#COP26 Presentation Embodied Energy, Embodied Carbon Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technical Framework Sourcebook


Moduloft is committed to the Entry Level budget homeownership Market. Delivering affordable Homes and the means to Finance them literally without costing the earth.
Moduloft is Green by design, and Affordable by design , we are experts in materials passports, Energy based economics and Placemaking.
We do have questions though regarding the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals and whether financial products are being developed for our Customer price point.
This coming week we will publish a series of discussion papers surrounding the question. Is 21st Century Britain, in 2021, going to be a Home Owning democracy or a Rent seeking Banana Republic?
#COP26 Presntation Embodied Energy, Embodied Carbon Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technical Framework Sourcebook
#COP26 Presentation
1. Land Tax, Carbon Pricing
2. Money, Debt Credit Creation
3. Mortgage Reform

Moduloft is committed to the Entry Level budget homeownership Market. Delivering affordable Homes and the means to Finance them literally without costing the earth.
Moduloft is Green by design, and Affordable by design , we are experts in materials passports, Energy based economics and Placemaking.
We do have questions though regarding the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals and whether financial products are being developed for our Customer price point.
This coming week we will publish a series of discussion papers surrounding the question. Is 21st Century Britain, in 2021, going to be a Home Owning democracy or a Rent seeking Banana Republic?

#COP26 Presntation

Embodied Energy,

Embodied Carbon

Building Information Modelling


Technical Framework Sourcebook



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@threadreaderapp unroll

• • •

Options for incorporating

embodied and sequestered

carbon into the building

standards framework

Report prepared by Aecom for the Committee on Climate



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Quality information

Prepared by Checked by Verified by Approved by

Zac Grant

Pratima Washan

Pratima Washan David Ross Pratima Washan

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change


Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Prepared for:

Committee on Climate Change

Prepared by:

Pratima Washan

Associate Director, Sustainability

T: +44 (0)20 3009 2242

M: +44(0)78 2335 5515

E: pratima.washan@aecom.com

AECOM Limited

Aldgate Tower

2 Leman Street

London E1 8FA

United Kingdom


© 2018 AECOM Limited. All Rights Reserved.

This document has been prepared by AECOM Limited (“AECOM”) for sole use of our client (the “Client”) in

accordance with generally accepted consultancy principles, the budget for fees and the terms of reference

agreed between AECOM and the Client. Any information provided by third parties and referred to herein has not

been checked or verified by AECOM, unless otherwise expressly stated in the document. No third party may rely

upon this document without the prior and express written agreement of AECOM.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change


Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Table of Contents

1. Summary of options identified ................................................................................................................... 5

2. Introduction ............................................................................................................................................... 7

3. Context, drivers & approaches to addressing embodied and sequestered carbon in buildings ................ 9

4. Options for driving down lifecycle carbon through regulations and voluntary codes ............................... 19

5. Bibliography ............................................................................................................................................ 22

Appendix A ............................................................................................................................................................ 23


Figure 1: Summary of options and indicative timeframes for driving down lifecycle carbon (including embodied

and sequestered carbon) in new buildings .............................................................................................................. 6

Figure 2: Modular information for lifecycle assessment as per EN 15978 including typical system boundaries

[source: RICS 2017 Figure 2]. ................................................................................................................................. 8


Table 1: Materials credits available in BREEAM 2018 and the Home Quality Mark Beta ...................................... 10

Table 2: Examples of environmental improvement approaches at different scales ............................................... 15

Table 3: Standards landscape for embodied carbon assessment (source GLA et. al. 2013 & RICS 2017)........... 24

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change


Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

1. Summary of options identified

Historically, the building regulations framework has focused on setting standards around operational energy and

related carbon emissions from new buildings. There is potential to reduce carbon emissions further, by expanding

the framework to address and drive down the lifecycle carbon associated with buildings. In addition to

considering operational emissions, this requires consideration of the embodied carbon associated with the

manufacture, transport, maintenance and disposal of building materials and components, and the potential to

increase the amount of sequestered or stored carbon in buildings 1 . There is a growing interest in lifecycle carbon

associated with new buildings, with relevant policies being introduced or under consideration in Germany,

Netherlands and France among other countries.

In early 2018, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) commissioned research on the costs and benefits of

introducing tighter standards for new buildings, 2 and as part of this commissioned AECOM to investigate options

for incorporating embodied and sequestered carbon into the standards framework for new buildings in the UK.

This paper sets out the findings of AECOM’s options study, which involved literature review and selective

stakeholder engagement. It sets out the current context, drivers and approaches for addressing embodied and

sequestered carbon in the planning and design of new buildings in the UK and internationally (whether through a

lifecycle approach or through assessing embodied and sequestration impacts separately). This is followed by a

rationale for and summary of options to drive reductions in lifecycle carbon in new buildings in the UK.

The paper does not per se focus on the merits of using certain materials, such as timber. 3 The paper focuses on

how lifecycle emissions can be addressed through the building standards framework or voluntary codes with a

view to inform the upcoming review of regulatory standards (and ongoing work through the Construction Sector

Deal and Transforming Construction Challenge Fund). This is not withstanding the range of other policy

measures that could, or already do, deliver some or part of the intended outcomes, e.g., carbon pricing, Climate

Change Levy and Climate Change Agreements etc. A range of factors including resource/material availability /

scarcity, cross-sector competition for resources, relative cost-effectiveness, and trade issues should influence the

overall policy mix for addressing lifecycle carbon in UK buildings.

The three alternative policy options for addressing embodied and sequestered carbon (as part of an overall

approach to reducing lifecycle carbon) identified through this work are presented below, and a summary with

indicative timescales is shown in Figure 1.

• Option 1 – Voluntary action & Government leads by example through procurement: This involves a

number of parallel streams including promoting action to address lifecycle carbon in the construction sector

(e.g. by setting non-binding sector targets and monitoring changes in the lifecycle carbon impact of new

buildings over time) and requiring government-funded building projects to quantify and reduce this impact

(e.g. by specifying a number of the relevant BREEAM and Home Quality Mark (HQM) credits to be achieved

where assessments are already mandatory) alongside maximising sequestration. Voluntary action could also

include lobbying for embodied and sequestered carbon assessment to become a mandatory issue in


• Option 2 – Whole-life elemental carbon intensity targets: Elements, product types and material

substitutions with the highest lifecycle carbon savings are identified, accounting for supply chain

dependencies (construction sector capacity, domestic capacity, effect of materials source, etc.). Whole-life

carbon intensity limits are set in building regulations for these elements, product types and materials, initially

near levels met by incumbent options, along with a trajectory for progressive tightening of standards. The

targets would need to consider the thermal performance of the building elements (including heat loss and

thermal mass impact) to ensure that trade-offs between embodied and operational carbon are accounted for.

A shift to Option 3 can be made if and when necessary to drive further savings.

• Option 3 –Whole building lifecycle carbon intensity targets: A scheduled introduction of whole building

lifecycle carbon intensity targets in building regulations could be considered. This will involve working with

the construction sector and professionals to develop the corresponding regulatory tools and calculation

method as well as capacity building for building control officers. Targets can be progressively tightened to

drive increased carbon savings.

1 See appendix for definitions of embodied and sequestered carbon.

2 Currie Brown and AECOM (2019) The costs and benefits of tighter standards for new buildings

3 The importance of timber in construction as a route to sequestering more carbon in the built environment is discussed in the

CCC’s 2018 report Biomass in a low-carbon economy.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Some groundwork to enable assessment and benchmarking will be required in parallel or preceding each of

these options and is common across all of the policy options discussed. This includes establishing a standardised

approach to carbon quantification of new buildings, a national LCA/EPD database, along with steps to bridge the

skills gap in this area.

Broadly mandatory targets are likely to be more effective in addressing lifecycle carbon and encourage

innovation in the sector compared to voluntary action, though this is dependent on the level of ambition for

mandatory targets and, on the other hand, the wider policy drivers and/or actions taken to promote voluntary

action. Overall there is limited evidence currently to draw robust conclusions on the most effective approach.

There are a series of low-regret actions that can however be progressed to lay the groundwork for a future policy

intervention, with a decision point indicatively in 2020 on the long-term regulatory framework. Option 1 could be

implemented in parallel to the groundwork with a view to encouraging early action, and facilitating project level

data and learning. An increase in the number of assessments, driven by voluntary codes and/or planning

requirements, along with standardised approaches to assessment can be used to establish carbon intensity

benchmarks and targets across new building archetypes. The ambition for the voluntary action could also be

revised with time to reflect the policy development under Options 2 & 3.

Figure 1: Summary of options and indicative timeframes for driving down lifecycle carbon (including

embodied and sequestered carbon) in new buildings





Voluntary action led

by Government


Building regulations whole- life carbon intensity targets


Whole building

Groundwork Option 1 Option 2 Option 3

2019 National

product/material &

building LCA/EPD


Expand building LCA

database &

benchmark across


Develop overall and

sectoral strategies

Commence groundwork and Option 1 as low-regret actions

Monitor sectoral

carbon intensity targets

Standard, simplified

Lobby for mandatory

LCA for new


Decision buildings



Require government


Build professional & funded projects to Establish targeted elemental

industry capacity

consider and minimise

the contribution of

embodied and

sequestered carbon to

lifecycle carbon

impacts (e.g. by

2021 making relevant Introduce elemental carbon


credits mandatory)

intensity targets

Opt for Option 2 or Option 3 as the preferred option


Develop regulatory methods

and tools

Develop regulatory (e.g.

building control) capacity

Establish whole building

method and scope



Maintain LCA / EPD

Progressively tighten intensity


Develop regulatory

methods and tools

Develop regulatory (e.g.

building control) capacity

Introduce whole building

carbon intensity targets


Potentially introduce whole

building targets

Progressively tighten

intensity targets

Legend: LCA = lifecycle analysis; EPD = Environmental Product Declaration; BREEAM = BRE Environmental

Assessment Method; HQM = BRE Home Quality Mark; Element = e.g. structure, façade, roof, etc.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

2. Introduction

2.1 Purpose

Historically, the building regulations framework has focused on setting standards for the operational energy and

carbon savings from new buildings achieved through a combination of energy efficient design of building fabric

and services, and integration of renewable energy technologies. There is potential to reduce carbon emissions

further, by expanding the framework to address and drive down the lifecycle carbon associated with buildings

incorporating both embodied and sequestered carbon. The embodied carbon emissions of buildings can be as

much as two-thirds to three-quarters of the total whole life emissions (RICS, 2017 4 ). Actions that reduce wholelife

embodied carbon – without increasing operational carbon emissions – could represent a substantial carbon

abatement opportunity that remains largely untapped by the UK policy agenda to date. There is also potential to

increase the amount of sequestered or stored carbon in buildings (also referred to as ‘embedded carbon’; see

definitions in Section 2.2), e.g. through the use of wood in construction.

This paper sets out the findings of an investigation into how embodied and sequestered carbon could be

incorporated into building standards or voluntary codes. It forms part of a wider programme of research on the

potential for using wood and bioenergy resources for construction (published alongside this work) and on the

costs associated with setting tighter standards for new build properties (due to be published early 2019).

2.2 Terminology

The term ‘embodied carbon’ is straightforward to define in concept, e.g. as “emissions aris[ing] from producing,

procuring and installing the materials and components that make up a structure… includ[ing] the lifetime

emissions from maintenance, repair, replacement and ultimately demolition and disposal” (RICS 2017). However,

in practice an operative definition of the term depends on the precise scope (or ‘system boundaries’) of a

particular carbon accounting exercise. This has led to the use of qualifications on the general term ‘embodied

carbon’, the most common being ‘cradle to gate’ and ‘cradle to grave’, that aim to give a clearer idea of the

assessment boundaries.

EN 15978 establishes a standardised framework for defining and presenting lifecycle or whole-life carbon

information applicable to environmental impacts including embodied and sequestered carbon (see Figure 2, page

8). Under this framework (which is currently under review), sequestered carbon is part of module A1 –A3

(Product stage) and C1-C4 (End of Life stage).

