Whole Life Carbon (WLC) emissions are those produced from both the construction and use of a building over its entire lifespan.
Although we have been measuring operational emissions from buildings for some time (i.e the impact of occupying and operating a building), Whole Life Carbon assessment gives us much better understanding of the impact of those emissions already ‘built in’. These embodied emissions can contribute 40-70% of total emissions in a new building.
Whole Life Carbon emissions include those operational emissions from regulated and unregulated energy use, and embodied carbon. Embodied carbon covers the carbon emissions from raw material extract, manufacture of products, transport of materials, construction, maintenance, repair replacement, demolition and disposal (see table at bottom of page).
Guidance and Benchmarking
The WLC reporting process is guided by the RICS ‘Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment’ Professional Statement (November 2017). The document sought to standardise whole life carbon assessments, and provides specific guidance on the methodology outlined in EN 15978.
The objective of a Whole Life Carbon Assessment is the mitigation of carbon impact throughout a project’s lifecycle. Whole Life Carbon reporting should allow future comparison of results and allow benchmarking and target setting. There are two primary benchmarks available to us at present – those provided within the RICS Professional statement and those recommended by LETI (London Energy Transformation Initiative). These allow a client to see how their buildings perform in comparison to these benchmarks.
The RICS guidance states that it is mandatory to include substructure and superstructure in the assessment. The assessment can also include facilitating works, finishes, building services and external works if the information can be confirmed by the design team.
Life Cycle Stages
The tables below outlines the scope of a Whole Life Carbon assessment and refers to the emissions associated with the different life cycle stages. RICS guidance states that it is mandatory to include Stages A1-A5, B4 and B6 within a WLC assessment.