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Embodied carbon

Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the manufacture, use, maintenance & upkeep, replacement and ends of life of a product and its constituents. It is only one part of whole-life carbon impact. Whole-life carbon impact is what should matter for designers. The durability of masonry means that the period over which the impact of the product is considered should be in excess of 100 years. Furthermore during the operational phase masonry can deliver carbon savings in heating and cooling (see Thermal Mass).

Every effort is made to reduce embodied carbon by producers. By choosing masonry, designers can also help minimise carbon emissions by choosing long-lasting materials. And for designers who maximise the use of thermal mass there is further reduction of carbon emissions.

Producers have minimised embodied carbon through a range of factory energy initiatives and their choice of mix of constituents. The cement industry has played a major role by reducing the embodied carbon of their products, as shown in [their annual performance report].

Find out more about low carbon homes using concrete and masonry.