Other key terms are defined in Appendix A - Terminology.

The global warming potential (GWP) associated with embodied carbon is one of a number of environmental

impacts 5 addressed in lifecycle analysis (LCA), which can be applied at a material, product, elemental, or whole

building level. As such, this paper often treats embodied carbon as a subset of LCA and assumes drivers,

standards, tools, etc. for LCA indirectly serve the same role for embodied carbon.

2.3 Methodology and structure of the paper

The paper is based on a literature review and selective stakeholder engagement. Key documents that have

influenced the paper are listed in the Bibliography and stakeholders interviewed are listed in Appendix A. The

following sections summarise:

the current context, drivers and approaches for considering embodied and sequestered carbon in the

planning and design of new buildings in the UK and internationally; and

a rationale for and summary of options for addressing embodied and sequestered carbon (as part of an

overall approach to reducing lifecycle carbon) in new buildings in the UK.

4 RICS, Whole life carbon assessment for the build environment, Nov 2017, Figure 1

5 Environmental impacts in LCA are considered under impact categories. Information is most commonly presented for at least

the following 5 impacts: climate change (GWP), acidification, eutrophication, stratospheric ozone depletion, and photochemical

ozone creation. Other impacts include: abiotic resource depletion (covers primary energy and water resources), human toxicity,

ecotoxicity, land use, ionising radiation, and (rarely) particulates.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Figure 2: Modular information for lifecycle assessment as per EN 15978 including typical system

boundaries [source: RICS 2017 Figure 2].

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

3. Context, drivers & approaches to

addressing embodied and

sequestered carbon in buildings

This section examines the context, drivers and approaches to addressing embodied and sequestered carbon in

buildings, whether through a life cycle approach or through assessing embodied and sequestration impacts

separately from consideration of operational emissions.

3.1 UK context, drivers & approaches to date

The construction and housebuilding sectors are currently subject to a range of existing drivers to quantify and

reduce the lifecycle carbon emissions in new buildings taking into account the embodied and sequestered carbon

in the building materials. These come from:

1. The planning system – Lifecycle Green House Gas (GHG) emissions need to be considered under current

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations; planning authorities also have the option to address

lifecycle GHG emissions associated with buildings through local planning policy including any local offsetting


2. Central Government – The use of BREEAM 6 is required for government-funded new non-domestic buildings

but achieving credits based on LCA are not mandatory in the scheme. See section 3.1.2 below for more

details on BREEAM requirements. (Embodied and sequestered carbon is not considered under current

Building Regulations.)

3. Corporate bodies (voluntary action) – Commitments to address lifecycle GHG emissions may be made by

developers and construction clients (including national and local government, other public sector

organisations and large companies), with targets based on voluntary codes such as BREEAM or on bespoke

metrics. Under carbon reporting frameworks – including UK mandatory reporting regulations, and voluntary

frameworks such as CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) and

others – participants have the option to report embodied and sequestered carbon in goods and services

under ‘scope 3’ emissions.

The planning system, voluntary environmental assessment methods, and underpinning LCA standards and tools

are the main things currently shaping how embodied and sequestered carbon is addressed in the UK, and each

is discussed further below.

Addressing embodied and sequestered carbon through planning

Lifecycle analysis of new buildings (incorporating embodied and sequestered carbon) is not currently covered by

national standards. Planning authorities may however choose to address them to suit local circumstances,

subject to policies being based on sound evidence tested through the plan-making process.

The Embodied Carbon Industry Task Force (2014) recognised a number of ways that embodied carbon could be

addressed at the planning stage of new developments, which remain valid today under an essentially unchanged

planning system. In general, planning provides the following levers that can be used to ensure that developers

consider embodied carbon (and where relevant sequestered carbon) as they are preparing development


Environmental Impact Assessment – specifically the transposition into UK regulations of the revised EU

directive on Environmental Impact Assessment gives greater prominence to addressing lifecycle greenhouse

gas emissions associated with new development. Good practice in this regard is set out by IEMA (2017). As

a result, where planning authorities require an Environmental Impact Assessment of a new development

(depending on type and scale of development), the assessment should now include consideration of lifecycle

greenhouse gas emissions.

Planning policy – The scope and rigour of how planning policy addresses lifecycle GHG emissions from

buildings varies by local authority. The Task Force report listed examples 7 of planning authorities with

policies addressing embodied carbon (whether independently or as part of a lifecycle approach). These are

6 BREEAM is the BRE Environmental Assessment Method, which can be used to assess the environmental performance of

non-domestic buildings based on assessment criteria covering nine environmental topics:

7 Brighton and Hove, Huntingdonshire, Eastleigh, and Dundee County Councils, Leeds City Council, and the London Borough

of Wandsworth.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

generally broad requirements for developers to demonstrate that embodied carbon has been addressed,

which can be satisfied by anything from very general statements (e.g. a tick-box on the Brighton & Hove

Sustainability Checklist) to voluntary submission of a whole building LCA study as supporting evidence within

a planning application. The GLA (Greater London Authority) Draft London Plan (2018) recently introduced a

requirement for whole lifecycle carbon emissions assessments for developments referable to the Mayor. This

covers operational emissions and embodied emissions including emissions associated with maintenance

and end of life disposal.

Carbon offset schemes – a major focus of the Task Force recommendations was the potential for embodied

carbon to be an ‘Allowable Solution 8 ’ under zero carbon building regulations that at the time were expected

to be introduced in 2016 for homes and in 2019 for non-domestic buildings. Note that sequestered carbon is

not specifically mentioned in the Task Force recommendations. Reference is however made to EN16449 for

calculating the emissions factor for timber which allows for sequestered carbon to be taken into account for

wood and wood-based products. Although the Government did not take this policy agenda forward, local

planning authorities retain the scope to introduce similar ‘carbon offset schemes’, as demonstrated in

London in response to London Plan policies. The offset scheme instituted by the London Legacy

Development Corporation, for example, includes embodied carbon savings as an eligible measure that can

be used to offset the residual on-site carbon emissions from new developments.

Some advantages of promoting activity through planning are that action can be taken before there is nationwide

agreement on standards and benchmarks. Indeed, the data generated through planning-related actions can

contribute to the evidence base required for subsequent national regulations and standards. The planning system

(alongside corporate commitments and government targets applied to publicly-funded construction) also remains

one of the main mechanisms for setting targets under voluntary sustainability codes (e.g. BREEAM and HQM).

BREEAM and the Home Quality Mark

BREEAM is the main sustainability assessment method used in the UK for voluntary assessment and labelling of

the sustainable design and construction of new non-domestic buildings. Following the withdrawal of the Code for

Sustainable Homes 9 , the BRE Home Quality Mark (HQM) is likely to emerge in an equivalent role for new homes.

BREEAM and HQM adopt similar approaches to rewarding actions (by awarding credits or points) to reduce the

lifecycle environmental impact of materials based on:

1. The application of LCA, which addresses a wide range of lifecycle impacts 10 of materials including

embodied carbon; and

2. The procurement of products with recognised environmental product declarations (EPDs) and

procurement policy (HQM only).

The relevant issue headings and references to the sections setting out criteria and assessment guidance

covering embodied carbon in BREEAM and HQM are set out in Table 1. Note that neither of the criteria is

mandatory to achieve a particular BREEAM or HQM rating.

Table 1: Materials credits available in BREEAM 2018 and the Home Quality Mark Beta

Issue heading

Issue ID / Criteria

BREEAM 2018 11

HQM Beta

Building lifecycle assessment Mat 01 19.02 crit 5 & 6

Procurement policy and product

environmental information

Mat 02 19.01 crit 1 – 4

8 Allowable solutions was the name given to the prospective offsetting mechanism proposed in relation to the withdrawn zero

carbon homes policy to address residual carbon emissions after all on-site saving measures had been taken.

9Treatment of embodied carbon in the Code for Sustainable Homes was similar to contemporary treatment in BREEAM (i.e. as

an aspect of wider LCA and using the Green Guide to Materials Specification).

10 BRE environmental profiles use a total of 13 categories with resource depletion split into minerals, fossil fuels and water,

ecotoxicity split into ‘to water’ and ‘to land’ components, waste added as a distinct category, and particulates and land use


11 SD5078: BREEAM UK New Construction 2018

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Important features of the way that BREEAM and HQM currently address lifecycle carbon are:

1. Embodied carbon is addressed as part of LCA and criteria align with a range of LCA standards

underpinned by European, international and some UK-specific standards.

2. The minimum scope of the LCA in terms of lifecycle stages to be covered is set in terms of the lifecycle

stages defined in BS EN 15978:2011 (see Figure 2) as Stage A: A1 – A3 (cradle to gate). Stages B (use)

and C (end of life). These stages must be covered to the extent enabled by the BRE-recognised LCA

tool used (i.e. the scope for the use and end of life stages is flexible). LCA analysis could be expanded

to include Stage D but is not essential.

3. The scope of building works included and excluded from the assessment is clearly defined based on the

RICS New Rules of Measurement classification system. The scope of the LCA to achieve credits that

involve benchmarking the performance of the design is limited to defined elements of the superstructure.

The substructure and hard landscaping elements are assessed separately to avoid benchmarking being

skewed by site-specific factors (sloping sites, buildings with / without basements and external parking,

etc.) Building services are also assessed separately

4. The majority of credits in BREEAM (for the main non-domestic building types: offices, retail, and

industrial) can be achieved on submitting quantitative LCA data, which is converted into Ecopoints 12 and

compared with benchmarks.

5. The majority of credits in HQM (beta) are based on calculated performance, again in terms of Ecopoints,

with distinct benchmark 13 performance scales for houses (detached or terraced / semi / clustered) and

apartments (low or high rise).

6. Both BREEAM and HQM reward procuring more than a certain number of products with EPDs based on

the rationale that this encourages more construction product manufacturers to produce and register

EPDs for their products, which increases the amount of product-specific LCA data available.

7. BRE provides simplified calculation tools, to ensure that most credits are attainable by design teams

without the need for potentially costly expert LCA support, while also maintaining a system to recognise

expert tools suitable for more advanced LCA that is generally necessary to achieve more demanding

credits, including what are referred to as ‘innovation’ credits.

LCA standards, tools and practice guidance

Most approaches to addressing lifecycle impacts of buildings (including embodied and sequestered carbon) are

underpinned by a number of standards defining LCA practice. A range of tools and databases are available that

enable standards-compliant calculations to be undertaken based on design information and construction bills of

materials. A list of relevant standards is included in Appendix A and explanatory documents (e.g. RICS (2017),

GLA (2013)) are listed in the Bibliography. The main thing to note is that there is a comprehensive range of

emerging standards and a broadening competitive market for LCA calculation tools suitable for both LCA

professionals and less expert users, such as building design team members. The remaining practical difficulties

for LCA relate less to the availability of procedural standards and calculation tools and more to standardising their

application, particularly the required scope of LCAs in terms of the lifecycle stages and the parts of the building

covered, to enable effective benchmarking and target setting.

A lack of standardisation can be seen in the variations in scope suggested or required for LCAs in different

sources of practice guidance, most notably from:

1. The Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) guidance for environmental impact

assessment of GHGs – gives advice on “key common components” but “does not recommend a

particular approach” or scope;

2. RICS professional standards and guidance – requires that LCAs cover as a minimum A1 – A5, B4

Replacement (for facades) and B6 Operational energy, for a defined subset of substructure and

superstructure elements; the guidance encourages that assessments where possible, account for all

components relating to the project across all life stages.

12 “A UK Ecopoint is a single score that measures total environmental impact as a proportion of overall impact occurring in the

UK. It is calculated by taking [normalised impact data], applying a weighting factor to each impact and then adding all the

weighted impacts to give a total – The Ecopoints”. BRE Green Guide FAQ https://www.bre.co.uk/greenguide/page.jsp?id=2089.

