Lifetime carbon true measure of building emissions

The building industry needs to move away from carbon saving calculations focused on embodied carbon only and instead focus on lifetime carbon emissions for a true representation of emissions.

This is part of the response from Metals NZ Chief Executive Rick Osbourne to an apartment developer’s claims of carbon savings from using timber versus concrete in an article published on BusinessDesk on 12 October 2022

In the article Rick also points out that the procurement process needs to consider longer-term solutions that optimise material design and that consider the specific NZ challenges, of earthquakes, fire and flooding.

Considering timber as a carbon-sequestering material has long been a point of contention among industry experts and policymakers, with debate largely revolving around the effect on emissions from varying forestry and harvesting practices, and the end-of-life considerations of the material.

Differences in these practices can result in big differences in the amount of carbon sequestered.

Rick suggests that the construction industry’s recycling and waste recovery also needs to be addressed as part of its move to a low-emissions economy, noting that 85% of steel ‘waste’ is now recycled or repurposed.¬† ¬†Aluminium products could also be recycled indefinitely.

Furthermore, the concrete industry is working to decarbonise and has reduced emissions by 15% since 2005, with lower-carbon concretes coming on stream and introduction of the industry’s net carbon-zero roadmap to 2050 early next year

Ultimately, engineers and architects should be left to select the “appropriate material” for low carbon resilient construction.

You can view the full article BusinessDesk on 12 October 2022