Carbon and construction share a complex relationship. As the race to develop purpose-led and futuristic built environments intensifies, addressing the issue of embodied carbon will be pivotal in the global fight against climate change.
At present, embodied carbon emissions produced by the global construction industry surpasses the transportation sector. With annual spending in the construction sector expected to reach more than USD30 trillion over the next three decades, the issue of embodied carbon is expected to worsen. Unlike operational carbon which can be mitigated through solutions like energy efficiency measures, government policies and carbon offset strategies, embodied carbon remains throughout a structure's asset life and is largely irreversible.
Instead of viewing sustainability as an afterthought, project developers and asset owners need to factor in embodied carbon emissions into their final design evaluations and procurement decisions. Harnessing the power of tech through digital solutions like Building Information Modeling (BIM), digital twin, and Common Data Environment (CDE) can help to accelerate and scale the reduction of emissions efficiently.
In this report, we take a closer look at the impact of emobodied carbon on global warming and highlight key strategies that developers can adopt to help reduce emissions for a greener, more sustainable built enviroment sector.
Tackling the issue of embodied carbon
Defending our climate with infrastructure
With the rise in global populations and large-scale urban infrastructure developments, it is imperative to adopt a carbon-conscious approach towards project planning and execution in the infrastructure sector. By implementing low-carbon strategies, the construction industry has the potential to offset nearly 5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent(tCO2e) embodied carbon emissions annually.
More than 80% of embodied carbon is emitted during the material production and transportation stages, making them key areas of focus when it comes to reducing carbon footprint in infrastructure projects.
Locally, the Singapore Green Building Council's Singapore Built Environment Embodied Carbon Pledge aims to accelerate the decarbonisation of the built environment sector by helping to unify and amplify industry action.
Digital pathways to net zero
Despite being one the of the largest industries globally, the construction sector has poor digital adoption rates. To achieve significant change, developers and asset owners must embrace innovation. Tapping on technological advancements like digital twin, 3D printing and robotics can help the sector formulate robust carbon reduction solutions for the long run.
A collective call
The industry can deliver change through improved awareness around embodied carbon, paving the way for structured policies, initiatives, contracting processes and the monitoring of emissions. This will also require a collective shift in stakeholders’ mindsets, leadership orientations and governance across the project value chain.