13 “The home’s impact benchmark is a reference of average environmental impact for a home in the UK as calculated using an

IMPACT compliant tool and average construction data for homes built since 2006. The unit used for comparison is BRE

Ecopoints (based on a range of EN 15804 indicators) and national average occupancy for the type of home being assessed.”

BRE. HQM Beta Manual.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

3. BRE for BREEAM and HQM – requires that LCAs cover the ‘product’ (A1 – A3), ‘use’ (B) and ‘end of

life’ (C) stages (see Figure 2) to the extent enabled by the LCA tool used, for a defined subset of

superstructure element; additional credits can be achieved if LCAs also cover substructure and some

core building services elements.

The lack of standardisation makes it harder to assemble LCA data suitable for comparison and benchmarking of

embodied carbon performance of buildings.

3.2 International approaches

The study looked internationally for examples of the use of regulation and voluntary mechanisms to address

lifecycle carbon in construction with a view to identifying advanced approaches or potential alternatives to those

currently in place in the UK.

Embodied and sequestered carbon in regulations

The study looked for policy instruments that are in force or in prospect 14 addressing embodied and/or

sequestered carbon separately or as part of lifecycle analysis, in the EU, North America, and Australia. Whilst not

a comprehensive list, the following regulations were identified:

1. Germany, BNB assessment for new federal buildings – This assessment and rating system developed in

partnership with the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB, based on their voluntary scheme

known by the same abbreviation) became mandatory in 2011, initially for office buildings. Like DGNB

(discussed below), parts of BNB are fundamentally based on a whole building LCA, which is therefore

integral to obtaining certification. DGNB and BNB are enabled by a national LCA /EPD database and

bespoke calculation rules, including weighting of scores for different environmental impacts to produce a

single overall environment impact score for benchmarking and comparison against performance limits.

The system boundary for the LCA covers the ‘product’ (A1 – A3), ‘use’ including operational energy use

(B1 – B4 and B6), and ‘end of life’ (C3 and C4) stages, plus ‘benefits and detriments beyond the system

boundary’ (D). Refer to Figure 2 for a description of LCA stages.

2. Netherlands, Building Decree 2012 – Article 5.9 on sustainable construction has required LCA

calculations covering GHGs and resource depletion for new homes and non-domestic buildings over

100m 2 since 2013. Calculations are enabled by a national calculation methodology and LCA / EPD

database. The system boundary covers all stages from A to D excluding operational energy and water

use (B6 and B7).

3. California, Buy Clean California Act – Requires the Department of General Services: by January 2019,

to set maximum global warming potential limits (carbon intensity limits) for the following materials in

public works contracts: (1) Carbon steel rebar. (2) Flat glass. (3) Mineral wool board insulation. (4)

Structural steel; from July 2019, to set facility-specific upper limits on the carbon intensity of eligible

materials (at or below the previously determined maxima) and require successful bidders to submit a

current, ISO 14025-compliant (or similarly robust) Type III Environmental Product Declaration to show

that the limits are not exceeded. Prohibits the installation of non-compliant materials. Requires review of

the carbon intensity limits by January 2022 and every three years thereafter.

4. France, future regulation of lifecycle carbon – As follow-up to the commitments made at the COP21

meeting in Paris, the French government drew up a law, the French Energy Transition for Green Growth

Act, which among other things enables “by 2018…the implementation of an ambitious environmental

standard for new buildings” 15 . The government partnered with industry and expert bodies to develop and

launch a trial scheme in 2016 named E+C- (energy positive, low carbon) to test the feasibility of new

performance targets and related assessment methods. E+C- establishes two levels of performance for

lifecycle GHG emissions. The evaluation includes the ‘product’ and ‘construction process’ (A), ‘use’ (B)

and ‘end of life’ (C) stages. France also has a national LCA / EPD database, and it is against the law to

make environmental claims about construction products in the absence of a published EPD.

5. Finland, prospective regulation of embodied carbon of building materials – Finland has set out a

roadmap to integrate embodied carbon emissions of building materials into building regulations, with

limits for all buildings from 2025. Calculations would be based around EN 15978 but further details of

the methodology are still to be developed. The prospective methodology would first be tested on publicly

procured building projects on a voluntary basis. Embodied carbon requirements would then be

introduced for residential towers before being extended to all building types.

14 Only includes policy instruments with a definite timetable or steps taken toward implementation; broad commitments to work

towards greater use of LCA, e.g. for government procurement, are not included.

15 http://www.batiment-energiecarbone.fr/en/trial-scheme/background/

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6. Switzerland, municipal requirements for carbon footprinting – A number of Swiss municipalities require

developers to calculate the carbon footprint of new developments. Targets are established based on

consistency with the vision of the 2000-Watt Society as reflected in Standards published by the Swiss

Society of Engineers and Architects: SIA 2031 Energy Certificate of Buildings (2009), SIA 2032 Grey

Energy of Buildings (2010), SIA 2039 Induced Mobility (2011) and SIA 2040 SIA Energy Efficiency Path

(2011). The lifecycle assessment data that underpins these calculations in based on ecoinvent 16

database and accounts for sequestered carbon in materials.

Given the limited number of examples identified, our conclusion is that while interest in embodied and

sequestered carbon in new buildings is growing, few countries are currently addressing it in their building

regulations, mirroring the current position in the UK. Where progress is being made, the focus has been on

approaches underpinned by European and global standards and (in Europe) by an enabling framework usually

including a national LCA database and calculation methodology. In both Germany and the Netherlands, the LCA

calculation methodology for national use has been adopted from the dominant voluntary environmental

assessment method.

The California example stands out in not taking a whole building approach. The legislation is intended to drive

decisions on materials sourcing with limits set to exclude the use of high embodied carbon sources of bulk

construction materials, likely to include Chinese materials that currently have relatively high cradle-to-gate

embodied carbon. This example clearly shows that the use of performance limits, particularly at material and

product levels, has potential direct trade implications. Similarly, lifecycle carbon limits (after accounting for

sequestered carbon) at the elemental scale could have direct implications for competition between alternative

design solutions (e.g. timber vs. steel or concrete frame). Such effects need to be carefully considered.

Embodied and sequestered carbon in voluntary codes

Voluntary building sustainability assessment and labelling systems with international applicability or influence

include the UK’s BREEAM, US’s LEED, Germany’s DGNB, France’s HQE, and Australia’s Greenstar schemes.

There is a lot of similarity in the way that these national schemes currently address embodied, sequestered or

lifecycle carbon, and also some notable differences.

All of the schemes reward the undertaking of a whole-building LCA (addressing embodied carbon as one aspect

of broader lifecycle impacts of materials), but only DGNB makes LCA mandatory. DGNB and BREEAM award

points based on pre-established LCA performance benchmarks. BREEAM sets benchmarks based on overall

ecopoints 12 . DGNB addresses 5 of the 9 LCA impact areas including global warming potential (which is broken

down into separate embodied and operational emissions components) and sets a minimum performance

backstop and a points scale relative to absolute reference performance benchmarks for each impact. The other

schemes reward a mixture of process, indirect indicators of performance improvement, and auto-benchmarking;

for example awarding points for:

quantifying impacts using LCA one or more times during design and construction;

selecting a minimum number or proportion of products with Environmental Product Declarations, i.e. with

quantified lifecycle impacts;

studying options for reducing lifecycle impacts and showing that impacts have been reduced through the

design process relative to baseline impacts established for a baseline design.

It is also worth mentioning that the Dutch localisation of BREEAM, BREEAM-NL, uses shadow prices to convert

LCA impacts in a range of different units into a single quantity for benchmarking (by contrast with weightings

based on expert opinion, as used for UK ecopoints). This shadow price approach is made possible by the

existence of a national dataset on shadow prices for a wide range of environmental impacts.

These national schemes take a variety of approaches, though there is no evidence of relative effectiveness of

these in driving reductions in lifecycle carbon for the buildings assessed.

In addition to these national schemes the EU has developed Level(s)

a voluntary reporting framework that provides a common "sustainable" language for the

buildings sector: a set of simple metrics for measuring the sustainability performance of

buildings throughout their life cycle. Level(s) encourages life cycle thinking at a whole building

16 Ecoinvent is an international lifecycle inventory database used in Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product

Declarations (EPDs)

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level… and covers energy, materials, water, health and comfort, climate change and life cycle

cost and value.

Within the ‘Thematic Area’ of Life cycle environmental performance and under ‘Macro-objective 1: Greenhouse

gas emissions along a buildings life cycle’, Level(s) includes the calculation of the ‘Life cycle Global Warming

Potential’ of a building. Level(s) establishes the methodology for calculation and reporting of sustainability

indicators for buildings but does not set performance limits, benchmarks, or characterise or label overall

performance. Level(s) has been developed with broad input from the developers of national voluntary building

environmental assessment methods such as BREEAM, HQE & E+/C-, DGNB, etc., with the aim of developing a

common set of building sustainability metrics across Europe. The methodology was developed in 2017 and is

currently under test phase.

3.3 Classification of approaches and relevant precedents

As well as reviewing the range of past and current approaches summarised above, the study considered past

and current approaches to addressing other issues including operational energy and carbon, water, ozone

depletion, health impacts, etc. There are potential parallels between the challenges initially faced in tackling other

environmental issues and those facing embodied and sequestered carbon now, e.g. variability in building and

construction product supply chains; initial lack of universally accessible but robust whole building calculation

methods and benchmarks; and so on. The study considered the applicability of these past approaches to

addressing lifecycle carbon, and in particular the lessons that could be learned from the history of regulation

covering the energy efficient design of buildings.

Classification and examples of environmental improvement approaches

Looking at the approaches that have been used to drive performance improvement in relation to buildings on a

range of environmental issues to date, a typology of approaches emerges:

Exclusion – Banning ‘things’ with unacceptably poor performance / impact;

Preference – Preferring ‘things’ with better performance / lower negative impact; and

Quantified performance (and limits) – Setting explicit, quantified limits that determine which ‘things’ are

acceptable / unacceptable.

The ‘things’ in question depend on the scale at which the performance improvement approach is applied and are

generally one of the following:

Material / ingredient – e.g. glass, steel;

Product – e.g. a glazed façade panel, a steel beam, a boiler;

Element / system – e.g. a building façade, a heating system; or

The whole building.

LCA can be applied at each of these scales in buildings. Examples of each type of environmental performance

improvement approach at each scale of application are set out in Table 2. Examples that address embodied and/

or sequestered carbon directly or via LCA are shown in bold.

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Table 2: Examples of environmental improvement approaches at different scales


Scale at which approach is applied



Material / ingredient


Element / system / subsystem

Whole building



Incandescent light bulbs

PU backed aluminium

Deleterious (e.g.

cladding systems


Unsustainable timber

C2C banned


GM foods


Materials preference


Scarcity index


Reward for choice of

materials with an EPD



Green product lists

(Greenbook live,

Green Guide to


Waste hierarchy

GLA heating and cooling


Passive design

Naturally ventilated



Recycled content

Recycled content


Whole building LCA

performance (and



Simplified Building

(BREEAM etc.)


BREEAM refrigerants

Window U-values

Assessment Tool

Bldg. Regs. Part L TER,

Boiler efficiency

BREEAM appliance

labelling, fan SFP, lamp

Wall/façade, roof, and

floor U-values

Heating system efficiency


Air permeability

Bldg. Regs. Part G water

efficacy, paint VOC, etc.

Lighting efficiency

use limit

Enhanced Capital

Private Rented Sector

Allowances lists


Exclusions – Pros and cons

The clearest examples of the use of exclusions for improving environmental performance are the banning (via

regulations) of refrigerants with high ozone depletion potential and of incandescent light bulbs, and restrictions on

the use of unsustainable timber (driven by planning and corporate policy and foreshadowed by criteria in

BREEAM and other voluntary assessment methods).

Pros – simple; relatively easy to apply and control; involves specifying what cannot be used, leaving

scope for innovation on lower impact alternatives.

