance for surveyors and was integral in the formation of the Property Care Association (PCA) Invasive Weed Control Group (IWCG).

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