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ASBEC releases issues paper about built environment embodied energy

ASBEC (the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council) has released an issues paper about built environment embodied energy, with the aim of delivering a comprehensive policy framework later this year.

The issues paper is being released, ASBEC says, to accelerate the creation of critical policies that will ensure an aligned, common, and comprehensive approach to also addressing upfront carbon emissions.

“Countries across the globe are working on decarbonisation strategies for their built environments,” ASBEC says. “While strategies to reduce emissions in the built environment have previously focused on operational emissions, there is a growing emphasis to also address embodied carbon due to the rapid decarbonisation of the electricity sector.”

Embodied carbon is defined as the embodied carbon emissions that occur upfront during construction from materials and site activities, in-use emissions from maintenance works, and end-of-life emissions. Out of these, upfront carbon is the most critical, because it is large (about 70 per cent of all embodied carbon) and cannot be changed, because once the building opens it has been spent.

Fact: the total amount of upfront emissions from construction activities is about 5 to 10 per cent of Australia’s total yearly emissions. These emissions are also difficult to eliminate.

ASBEC says Australia must tackle embodied carbon to achieve its net zero carbon emissions by 2050 target.

ASBEC aims to create this policy framework first by identifying the major issues and solutions that can create momentum for change.

The next step is selecting focus areas for effort rather than diluting effort across too many areas.

“This Issues Paper lays out how the built environment contributes to Australia’s carbon emissions and why we need to focus on upfront embodied carbon now,” ASBEC says. “Based on research findings from Australia and abroad, it highlights the issues that need to be addressed to successfully tackle embodied carbon and to achieve Australia’s commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

To read the issues papers, click here.

Image: Clement Falize via Unsplash.

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