Cons – potentially simplistic; potential for real or perceived perversities – some things allowed are /

appear more carbon intensive than some things excluded, or embodied carbon is / appears less critical

than other issues not considered; limited scope to reduce overall embodied carbon in buildings given the

number and diversity of construction materials, of which few (only the worst) things can be excluded;

hard to justify and implement if attempting to restrict a pervasive material (e.g. some uses of concrete).

The acceptability of using exclusions to drive improvement is likely to depend on the strength of the evidence for

the exclusion based primarily on:

1. The criticality of the negative impacts avoided, e.g. ozone depleting substances; or

2. The existence of cost-effective alternatives making the impacts of an obsolete product intolerable, e.g.

incandescent light bulbs.

The regulatory precedents show that it is possible to exclude materials and product types on environmental

grounds. Any trade-offs between embodied/sequestered carbon and carbon associated with operational energy

use and/or other environmental impacts would need to be considered upfront when determining any exclusions.

Exclusions aimed at reducing lifecycle carbon are likely to rely heavily on the existence of cost-effective

alternatives that make the impacts of incumbent products hard to justify.

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Preferences – Pros and cons

Many of the early approaches to addressing the embodied/ lifecycle impacts of materials were based on the idea

of materials preferences, which mainly work at the scale of materials, products, or building elements. The Green

Guide to Specification is a long-standing example of an elemental materials preference method, and ranks

elements such as window types, wall and roof constructions, etc. from ‘A+’ to ‘E’ based on overall impact

expressed in terms of ecopoints. BREEAM and many other voluntary schemes reward the selection of products

with EPDs (regardless of the actual impacts quantified), which is a form of preference at product level.

Pros – more scope to address embodied and lifecycle carbon impacts (compared to exclusions) as

preferences can be identified for as many materials, products, and elements as desired; effective way to

drive specific things, such as the use of wood for particular building elements such as superstructure or

wall / facade. 17

Cons – complex to set targets / compliance criteria as preferences for enumerated materials, products

and elements do not translate obviously into aggregate performance thresholds, (although the previous

BREEAM 2014 Mat 01 credit calculator – based on ecopoints – showed it is possible); requiring that

specific preferred materials / products / elements be used (prescription) makes for easy criteria but runs

against the grain of most current regulatory approaches; may be a barrier to innovation unless there are

mechanisms to quickly assess and add new products / elements to the preference system; and the same

materials from different sources can have different embodied, and therefore lifecycle, carbon impacts, so

may get perversities with complex, shifting supply chains.

Preference methods are potentially flexible. They could be used to broadly drive the use of preferred (in this case

low lifecycle carbon) materials / products / elements, as demonstrated by the use of the Green Guide to

Specification across multiple building elements in BREEAM prior to the 2018 scheme. However, the Green Guide

also shows that a lot of up-front analysis is required to rank the options to enable a preference method approach,

and application can be cumbersome as designers need to equate available products to the closest archetypes in

the preference method database to inform their decisions. As is the case for using exclusions, there would need

to be strong evidence on the relative performance of materials / products / elements on a lifecycle basis to justify

the use of preference methods in building regulations (ensuring that underpinning data is comprehensive and

unbiased). This study did not identify any examples of the use of such methods in regulations to date. However,

preference methods and hierarchies are commonly used in planning policy, where developers can be required to

justify in their applications any decision not to integrate preferred approaches in development proposals.

Examples include references to the waste hierarchy in local plans, and the GLA heating and cooling hierarchies

in the London Plan.

Quantified performance (and limits) – Pros and cons

Most of the current UK and international approaches to addressing embodied/ lifecycle carbon identified in

sections 3.1 and 3.2 involve the quantification of carbon based on LCA at whole building scale (Dutch Building

regulations, BNB/DGNB, E+C-, BREEAM, LEED) or at the material level (Buy Clean California Act). Voluntary

codes, which often foreshadow potential regulatory options, appear to be converging on whole building LCA as

the basis for driving reductions in embodied impacts. Only DGNB currently sets limits on embodied impacts at

building level. However, the Buy Clean California example shows that performance limits at a material level could

also work to drive improvement, and it is easy to imagine a similar approach applied at the product level (based

on EPD information, for example) and at the building element level (in a manner analogous to U-values).

Pros – quantification as part of every design should enable evidence-based, project-specific decisionmaking;

encourages optimisation and provides a framework for driving continuous lifecycle carbon

reduction towards a discoverable theoretical minimum; compatible with and potentially drives innovation;

whole-building calculations are flexible allowing trade-offs driven by e.g. overall cost-effectiveness.

Cons – currently requires expensive expert tools and expertise (although the BREEAM 2018 simple

building assessment and new third party tools such as One Click LCA are pitched to be usable by design

team members); time intensive; benchmarks are currently poor and / or not transparent and hence a

weak basis for baseline target setting (particularly at the level of products and building elements); difficult

17 The importance of timber in construction as a route to sequestering more carbon in the built environment is discussed in the

CCC’s 2018 report Biomass in a low carbon economy as well as the recent report by the Royal Society on Greenhouse gas

removals. Using timber in construction to both sequester carbon and displace high embodied carbon materials is one of the

best uses of sustainable biomass identified through the CCC’s analysis. The work concluded that up to 3 MtCO2e per year

could be stored if high levels of new residential units are built using timber frame systems. Comparable quantities may also be

stored through the use of engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), particularly in the non-residential

sector, although current levels of deployment of these systems are very low.

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to undertake analyses to a consistent scope and to validate this based on reported results, so could be

susceptible to ‘gaming’; risk that the focus is on the LCA process that requires activity but may not lead to

improvement (e.g. identification but not selection of lower embodied carbon options); current carbon

savings achieved through the LCA-based approach are not assessed for cost-effectiveness; identifying

cost-effective solutions would require assessment of a range of scenarios at the project level taking into

account the direct and consequential cost impacts (e.g. on choice of materials for other components, or

maintenance costs).

There are substantive differences in the merits and practicalities of applying quantified lifecycle impact limits at

the different scales (material, product, element, whole building). Below the whole building scale, it is fair to argue

that within a given category, different materials, products and elemental constructions are not drop-in substitutes

for each other. For example, using a wooden glue-lam vs. a concrete structure for a building is likely to have

knock-on design effects on other elements that would not be reflected in a narrow comparison of the embodied

carbon of the superstructure. As such, the construction products supply chain is likely to favour LCA at whole

building scale over material, product or elemental approaches. Conversely the potential to make large reductions

in lifecycle carbon) may be concentrated in relatively few substitution options at material, product or elemental

level. The Green Construction Board (2013) found that six “key material industries [represent] over 90% of total

supply chain GHG emissions: 1. Metals (steel); 2. Concrete and cement; 3. Timber; 4. Brick and ceramics; 5.

Glass; [and] 6. Plastics”. If so, it could be more efficient (in terms of analysis effort vs. carbon reduction) and

more effective (greater verifiable reductions from regulation) to apply limits to the materials, product types, and

elements that offer the greatest scope for lifetime carbon savings. The costs of administering any standards are

also a consideration. Whole building LCAs could be undertaken at individual building level, or at a project level,

with different approaches having different implications for the regulatory cost burden. In comparison, the use of

material, product or elemental embodied carbon limits would tend to incur initial and periodic costs in assembling

and updating the evidence base and setting performance thresholds, plus costs on the supply chain to establish

the performance of materials and products. There is potential for the ongoing costs to developers for

assessments on each building to be reduced for this type of standard. While there are pros and cons of both

approaches, a detailed cost benefit analysis may help inform the most effective route. Again different approaches

may be considered depending on size of project/ development.

Irrespective of whether the targets are set at product, elemental or whole building level, they would need to take

into consideration the relative thermal performance of alternatives (including heat loss and thermal mass impact)

to ensure that trade-offs between embodied and operational carbon are accounted for.

Learning from regulating operational carbon emissions at design stage

Introduced in 1985 (under the 1984 Building Act), Part L of the Building Regulations is the main regulatory

instrument for improving the energy efficiency of new buildings and reducing operational carbon emissions. One

of the routes for compliance under all versions of Part L up to 2006 was called the ‘elemental method’ and

involved meeting U-value limits for each building element: walls, windows, roof, ground floor, etc. alongside some

other limits on design such as the proportion of glazed area of the façade. Minimum boiler efficiency standards

were introduced in 2002, along with a switch from energy to carbon as the focus of the regulations, and in 2005 it

was effectively made compulsory for boilers to be of the more efficient ‘condensing’ type.

For homes, whole-house energy use calculations using SAP were cited as a compliance method as early as

1994, but only became the primary basis for demonstrating compliance with a limiting Target Emission Rate

(TER) in 2006, when Part L was radically updated, along with the introduction of a ‘notional building’ baseline. At

the same time, equivalent compliance criteria were introduced for non-domestic buildings with calculations

defined in a non-domestic simplified building energy model, SBEM. Since 2006, percentage changes to the TER

have become the main way of understanding the scale of improvement sought, in terms of reductions in carbon

emissions in Part L updates. Nevertheless, elemental performance limits have continued to play a role in Part L,

in the form of design ‘backstops’ for elemental U-values, boiler efficiency, etc.

Since 2010, one of the main issues when considering updates to Part L has been addressing the so-called

‘performance gap’ between design and as-built performance. In broad terms and on average, buildings once

constructed and in use have higher energy use and carbon emissions than expected based on design stage

calculations. Design changes during construction, poor construction quality, and shortcomings in the energy

models are likely to be contributory factors to the observed performance gap.

Linked to Part L was the ultimately cancelled Zero Carbon Homes agenda, which included allowable solutions –

essentially carbon offsetting. The Embodied Carbon Industry Task Force promoted embodied carbon as a

potential allowable solution. Among the issues they recognised needed to be resolved was that of ‘additionality’.

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Apparent carbon savings may not be additional if they simply move savings that would have happened anyway,

e.g. from one building project to another if a material substitution measure (e.g. use of PFA for cement in

concrete) is already using all the low carbon material available.

Considering the history of regulating operational carbon at design stage through Part L (where relevant

expressed in the terms introduced in Table 2 – exclusions, preference, quantified performance), the following

progression can be observed:

1. Use of elemental method (i.e. elemental performance (walls, roofs, etc.) and product (windows) and U-

value limits, etc.) as main compliance route;

2. Introduction of whole-building calculation methods as an alternative compliance route;

3. Use of product and elemental performance limits to effectively exclude existing options with poor

performance (e.g. non-condensing boilers);

4. Switch to a whole-building calculation as the main compliance route, retaining elemental performance

backstops; and

5. Focus on improving the robustness of the compliance calculation to close any gap between as-built

outcomes and design assumptions (addressing the quality of both the calculation and the construction


The approaches used and the progression from elemental to whole building calculations for regulating

operational energy use and carbon emissions could hold relevant lessons for considering how lifecycle carbon

might be effectively regulated.

3.4 Summary of mechanisms to address lifecycle carbon in


Reviewing the past and current UK and international landscape of voluntary incentives and regulations, and

considering parallels with regulation in other areas such as operational energy and carbon, the broad picture that

emerges is that:

1. Drivers for addressing lifecycle carbon, including embodied and sequestered carbon, in buildings in the

UK can come from: government, through regulations and mandatory rules on government procurement;

the planning system, including EIA, planning policy, and through offsetting schemes; and from voluntary

corporate commitments, which may relate to the use of any mix of corporate reporting standards,

voluntary building environmental assessment methods, and bespoke guidelines and targets.

2. Almost all approaches addressing lifecycle carbon in buildings at any scale are likely to rely on or refer

to underpinning standards on LCA and EPDs and make use of related calculation resources (e.g. LCA

and EPD databases) and tools.

3. Voluntary building environmental assessment schemes such as BREEAM and LEED are based on

‘whole building’ LCAs. The schemes are converging on requiring design teams to undertake standardsbased

assessments using dedicated calculation tools enabled by national and international LCA and

EPD databases.

