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Upfront Carbon in the Built Environment

We are excited to share with you that the long awaited discussion paper for MECLA’s Working Group 2 is now on our website. The Chairs and Committees of WG2 thank all of the participants of WG2 for their input and efforts in constructing this document.

Embodied / Upfront carbon measurement and benchmarking is in a dynamic state, which is evident from the information presented in this document. Although the practices have been developing over the last two decades, the declaration of the Climate Emergency has transformed the environment for this practice and science. The objective of this paper is to document the dynamic aspects in all parts of the method at the level of materials, whole building and infrastructure.

A critical goal for the sector is to evolve measurement approaches that allow for consistent, comparable and reliable benchmarking – or sufficient capacity in the sector to make adjustments to achieve suitable comparability. The goal of “apples for apples” comparability has been central to cost consulting aims for decades.  The development of operating carbon measurement and benchmarking has also evolved over a decade. For the industry to succeed in achieving deep reductions in a timely manner, measurement and metrics are essential.

NABERS is currently working on the technical development of a framework to assess the upfront carbon rating of buildings. This is expected to include a the scope of what will be included in the assessment, the calculation method to quantify the emissions of building materials, and the approach to a certification process consistent with other existing NABERS certifications. The core technical elements of the NABERS framework are expected to be released for public consultation later in 2022. The NABERS framework is focusing on the specific issue of comparing and reducing the upfront carbon of whole buildings and how this should be structured to support accurate benchmarking of outcomes. There is cross over between NABERS work and the content of this WG2 discussion paper – both informing the other. NABERS and GreenStar technical members have participated in this working group.

It is clear that more investment at all levels of government and industry is of merit – we ask that you consider the questions posed in the survey and provide helpful input – which is framed within the context of MECLA’s core mission of: – reducing barriers to entry and action – increasing uptake of embodied carbon mitigation at all scales – enabling the industry to take action on all fronts.