Embodied carbon performance gaps in timber production for the UK built environment: A brief review

Conference paper


Sanchez, J., Sumner, H., Ayati, B. and Chandler, A. 2023. Embodied carbon performance gaps in timber production for the UK built environment: A brief review. ICARB 2023: The 8th International ICARB Conference on Carbon Accounting. Edinburgh, UK 25 - 26 Sep 2023 EcoHouse Initiative Ltd..
AuthorsSanchez, J., Sumner, H., Ayati, B. and Chandler, A.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

The built environment contributes to nearly 40% of global carbon emissions. It is vital that the carbon footprint of building materials is accurately understood. Mass timber construction is widely assumed to be a sustainable approach to the building due to the regenerative and carbon sequestrating capacities of timber among others and is being increasingly employed to reach Net Zero by 2050. Performance Gaps are a widely accepted phenomenon in the Built Environment, with a strong focus on reducing operational gaps but far less consideration for embodied carbon gaps. Several studies have demonstrated shortfalls in the available carbon footprinting methods for analysing the full carbon flux at the point of extraction and the climate change potential of timber production. We highlight three key areas of performance gaps in the static life cycle assessment methods and realistic climate impacts. Firstly, sustainable forestry certification is opaque in its reliability and capacity to deliver regenerative forestry. Secondly, emissions from peat and the forest floor are not considered in static LCA models, yet contribute considerably to woodland carbon flux, and aerosol transfers. Thirdly, the radiative forcing of surface albedo change caused by landcover modifications. We propose further analysis to enhance the capacity of the construction industry to employ dynamic LCA modelling to limit its carbon emissions and recommend forestry activities.

Keywords Embodied Carbon; Forestry; Dynamic LCA; Carbon flux; Mass timber
Year2023
ConferenceICARB 2023: The 8th International ICARB Conference on Carbon Accounting
PublisherEcoHouse Initiative Ltd.
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Anyone
Publication dates
Online01 Oct 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted15 Aug 2023
Deposited07 Dec 2023
Journal citationpp. 204-210
Book titleProceedings of the 8th International ICARB Conference on Carbon Accounting: Measuring Net Zero: Carbon Accounting for Buildings and Communities
Book editorRoaf, S.
Finlayson, W.
ISBN9781916187658
Web address (URL) of conference proceedingshttps://icarb.org/2023-conference/papers/
Copyright holder© 2023, The Authors
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