4. The rare examples of regulations in Europe (Netherlands and prospectively France and Finland) are

following the lead of the voluntary schemes, adopting approaches based on LCA standards, calculation

methods and supporting LCA / EPD tools. In addition, Germany has demonstrated the co-option of a

voluntary scheme for government use (with the development of BNB from DGNB).

5. The California regulation example stands out as a different type of approach. It is focused at the

materials / product level on a narrow range of high embodied carbon materials.

6. Voluntary schemes retain non-LCA approaches to drive sustainable materials selection at the product

and building element levels. For example, BREEAM, LEED and some of the other schemes reviewed

reward the use of products with standards-compliant EPDs.

7. Voluntary schemes also retain vestiges of alternative approaches to comparing the embodied or

lifecycle impacts of materials, for example the BREEAM Simplified Building LCA tool is based on the

Green Guide to Specification used in previous versions of BREEAM, which labels construction types for

building elements (walls, roofs, floors, etc.) on a scale of A+ to E based on ecopoints 12 .

8. Looking generally at precedents for driving environmental performance improvements in buildings, three

broad types of approach can be identified: exclusion of specific things with the worst environmental

impacts; preference for specific things with better impacts; and the use of quantified limits as the basis

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for selection on performance. These approaches can be applied at the material, product, elemental, or

whole building scale, and the combination of approach and scale of application provides a useful

framework for mapping out the full range of options available for driving the reduction of lifecycle carbon

in buildings.

9. Exclusions are unlikely to be a practical way of driving significant carbon reductions, given the number

and diversity of construction materials and the weight of evidence needed to justify banning some

material uses outright. Preference methods and hierarchies have been used in planning policy and

voluntary building assessment methods, but it is not clear how such a mechanism, lacking clear

compliance criteria (e.g. in the absence of limits or targets on quantity or proportion of preferred

materials), would work in building regulations. This suggests that performance limits at material, product,

elemental or whole building scale are likely to be the practical options for driving significant carbon

reductions through building regulations.

10. The coverage of operational energy and carbon in building regulations shows a progression from

elemental performance limits (U-values, boiler efficiency, etc.), through the introduction of whole-building

calculations as an alternative compliance route, finally a shift to whole-building performance limits,

retaining elemental performance backstops, and a current focus on data / calculation and construction

quality and hence the robustness of calculated performance vs. outturn.

While the review identified a range of approaches to incorporating assessments of embodied and sequestered

carbon in voluntary or mandatory frameworks, it found no evidence about the individual or relative effectiveness

of either the regulatory approaches or the use of voluntary codes (based on the examples and assessment

methods discussed in Section 3) in actually reducing lifecycle carbon emissions in new buildings.

4. Options for driving down lifecycle carbon

through regulations and voluntary codes

4.1 Options identification and rationale

There is broad agreement that standards, supporting technical and professional resources and hence current

practice in the areas of embodied and sequestered carbon in UK construction 18 are relatively immature,

compared to those available to address operational energy and carbon. Commentators in the literature suggest

that the next steps in addressing lifecycle carbon in UK construction need to focus on developing the evidence

base, calculation resources, professional experience, and a convincing narrative framework as groundwork to

enable the introduction of regulations. Much of this commentary is based on the assumption that this should and

eventually will be addressed in regulations at a whole building scale 19 and it is recognised that standardised

approaches to LCA would be needed for this. Much of the research and commentary starts at a whole building

scale and assumes, often implicitly, that whole building quantification is a necessary part of reducing lifecycle

carbon associated with buildings. This perspective is reflected in the approaches being taken in voluntary building

environmental assessment methods such as BREEAM, assessment of federal buildings in Germany, building

regulations in the Netherlands, and the potential regulation being trialled in France.

In this context, one option for driving lifecycle carbon savings in new UK buildings would be to take steps towards

the introduction of regulations requiring whole building carbon calculations. Regulations could cover carbon

alone (including embodied and sequestered carbon) or as part of LCA. Taking this route would not necessarily

mean introducing such regulations immediately. In fact there would likely be a need for certain groundwork before

regulations would be practicable. Addressing lifecycle carbon in the planning system, and government

collaboration with industry on the development of calculation tools and resources (following the French E+Cmodel)

could be part of laying the necessary groundwork.

The framework of LCA standards, guidance on professional practice, and to some extent even environmental

assessment methods like BREEAM focus more on the consistent quantification of environmental impacts than on

the potential to reduce impacts. There appears to have been little or no study to date of the effectiveness of a

whole building approach in saving carbon, the cost-effectiveness of savings driven at a whole building level, or

comparisons in these terms of a range of alternative approaches for addressing lifecycle carbon in buildings. The

literature typically focuses on the immaturity of LCA and limitations of data, tools, standardisation, established

18 E.g. Giesekam, J. et. al., 2016; De Wolf, C. et. al., 2017

19 Albeit with a constrained scope in terms of the parts and level of detail in the building covered

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benchmarks and skills as barriers to wider uptake of whole-building approaches. A limited review of buildings

subject to whole building carbon analysis or broader LCA showed that only modest actions were taken on

materials substitution, increased use of recycled materials, etc. achieving modest reductions in embodied carbon.

This suggests that the requirement to carry out an LCA itself may not deliver the intended benefits though whole

building analysis inherently allows for more flexibility in choosing options to reduce lifecycle carbon. It is also not

clear exactly how benchmarking of the range of outcomes for current design practice should be translated into

carbon intensity targets for new buildings in a way that would drive significant design and construction changes,

for instance the substitution of wood for high-carbon alternatives such as steel, bricks or concrete.

An alternative to starting with whole building carbon regulations is illustrated by the progression of regulations

addressing operational energy and carbon, particularly in Building Regulations Part L. Part L began by driving

achievable improvements in elemental efficiency standards for new buildings through the setting and periodic

tightening of elemental performance limits (U-values, boiler efficiency). This produced some notable changes in

the types of products and elements that could be used, e.g. from unfilled to filled cavity walls, single to double

glazing, and from standard to condensing boilers. After these major shifts in construction practice, as the absolute

improvements between Building Regulations iterations became smaller and the cost curve for further savings

became steeper, Part L moved to a whole building calculation method 20 , which provides greater flexibility to

designers and developers to achieve increasingly stringent emission targets in the way they find most costeffective

and otherwise acceptable in terms of design, construction and supply chain considerations, etc.

Regulations to reduce lifecycle carbon could similarly begin by setting elemental carbon intensity targets and

successively tightening these to achieve major changes in construction practice, either through material

substitutions (e.g. from high-carbon steel, bricks, and concrete to wood, etc.), or through material efficiency

improvements that deliver equivalent elemental performance improvements, where possible. If the largest and

most cost effective lifecycle carbon savings options can be clearly identified and related to building elements, this

approach could be a relatively simple and cost-effective way to deliver them. The carbon intensity limits could be

set such that trade-offs are allowed between elements and with operational targets, as long as the overall

lifecycle emissions are lower. This approach allows efforts to be focussed on the most carbon intensive elements/

materials in buildings, while allowing flexibility to expand the remit to include other less carbon intensive building

elements/ components over time. Further carbon savings could then be driven by shifting to a whole building

calculation later if necessary, and once the enabling groundwork is in place. This represents a second option for

introducing regulations addressing lifecycle carbon. A detailed cost benefit analysis may help inform the most

effective option for various scales of projects/ development.

Based on the evidence reviewed as part of this study, it is not clear whether a whole building approach, an

elemental approach, or some combination of the two offers a better mandatory route to incentivise uptake of the

largest or most cost-effective lifecycle carbon savings that can be addressed through building design and

construction. Further work and engagement would need to be undertaken to determine this.

A final broad option would be an approach that does not involve regulation but relies on other direct and indirect

levers for promoting changes in construction practice. This could include strengthening and consolidating the

existing voluntary framework, coupled with public sector leadership in procurement. The Government

could lead the construction sector by example, following the example of Germany, which effectively requires LCA

for the main types of federal buildings, which must be assessed under the federal equivalent (BNB) of the

voluntary DGNB assessment method. The UK Government could achieve a similar outcome by requiring

buildings procured with public money and already subject to mandatory BREEAM targets to achieve a specified

number of credits under BREEAM issue Mat 01, and could require lifecycle carbon (including embodied and

sequestered carbon) to be addressed when funding national infrastructure. The Government could promote the

use of voluntary building environmental assessment methods by the construction sector to address lifecycle

carbon, and make the case for the relevant Mat 01 credits in BREEAM and issue 19 in HQM to be made

mandatory. The scale of savings achieved would then depend on the uptake of voluntary schemes such as

BREEAM & HQM and the performance benchmarks they adopt.

Common to all of the options identified here, is the need for the Government to work with the

construction sector and professions on the groundwork to enable effective project-level carbon

assessment and benchmarking.

One reason for going down a route that does not involve regulation addressing lifecycle carbon in building

design, could be a finding that greater (or sufficient) reductions in lifecycle carbon can be achieved more cost

20 The change to whole building target setting was driven by the European Performance of Building Directive so it is

coincidental that major changes in energy efficient design happened before the change.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

effectively at other points in the construction product supply chain or the wider economy. A range of factors

including material capacity / scarcity, cross-sector competition for resources, relative cost-effectiveness, and

trade issues should influence the overall policy mix for addressing lifecycle carbon in UK buildings.

4.2 Summary of options

Groundwork to enable lifecycle carbon assessment and benchmarking

Enhance the evidence and complementary narrative for addressing lifecycle carbon in the design of new

buildings. Establish a national LCA / EPD database for generic and manufacturer specific construction materials

and products. Consider how the databases would be maintained and updated regularly. Establish a standardised

approach to carbon quantification (and broader LCA) of new buildings. Increase the number of professionals

capable of using LCA tools to produce high quality, standardised assessment data for new buildings through

relevant accreditation schemes. Increase the number of assessments of new buildings undertaken, driven by

planning requirements, voluntary building environmental assessment methods, and standards of professional

practice for building design team members. Collate lifecycle carbon assessment data for new buildings, ideally

standardised, and use this to establish carbon intensity benchmarks and targets for new building archetypes.

Indicative timescale: minimum 3 years to have all groundwork in place (LCA / EPD database, simplified method,

industry skills depth, standardised benchmarks).

Option 1 – Voluntary action & Government lead by example through procurement

Promote action addressing lifecycle carbon in the construction sector, e.g. by setting non-binding sector targets

and monitoring changes in the lifecycle carbon in new buildings over time. Require government-funded building

projects to quantify and reduce lifecycle carbon e.g. by specifying a number of the relevant BREEAM and HQM

credits to be achieved where assessments are already mandatory. Lobby for LCA/ carbon accounting to become

a mandatory issue in BREEAM and HQM.

Indicative timescale: minimum 6 months to study, develop strategy and launch.

Option 2 – Whole-life elemental carbon intensity targets

Identify elements, product types and material substitutions with the highest lifecycle carbon savings (taking into

account embodied, sequestered and operational carbon), accounting for supply chain dependencies

(construction sector capacity, domestic capacity, effect of materials source, etc.). Set carbon intensity limits for

these elements, product types and materials, initially near levels met by incumbent options. Set a trajectory to

reduce the limits for each element and hence drive progressive changes in design choices, such as substitution

of wood for steel / bricks / concrete, and innovation in the construction products supply chain. Shift to regulation

based on whole building carbon intensity targets if and when necessary to drive further savings after industrywide

changes in design and materials selection corresponding to the main cost-effective carbon savings have

been made.

Indicative timescale: minimum 2 years to research, develop, consult and introduce new regulations.

Option 3 –Whole building lifecycle carbon intensity targets

Set a timetable for putting in place the necessary groundwork (above) to enable the introduction of whole building

carbon intensity targets in building regulations. Work with the construction sector and professionals to develop

the corresponding regulatory tools including a standardised calculation method. Develop the capacity of building

control officers to assess compliance with the proposed regulations. Introduce regulations based on whole

building carbon intensity targets. Progressively tighten targets to drive lifecycle carbon savings.

