The Irish Green Building Council (IGBC ) is launching a two part programme to encourage builders and public bodies to do full carbon footprinting of their new buildings.
Currently developers and public bodies are only required to calculate the Build Energy Rating know as the BER for commercial and residential buildings. This gives the annual estimated energy use and carbon emissions from the operation of the building. This is only part of the environmental impact of the building, as the carbon emissions from the manufacture of materials and in the construction of the building are not measured. This is known as embodied carbon. These environmental impacts are very substantial and in some cases can make up a very large part of the overall impact of the building during its lifetime. This part of the impact will become even larger because all new buildings after 2020 must meet the Nearly Zero Energy Standard meaning the operational energy and carbon emissions will be much less.
There is a perception amongst building professionals that measuring the embodied carbon in buildings is too complicated and time consuming. They cite a lack of data provided by manufacturers. They also cite a lack of benchmarks for building embodied carbon similar to those provided by the BER scheme.
The Irish Green Building Council launched two programmes this week to address these issues. It launched an Environmental Product Declaration Programme which will allow Irish manufacturers and suppliers to declare the impacts of their products, by providing 3rd party verified statements called EPD. More information can be found at www.epdireland.org
The measurement of the full carbon footprint of a building is called a Life Cycle Assessment or LCA. Irish Green Building Council is participating in the Carbon Heroes benchmark program. This will allow building professionals, to quickly calculate the embodied carbon in a building through the One Click LCA software developed by Finnish LCA experts -Bionova. This software draws on established European databases of construction products and greatly simplifies the process of calculating the impact of the building.
IGBC, Norwegian state property organisation Statsbygg, and the Dutch Green Building Council have joined with the Carbon Heroes Benchmark program. The programme aims is to create embodied carbon benchmarks for buildings based on one thousand different projects.
Irish Green Building Council CEO Pat Barry stated ‘ We need to develop the same level of literacy amongst building professional around embodied carbon of buildings as has developed around the operational carbon and energy’
For more information on the EPD Ireland programme see here. www.epdireland.org
For more information on the Carbon Heroes Benchmark Programme see here.