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Working Group 2 – Evaluation

Working Group 2 – Evaluation (WG2) is consortium of knowledge experts contributing to the advancement of embodied carbon measurement and benchmarking for materials, building and infrastructure. The working group analyses the opportunities and challenges in using different methodologies for benchmarking embodied carbon, creating assets industry can use to better understand the current state of play. The current Chair of WG2 is Caroline Noller, CEO and Founder at The Footprint Company. The Co-Chair is Lauren Howe, Senior Materials Engineer at ARUP.

Over the past year, WG2 has produced a discussion paper reviewing the various quantification approaches to embodied carbon. It is not the intention of MECLA to indentify a preferred benchmark method. The aim is to provide a review of available options for benchmarking performance. The method that is preferred by a user will depend on the information they have available, the stage of design and consistency with other embodied  carbon calculation methods in use by the individual/organisation. 

To create this document WG2 was divided into four sub-task groups in order to:

  • Identify and map the hierarchy and relationship of relevant embodied carbon “Standards” & definition myth busting
  • Research empirical methods for benchmarking dealing with all methods of LCA for ease of benchmarking in the user context
  • Define best suited “comparable” units suitable at a material and building scale, compare to current practice
  • Compile an inventory of calculation tools and life cycle inventory data and profile suitability to Australia

Embodied / Upfront carbon measurement and benchmarking is in a dynamic state, which is evident from the information presented in this document. 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.