Indicative timescale: 3 year groundwork + minimum 2 years to develop, consult and introduce new regulations.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

5. Bibliography

Bundesministerium des Innern, fur Bau und Heimat. Bewertungssystem Nachhaltiges Bauen (BNB). Accessed 2

May 2018. https://www.bnb-nachhaltigesbauen.de/

Committee on Climate Change. Bioenergy Review. December 2011.


Committee on Climate Change. Biomass in a low-carbon economy, December 2018.


De Wolf, C, Pomponi, F, Moncaster, A. Measuring embodied carbon dioxide equivalent of buildings: A review and

critique of current industry practice. April 2017. Energy and Buildings 140 (2017) 68–80.


Embodied Carbon Industry Task Force. Proposals for Standardised Measurement Method and

Recommendations for Zero Carbon Building Regulations and Allowable Solutions. June 2014.



European Insulation Manufacturers Association (Eurima). Life Cycle Assessment of Buildings – A Future-proofed

Solution in the Digitalised World of Tomorrow. The Use of LCA for Environmental Building Assessment: A Vision

of the Future. White Paper. September 2017.


Green Construction Board. Low Carbon Routemap for the Built Environment. March 2013.


Giesekam, J, Densley Tingley, D and Barrett, J. Building on the Paris Agreement: making the case for embodied

carbon intensity targets in construction. September 2016. http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/103278/1/p35v2.pdf

GLA & Best Foot Forward Ltd. Construction Scope 3 (Embodied) – Greenhouse Gas Accounting and Reporting

Guidance. GLA. March 2013.



IEMA & ARUP. Environmental Impact Assessment Guide to: Assessing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and

Evaluating their Significance. IEMA. 2017.



Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties. Bouwbesluit [Building Decree] 2012. July 2013.


Poyry. Alternative Uses of Biomass in Decarbonising Industry – A report to the Committee on Climate Change.

CCC. December 2011.



State of California Legislative Council Bureau. Buy Clean California Act. Assembly Bill No. 262. Chapter 816.

October 2017. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB262

Stichting Bouwkwaliteit. Nationale Milieudatabase. Accessed 2 May 2018. https://www.milieudatabase.nl/

Brockmann, T. Sustainability and Building Materials within BNB. 2014.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Stephen Williams). Written

ministerial statement on Communities and Local Government – Building Regulations. March 2014.



WRAP. Embodied carbon database. Accessed 2 May 2018. http://ecdb.wrap.org.uk/Default.aspxZizzo Strategy

Inc., Brantwood Consulting. Embodied Carbon of Buildings and Infrastructure – International Policy Review.

Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. September 2017. https://www.naturallywood.com/resources/embodiedcarbon-buildings-and-infrastructure

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Appendix A


Embodied carbon

Embodied carbon is the impact on global warming due to the emissions of greenhouse gases associated with a

product or process. These emissions can be related to direct processing, transportation, generation of electricity,

processing of resources to make fuels. Embodied carbon is normally reported in terms of global warming

potential in units of kg carbon dioxide equivalents (kg CO2e). The term should not be confused with embedded


Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Global Warming Potential is a measure of the atmospheric radiative forcing caused by the emission of

greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with a production or process. Different GHGs exhibit different amounts of

radiative forcing and this can change depending on the time period considered. The most common way of

reporting GWP is over a 100 year period and this is often labelled as GWP100. The reporting units are kg carbon

dioxide equivalents (kg CO2e) or higher units of mass, such as tonnes, megatonnes, etc.

Sequestered carbon

Sequestered carbon refers to the quantity of carbon that is physically stored in a material. This carbon can be

biogenic or abiogenic in origin. In this report, sequestered carbon refers to biogenic carbon only. Sequestered

carbon can be reported directly in terms of carbon (kg C) or in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (kg CO2e).

One kg of embedded carbon is equivalent to 3.67 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents. Sequestered carbon is also

referred to as stored or embedded carbon, which can also be biogenic or abiogenic in origin.

Biogenic carbon storage

In the process of photosynthesis, the carbon atoms from atmospheric carbon dioxide are stored in the plant

material. This material can then be used in products in the economy. The biogenic carbon atoms are stored for

the lifetime of the products. This biogenic storage period can be lengthened by re-using or recycling the products.

If the products are finally incinerated at the end of life (or multiple lives) the carbon is oxidised to carbon dioxide

and returned to the atmosphere. Stored biogenic carbon can be reported as kg of carbon, or kg of carbon dioxide


Life cycle assessment (LCA)

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a technique for calculating and reporting on the environmental impact (including

carbon emissions) associated with the production, use, re-use/and or disposal of a product. Different life cycle

stages can be included in such an analysis and this must be explicitly stated when the system boundaries of such

an analysis are declared.

LCA standards

The landscape of key standards relevant to addressing embodied carbon assessment and LCA in buildings is

outlined in Table 3.

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks

Table 3: Standards landscape for embodied carbon assessment (source GLA et. al. 2013 & RICS 2017)





EN 15643-2

EN 15978: 2011

EN 15804: 2012 + A1: 2013

EN 16449: 2014

EN 16485: 2014

EN 16757: 2017

ISO 14025: 2006

ISO 14040: 2006

ISO 14044: 2006

ISO 21930: 2017

ISO/TS 14067: 2013

European International UK

EN 15643-2 ISO 14025: 2006 -

ISO 14040: 2006

ISO 14044: 2006

Voluntary building codes: e.g.

EN 15978: 2011 -

BREEAM 2018; Home Quality Mark


Professional codes: e.g. RICS

professional statement 2017

EN 15804: 2012 + A1:

2013 (under review)

ISO 21930: 2017 PAS 2050: 2011

EN 16449: 2014 ISO/TS 14067: 2013 Voluntary product codes: e.g. C2C

EN 16485: 2014

EN 16757: 2017

RICS professional statement 2017

PAS 2050: 2011

Stakeholder interviews

Framework for Environmental Performance

Sustainability of construction works – Assessment of environmental

performance of buildings – Calculation method

Sustainability of construction works – Environmental product

declarations – Core rules for the product category of construction


Wood and wood-based products. Calculation of the biogenic carbon

content of wood and conversion to carbon dioxide

Round and sawn timber. Environmental Product Declarations. Product

category rules for wood and wood-based products for use in


Sustainability of construction works. Environmental product

declarations. Product Category Rules for concrete and concrete


Environmental labels and declarations – Type III environmental

declarations – Principles and procedures

Environmental management – Lifecycle assessment – Principles and


Environmental management – Life cycle assessment – Requirements

and guidelines

Sustainability in buildings and civil engineering works – Core rules for

environmental product declarations of construction products and


Greenhouse gases – Carbon footprint of products – Requirements

and guidelines for quantification

Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment

Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas

emissions of goods and services

Rolf Frischknecht – TREEZE gmbh (Operating agent, Switzerland for IEA Annex 72)

Daniel Doran –BRE (BREEAM LCA expert)

James Drinkwater – Director, Europe, World GBC (advocacy and expert support for mainstreaming LCA in the

EU) & Natalia Ford – Sustainability Adviser, UK-GBC

Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



Options for incorporating embodied and sequestered

carbon into new build standards frameworks


Prepared for: Committee on Climate Change



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1/1 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305430798_Impact_of_embodied_carbon_in_the_life_cycle_of_buildings_on_climate_

Zero Waste in Architecture: Rethink, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

This article is sponsored by:

Written by Eduardo Souza

December 24, 2019


Human economic activities are naturally dependent on the global ecosystem, and possibilities for economic growth may be

limited by the lack of raw materials to supply factory and trade stocks. While for some resources there are still untapped stocks,

such as certain metals and minerals, there are others, such as fossil fuels and even water, with serious availability issues in many


It's undeniable that the construction industry has a significant impact on the planet. Enormous amounts of resources, materials,

water, and energy are exploited, processed, and consumed for the execution of a work and limited to the useful life of buildings.

The International Construction Council (Conseil International du Bâtiment - CIB) points out that civil construction is the human

sector that consumes the most natural resources and uses energy intensively. This impact is exacerbated by ine icient

production processes, considerable displacement of supplies, and excessive waste during various other stages of construction.

There are many issues to tackle to make our world more sustainable and e icient. But what is within our reach as architects?


It is true that humanity can no longer exploit environmental resources as if they were infinite and, above all, must stop generating

so much waste. Becoming more resource e icient is a way toward sustainable economic growth. That means less demand for

resources and energy as well as reduced waste generation. It's always wise to think that when speaking of our planet, there is

1/10 https://www.archdaily.com/928391/why-flexibility-and-material-reuse-are-key-aspects-of-sustainability

nothing that should be 'thrown away'. This mantra problematizes statistics showing that in Brazil, for example, construction

waste represents 50% to 70% of the total waste generated.

The concept of the Circular Economy seeks to change this paradigm. It is inspired by natural mechanisms that work in a

continuous process of production, resorption, and recycling, self-managing and regulating themselves naturally, where waste is

the input for the production of new products. Unlike linear economics, where a product is created, used, and then becomes

waste, in a circular economy it returns to the production process. This is how the relationship between economic growth and

increased consumption of natural resources can be broken through more e icient, intelligent, and sustainable processes.

2/10 https://www.archdaily.com/928391/why-flexibility-and-material-reuse-are-key-aspects-of-sustainability

In short, the circular economy pertains to the maximum utilization and correct disposal of recyclable and organic waste, as well

as the reduction (or even cessation) of the disposal of these materials to landfills. Also, and very importantly, it requires

increasing e iciency and developing new business models. It seeks to reduce ine iciencies throughout the product life cycle,

from raw material extraction to utilization, through more e icient resource management, maximizing product life, and

minimizing or ending waste generation.

Along the same vein, the concept of Zero Waste is already being approached by cities, events, companies, and others. According

to ZWIA (Zero Waste International Alliance), Zero Waste is “an ethical, economical, e icient, and visionary goal to guide people to

change their practices and ways of life to encourage sustainable natural cycles where all materials are designed to enable

recovery and post-consumer use.” Rethink, Reuse, Reduce, and ultimately Recycle. It is these 4 R's that embody the concept, and

which may be applicable to the running of a house, a city, a building, a country, and so on. Of course, they are applicable to

projects and constructions as well:

Rethink is about changing how you think about things. Break paradigms, include new materials and solutions, and reconsider

precedent. This category can range from rethinking merely aesthetic design decisions and minor luxuries to investing in more

sustainable practices that can impact the life of the building. These practices may include working with more local materials,

seeking to understand the most diverse design constraints, and finally making better, more informed decisions.

3/10 https://www.archdaily.com/928391/why-flexibility-and-material-reuse-are-key-aspects-of-sustainability

The idea of Reducing can also be highly complex. It can mean decreasing the amount of concrete in a structure by consciously

resizing it, or designing for lightweight systems that use less raw materials and fewer resources rather than heavy, dense

structures. It can also mean decreasing waste generation at the site by opting for dry building systems. Reducing may be

particularly e ective when the need for cooling or heating is eliminated by correctly specifying materials, or the carbon footprint

is significantly decreased by utilizing a material produced closer to the job site. Thinking about the entire life of the material is

also essential. How does it age, what is its best destination a er its useful life is over? Therefore, considering longer lasting

materials can be a wise decision.

But this issue of reduction may need to be applied to our cities as well. In fact, if we think of a more sustainable world, it needs to

go through cities, where more than half of the world's population lives and where more than 80% of all the world's energy is

consumed. In this sense, reduction may refer to the size of urban space, since compact cities concentrate diversity, opportunity,

knowledge and culture, optimizing the infrastructure connected by e icient transport systems.

4/10 https://www.archdaily.com/928391/why-flexibility-and-material-reuse-are-key-aspects-of-sustainability

Reuse can be addressed in the reuse of materials such as solid wood or even structural steel parts, coatings, glass, partition walls,

etc. It can also refer to the reuse of buildings for new purposes: transforming factories to o ices, hotels to dwellings, and so on.

