The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) has set out the building services industry’s first toolkit to calculate the embodied carbon associated with mechanical, electrical and public health systems in buildings.
CIBSE has been pioneering the reduction of carbon emissions from the operation of buildings with its publications on the design, specification and operation of building services. Now, with Technical Memoranda Embodied Carbon in Building Services: A Calculation Methodology (TM65), the organisation will enable engineers to consider the carbon embodied in building services systems to minimise the environmental impact of a scheme even further.
Embodied carbon is associated with the extraction of materials, manufacture, repair, disassembly and disposal. Environmental product declarations (EPDs) are a standardised way of providing the embodied carbon and other environmental effects of a product. But, because of the complexity of building services products and supply chains, few building services equipment manufacturers offer EPDs.
TM65 is not intended to replace EPDs, but it will allow embodied carbon estimations to be made for building services products when no EPD is available.
TM65 includes: an introduction to whole-life carbon and embodied carbon in building services; advice on how to use EPDs, when available; and guidance on how to calculate the embodied carbon of building services equipment when no EPDs are available.
The document was co-authored for the body by Louise Hamot, global lead of life cycle research at Elementa Consulting, and Clara Bagenal George, an associate at Elementa Consulting.
TM65 also provides a consistent approach to the way embodied carbon calculations for building services products are carried out and reported. Although the guide is mainly for engineers and consultants working in the UK and Europe, the methodology developed can be applied to mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) products manufactured worldwide.
Anastasia Mylona, head of research at CIBSE, sees TM65 as an important first step for the building services industry. “CIBSE now looks forward to facilitating the development of an embodied carbon database for MEP products, which will make it easier for CIBSE members to address this crucial challenge.’
Hamot said that “only through considering both embodied and operational carbon can we truly mitigate global warming”. In addition, George believes that TM65 can speed the adoption of whole-life carbon thinking by engineers and manufacturers. She said: “Hopefully, this guidance will move the industry towards a greater awareness of the whole-life carbon impacts of MEP-related decisions and will incentivise more EPDs for MEP products.”
CIBSE is hosting a webinar on 25 February for people to gain more information on TM65 and its application.