Before demolishing and directing tons of rubble to landfills, and then beginning a construction from scratch, the existing

structure should be considered for reuse. We have focused a lot on this theme in recent years. As architects, during the design

stage it is also possible to create buildings that can have greater flexibility for all stages of their useful life, with varying uses.

Usually a free plan can be compartmentalized in the most convenient way for a particular use. Working with intelligent

modularity is also something that will never go out of style. This way, even electrical and hydraulic installations can be designed

to allow specific possibilities.

5/10 https://www.archdaily.com/928391/why-flexibility-and-material-reuse-are-key-aspects-of-sustainability

Recycling is the last of the R's, but not the least. It is about harnessing waste to create another product, which may have di erent

or similar characteristics and uses. This prevents materials from being discarded and overloading landfills, disrupting their cycle.

If we think of our cities and their huge stock of buildings already built and in need of improvement, we can imagine the potential

for reuse of materials in these structures, masonry, closures, etc. There is already a name for this concept: Urban Mining. Instead

of exploiting natural resources, and with the support of technology, “Urban mining is a term that symbolizes the city of tomorrow.

It links a broad perspective to the creative impulse and this must be particularly emphasized with useful and scalable tools that

already exist. These include those for quantifying secondary raw materials, recovery and recycling techniques, digitizing recycling

patterns into structural information, profitability analyzes, and business sectors, such as those that process and retrieve valuable

materials. ”[1]

6/10 https://www.archdaily.com/928391/why-flexibility-and-material-reuse-are-key-aspects-of-sustainability

Flexibility and material reuse are key aspects of sustainability. The construction industry must and is already changing to adapt

to the needs of new times. Rather than being a backward industry, high-consuming and dependent on increasingly scarce natural

resources, it has the power to become a vector of change that will impact many other fields. With more than half of the world's

population living in cities, this future will inevitably depend on the recovery and recycling of “urban ecosystem” building

materials and a greater awareness of our impact of every action we take. Therefore, in addition to thinking about and building

high-performance sustainable buildings, it is essential to take into account expectations and concerns, and especially to involve

people in the processes.


[1] Hillebrandt, Annette; Riegler-Floors, Petra; Rosen, Anja; Seggewies, Johanna-Katharina. Manual of Recycling: Building as

Sources of Materials. Edition Detail. 2019

Image gallery


About this author

Eduardo Souza




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Reference #18.450de8ac.1606307636.354195

1/1 https://www.yourhome.gov.au/materials/embodied-energy

Embodied Energy in Building Materials: What it is and How to Calculate It

Written by Eduardo Souza | Translated by José Tomás Franco

January 13, 2020


All human activities a ect the environment. Some are less impactful, some much, much more. According to the United Nations

Environment Program (UNEP), the construction sector is responsible for up to 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Activities

such as mining, processing, transportation, industrial operations, and the combination of chemical products result in the release

of gases such as CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, halocarbons, and water vapor. When these gases are released into the atmosphere, they

absorb a portion of the sun's rays and redistribute them in the form of radiation in the atmosphere, warming our planet. With a

rampant amount of gas released daily, this layer thickens, which causes solar radiation to enter and and stay in the planet. Today,

this 'layer' has become so thick that mankind is beginning to experience severe consequence, such as desertification, ice melting,

water scarcity, and the intensification of storms, hurricanes, and floods, which has modified ecosystems and reduced


As architects, one of our biggest concerns should be the reduction of carbon emissions from the buildings we construct. Being

able to measure, quantify, and rate this quality is a good way to start.


1/8 https://www.archdaily.com/931249/embodied-energy-in-building-materials-what-it-is-and-how-to-calculate-it

The term Embodied Energy or Embodied Carbon refers to the sum impact of all greenhouse gas emissions attributed to a

material during its life cycle. This cycle encompasses extraction, manufacturing, construction, maintenance, and disposal. For

example, reinforced concrete is a material with extremely high embodied energy. When manufacturing the cement, large

amounts of CO2 are released in the calcination stage, where limestone is transformed into calcium oxide (quicklime), as well as in

the burning of fossil fuels in furnaces. If we add these issues to the exploitation of sand and stone, to the use of iron for the rebar,

to its transport to the construction site to be added to the mix, we can understand the impact of each decision of a project on the

environment. Other construction materials, such as ceramic, brick, and plastic, similarly require large amounts of energy to be

manufactured since the minerals used in them must be extracted and treated in energy-intensive processes.

It's important to keep in mind that there are two types of carbon emissions in relation to buildings: Embodied Carbon and

Operational Carbon. The latter refers to all the carbon dioxide emitted during the life of an entire building, rather than just its

2/8 https://www.archdaily.com/931249/embodied-energy-in-building-materials-what-it-is-and-how-to-calculate-it

materials, encompassing electricity consumption, heating, cooling, and more.

Understanding the amount of energy or carbon incorporated in building's materials is essential to creating more eco-conscious

projects. A 'sustainable material' in one place may have a high energy load in another due to local availability and the type of

transport involved.

A standardized method of quantifying the environmental impact of buildings, from the extraction of materials and the

manufacture of products to the end of their useful life and disposal, is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Using a quantitative

methodology, numerical results are obtained that reflect the impact categories and provide comparisons between similar

products. To a similar end, the University of Bath (UK), has compiled a list comparing the energy content of the most commonly

used materials around the world.

3/8 https://www.archdaily.com/931249/embodied-energy-in-building-materials-what-it-is-and-how-to-calculate-it

There are also other tools and technologies that promise to facilitate the process. Autodesk, together with the Carbon Leadership

Forum and in collaboration with other construction and so ware companies, has developed the Embedded Carbon in

Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, which is available to all beta users. The idea is to provide users with the information they need

to make more informed decisions about the embodied carbon of each element of a building, promoting intelligent, conscious,

and accessible solutions even for those who are not specialists. As always, awareness in making decisions and being conscious of

the options available are always the best way to make processes more intelligent and sustainable.

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Building information modeling

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This article is about Building information modeling. For other uses, see Bim (disambiguation).

Building information modeling (BIM) is a process supported by various tools, technologies and contracts

involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional

characteristics of places. Building information models (BIMs) are computer files (often but not always in

proprietary formats and containing proprietary data) which can be extracted, exchanged or networked to

support decision-making regarding a built asset. BIM software is used by individuals, businesses and

government agencies who plan, design, construct, operate and maintain buildings and diverse physical

infrastructures, such as water, refuse, electricity, gas, communication utilities, roads, railways, bridges, ports

and tunnels.

The concept of BIM has been in development since the 1970s, but it only became an agreed term in the

early 2000s. Development of standards and adoption of BIM has progressed at different speeds in different

countries; standards developed in the United Kingdom from 2007 onwards have formed the basis of

international standard ISO 19650, launched in January 2019.

Contents [hide]

1 History

1.1 Interoperability and BIM standards

2 Definition

3 Usage throughout the project life-cycle

3.1 Management of building information models

3.2 BIM in construction management

3.3 BIM in facility operation

3.4 BIM in green building

4 International developments

4.1 Asia

4.1.1 China

4.1.2 Hong Kong

4.1.3 India

4.1.4 Iran

4.1.5 Malaysia

4.1.6 Singapore

4.1.7 Japan

4.1.8 South Korea

4.1.9 United Arab Emirates

4.2 Europe

4.2.1 Austria

4.2.2 Czech Republic

4.2.3 Estonia

4.2.4 France

4.2.5 Germany

4.2.6 Ireland

4.2.7 Italy

4.2.8 Lithuania

4.2.9 The Netherlands

4.2.10 Norway

4.2.11 Poland

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4.2.12 Portugal

4.2.13 Russia

4.2.14 Slovakia

4.2.15 Spain

4.2.16 Switzerland

4.2.17 United Kingdom

4.3 North America

4.3.1 Canada

4.3.2 United States of America

4.4 Africa

4.4.1 Nigeria

4.4.2 South Africa

4.5 Oceania

4.5.1 Australia

4.5.2 New Zealand

5 Future potential

6 Purposes or dimensionality

6.1 4D

6.2 5D

6.3 6D

7 See also

8 References

9 Further reading

History [ edit ]

The concept of BIM has existed since the 1970s. The first software tools developed for modelling buildings

emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and included workstation products such as Chuck Eastman's

Building Description System [1] and GLIDE, RUCAPS, Sonata, Reflex and Gable 4D Series. [2][3] The early

applications, and the hardware needed to run them, were expensive, which limited widespread adoption.

The term 'building model' (in the sense of BIM as used today) was first used in papers in the mid-1980s: in a

1985 paper by Simon Ruffle eventually published in 1986, [4] and later in a 1986 paper by Robert Aish [5] -

then at GMW Computers Ltd, developer of RUCAPS software - referring to the software's use at London's

Heathrow Airport. [6] The term 'Building Information Model' first appeared in a 1992 paper by G.A. van

Nederveen and F. P. Tolman. [7]

However, the terms 'Building Information Model' and 'Building Information Modeling' (including the acronym

"BIM") did not become popularly used until some 10 years later. In 2002, Autodesk released a white paper

entitled "Building Information Modeling," [8] and other software vendors also started to assert their

involvement in the field. [9] By hosting contributions from Autodesk, Bentley Systems and Graphisoft, plus

other industry observers, in 2003, [10] Jerry Laiserin helped popularize and standardize the term as a

common name for the digital representation of the building process. [11] Facilitating exchange and

interoperability of information in digital format had previously been offered under differing terminology by

Graphisoft as "Virtual Building", Bentley Systems as "Integrated Project Models", and by Autodesk or

Vectorworks as "Building Information Modeling".

The pioneering role of applications such as RUCAPS, Sonata and Reflex has been recognized by

Laiserin [12] as well as the UK's Royal Academy of Engineering. [13] Due to the complexity of gathering all the

relevant information when working with BIM, some companies have developed software designed

specifically to work in a BIM framework. These applications differ from architectural drafting tools such as

AutoCAD by allowing the addition of further information (time, cost, manufacturers' details, sustainability,

and maintenance information, etc.) to the building model.

As Graphisoft had been developing such solutions for longer than its competitors, Laiserin regarded its

ArchiCAD application as then "one of the most mature BIM solutions on the market." [14] Following its launch

in 1987, ArchiCAD became regarded by some as the first implementation of BIM, [15][16] as it was the first

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CAD product on a personal computer able to create both 2D and 3D geometry, as well as the first

commercial BIM product for personal computers. [15][17][18]

Interoperability and BIM standards [ edit ]

As some BIM software developers have created proprietary data structures in their software, data and files

created by one vendor's applications may not work in other vendor solutions. To achieve interoperability

between applications, neutral, non-proprietary or open standards for sharing BIM data among different

software applications have been developed.

Poor software interoperability has long been regarded as an obstacle to industry efficiency in general and to

BIM adoption in particular. In August 2004 a US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

report [19] conservatively estimated that $15.8 billion was lost annually by the U.S. capital facilities industry

due to inadequate interoperability arising from "the highly fragmented nature of the industry, the industry’s

continued paper-based business practices, a lack of standardization, and inconsistent technology adoption

among stakeholders".

An early BIM standard was the CIMSteel Integration Standard, CIS/2, a product model and data exchange

file format for structural steel project information (CIMsteel: Computer Integrated Manufacturing of

Constructional Steelwork). CIS/2 enables seamless and integrated information exchange during the design

and construction of steel framed structures. It was developed by the University of Leeds and the UK's Steel

Construction Institute in the late 1990s, with inputs from Georgia Tech, and was approved by the American

Institute of Steel Construction as its data exchange format for structural steel in 2000. [20]

BIM is often associated with Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) and aecXML – data structures for

representing information – developed by buildingSMART. IFC is recognised by the ISO and has been an

official international standard, ISO 16739, since 2013. [21]

Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) is also associated with BIM. COBie was

devised by Bill East of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 2007, [22] and helps capture and record

equipment lists, product data sheets, warranties, spare parts lists, and preventive maintenance schedules.

This information is used to support operations, maintenance and asset management once a built asset is in

service. [23] In December 2011, it was approved by the US-based National Institute of Building Sciences as

part of its National Building Information Model (NBIMS-US) standard. [24] COBie has been incorporated into

software, and may take several forms including spreadsheet, IFC, and ifcXML. In early 2013

BuildingSMART was working on a lightweight XML format, COBieLite, which became available for review in

April 2013. [25] In September 2014, a code of practice regarding COBie was issued as a British Standard: BS

1192-4. [26]

In January 2019, ISO published the first two parts of ISO 19650, providing a framework for building

information modelling, based on process standards developed in the United Kingdom. UK BS and PAS 1192

specifications form the basis of further parts of the ISO 19650 series, with parts on asset management (Part

3) and security management (Part 5) published in 2020. [27]

The IEC/ISO 81346 series for reference designation has published 81346-12:2018, [28] also known as RDS-

CW (Reference Designation System for Construction Works). The use of RDS-CW offers the prospect of

integrating BIM with complementary international standards based classification systems being developed

for the Power Plant sector. [29]

Definition [ edit ]

ISO 19650:2019 defines BIM as:

Use of a shared digital representation of a built asset to facilitate design, construction and operation

processes to form a reliable basis for decisions. [30]

The US National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee has the following definition:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics

of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis

for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition. [31]

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Traditional building design was largely reliant upon two-dimensional technical drawings (plans, elevations,

sections, etc). Building information modeling extends the three primary spatial dimensions (width, height and

depth), incorporating information about time (so-called 4D BIM), [32] cost (5D BIM), [33] asset management,

sustainability, etc. BIM therefore covers more than just geometry. It also covers spatial relationships,

geospatial information, quantities and properties of building components (for example, manufacturers'

details), and enables a wide range of collaborative processes relating to the built asset from initial planning

through to construction and then throughout its operational life.

BIM authoring tools present a design as combinations of "objects" – vague and undefined, generic or

product-specific, solid shapes or void-space oriented (like the shape of a room), that carry their geometry,

relations, and attributes. BIM applications allow extraction of different views from a building model for

drawing production and other uses. These different views are automatically consistent, being based on a

single definition of each object instance. [34] BIM software also defines objects parametrically; that is, the

objects are defined as parameters and relations to other objects so that if a related object is amended,

dependent ones will automatically also change. [34] Each model element can carry attributes for selecting

and ordering them automatically, providing cost estimates as well as material tracking and ordering. [34]

For the professionals involved in a project, BIM enables a virtual information model to be shared by the

design team (architects, landscape architects, surveyors, civil, structural and building services engineers,

etc.), the main contractor and subcontractors, and the owner/operator. Each professional adds disciplinespecific

data to the shared model - commonly, a 'federated' model which combines several different

disciplines' models into one. [35] Combining models enables visualisation of all models in a single

environment, better coordination and development of designs, enhanced clash avoidance and detection,

and improved time and cost decision-making. [35]

Usage throughout the project life-cycle [ edit ]

Use of BIM goes beyond the planning and design phase of the project, extending throughout the building life

cycle. The supporting processes of building lifecycle management includes cost management, construction

management, project management, facility operation and application in green building.

Management of building information models [ edit ]

Building information models span the whole concept-to-occupation time-span. To ensure efficient

management of information processes throughout this span, a BIM manager (also sometimes defined as a

virtual design-to-construction, VDC, project manager – VDCPM) might be appointed. The BIM manager is

retained by a design build team on the client's behalf from the pre-design phase onwards to develop and to

track the object-oriented BIM against predicted and measured performance objectives, supporting multidisciplinary

building information models that drive analysis, schedules, take-off and logistics. [36][37]

Companies are also now considering developing BIMs in various levels of detail, since depending on the

application of BIM, more or less detail is needed, and there is varying modeling effort associated with

generating building information models at different levels of detail. [38]

BIM in construction management [ edit ]

Participants in the building process are constantly challenged to deliver successful projects despite tight

budgets, limited manpower, accelerated schedules, and limited or conflicting information. The significant

disciplines such as architectural, structural and MEP designs should be well-coordinated, as two things can’t

take place at the same place and time. BIM additionally is able to aid in collision detection, identifying the

exact location of discrepancies.

The BIM concept envisages virtual construction of a facility prior to its actual physical construction, in order

to reduce uncertainty, improve safety, work out problems, and simulate and analyze potential impacts. [39]

Sub-contractors from every trade can input critical information into the model before beginning construction,

with opportunities to pre-fabricate or pre-assemble some systems off-site. Waste can be minimised on-site

and products delivered on a just-in-time basis rather than being stock-piled on-site. [39]

Quantities and shared properties of materials can be extracted easily. Scopes of work can be isolated and

defined. Systems, assemblies and sequences can be shown in a relative scale with the entire facility or

group of facilities. BIM also prevents errors by enabling conflict or 'clash detection' whereby the computer

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model visually highlights to the team where parts of the building (e.g.:structural frame and building services

pipes or ducts) may wrongly intersect.

BIM in facility operation [ edit ]

BIM can bridge the information loss associated with handling a project from design team, to construction

team and to building owner/operator, by allowing each group to add to and reference back to all information

they acquire during their period of contribution to the BIM model. This can yield benefits to the facility owner

or operator.

For example, a building owner may find evidence of a leak in his building. Rather than exploring the physical

building, he may turn to the model and see that a water valve is located in the suspect location. He could

also have in the model the specific valve size, manufacturer, part number, and any other information ever

researched in the past, pending adequate computing power. Such problems were initially addressed by

Leite and Akinci when developing a vulnerability representation of facility contents and threats for supporting

the identification of vulnerabilities in building emergencies. [40]

Dynamic information about the building, such as sensor measurements and control signals from the building

systems, can also be incorporated within BIM software to support analysis of building operation and

maintenance. [41]

There have been attempts at creating information models for older, pre-existing facilities. Approaches

include referencing key metrics such as the Facility Condition Index (FCI), or using 3D laser-scanning

surveys and photogrammetry techniques (both separately or in combination) to capture accurate

measurements of the asset that can be used as the basis for a model. Trying to model a building

constructed in, say 1927, requires numerous assumptions about design standards, building codes,

construction methods, materials, etc., and is, therefore, more complex than building a model during design.

One of the challenges to the proper maintenance and management of existing facilities is understanding

how BIM can be utilized to support a holistic understanding and implementation of building management

practices and “cost of ownership” principles that support the full product lifecycle of a building. An American

National Standard entitled APPA 1000 – Total Cost of Ownership for Facilities Asset Management

incorporates BIM to factor in a variety of critical requirements and costs over the life-cycle of the building,

including but not limited to: replacement of energy, utility, and safety systems; continual maintenance of the

building exterior and interior and replacement of materials; updates to design and functionality; and

recapitalization costs.

BIM in green building [ edit ]

Main article: Building information modeling in green building

BIM in green building, or "green BIM", is a process that can help architecture, engineering and construction

firms to improve sustainability in the built environment. It can allow architects and engineers to integrate and

analyze environmental issues in their design over the life cycle of the asset. [42]

International developments [ edit ]

Asia [ edit ]

China [ edit ]

China began its exploration on informatisation in 2001. The Ministry of Construction announced BIM was as

the key application technology of informatisation in "Ten new technologies of construction industry" (by

2010). [43] The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) clearly announced BIM technology as a national

key research and application project in "12th Five-Year" Science and Technology Development Planning.

Therefore, the year 2011 was described as "The First Year of China's BIM". [44]

Hong Kong [ edit ]

The Hong Kong Housing Authority set a target of full BIM implementation in 2014/2015. BuildingSmart Hong

Kong was inaugurated in Hong Kong SAR in late April 2012. [45] The Government of Hong Kong mandates

the use of BIM for all government projects over HK$30M since 1 January 2018. [46]

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India [ edit ]

In India BIM is also known as VDC: Virtual Design and Construction. Due to its population and economic

growth, India has an expanding construction market. In spite of this, BIM usage was reported by only 22% of

respondents to a 2014 survey. [47] In 2019, government officials said BIM could help save up to 20% by

shortening construction time, and urged wider adoption by infrastructure ministries. [48]

Iran [ edit ]

The Iran Building Information Modeling Association (IBIMA) was founded in 2012 by professional engineers

from five universities in Iran, including the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Amirkabir

University of Technology. [49] While it is not currently active, IBIMA aims to share knowledge resources to

support construction engineering management decision-making. [50][51]

Malaysia [ edit ]

BIM implementation is targeted towards BIM Stage 2 by the year 2020 led by the Construction Industry

Development Board (CIDB Malaysia). Under the Construction Industry Transformation Plan (CITP 2016-

2020), [52] it is hoped more emphasis on technology adoption across the project life-cycle will induce higher


Singapore [ edit ]

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has announced that BIM would be introduced for

architectural submission (by 2013), structural and M&E submissions (by 2014) and eventually for plan

submissions of all projects with gross floor area of more than 5,000 square meters by 2015. The BCA

Academy is training students in BIM. [53]

Japan [ edit ]

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) has announced "Start of BIM pilot project in

government building and repairs" (by 2010). [54] Japan Institute of Architects (JIA) released the BIM

guidelines (by 2012), which showed the agenda and expected effect of BIM to architects. [55]

South Korea [ edit ]

Small BIM-related seminars and independent BIM effort existed in South Korea even in the 1990s. However,

it was not until the late 2000s that the Korean industry paid attention to BIM. The first industry-level BIM

conference was held in April 2008, after which, BIM has been spread very rapidly. Since 2010, the Korean

government has been gradually increasing the scope of BIM-mandated projects. McGraw Hill published a

detailed report in 2012 on the status of BIM adoption and implementation in South Korea. [56]

United Arab Emirates [ edit ]

Dubai Municipality issued a circular (196) in 2014 mandating BIM use for buildings of a certain size, height

or type. The one page circular initiated strong interest in BIM and the market responded in preparation for

more guidelines and direction. In 2015 the Municipality issued another circular (207) titled 'Regarding the

expansion of applying the (BIM) on buildings and facilities in the emirate of Dubai' which made BIM

mandatory on more projects by reducing the minimum size and height requirement for projects requiring

BIM. This second circular drove BIM adoption further with several projects and organizations adopting UK

BIM standards as best practice. In 2016, the UAE's Quality and Conformity Commission set up a BIM

steering group to investigate statewide adoption of BIM. [57]

Europe [ edit ]

Austria [ edit ]

Austrian standards for digital modeling are summarized in the ÖNORM A 6241, published on March 15,

2015. The ÖNORM A 6241-1 (BIM Level 2), which replaced the ÖNORM A 6240-4, has been extended in

the detailed and executive design stages, and corrected in the lack of definitions. The ÖNORM A 6241-2

(BIM Level 3) includes all the requirements for the BIM Level 3 (iBIM). [58]

Czech Republic [ edit ]

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The Czech BIM Council, established in May 2011, aims to implement BIM methodologies into the Czech

building and designing processes, education, standards and legislation. [59]

Estonia [ edit ]

In Estonia digital construction cluster (Digitaalehituse Klaster) was formed in 2015 to develop BIM solutions

for the whole life-cycle of construction. [60] The strategic objective of the cluster is to develop an innovative

digital construction environment as well as VDC new product development, Grid and e-construction portal to

increase the international competitiveness and sales of Estonian businesses in the construction field. The

cluster is equally co-funded by European Structural and Investment Funds through Enterprise Estonia and

by the members of the cluster with a total budget of 600 000 euros for the period 2016-2018.

France [ edit ]

In France, a Building transition digital plan - French acronym PTNB - has been created (mandated since

2015 to 2017 and under several ministries). There is also the French arm of buildingSMART, called

Mediaconstruct (existing since 1989).

Germany [ edit ]

In December 2015, the German minister for transport Alexander Dobrindt announced a timetable for the

introduction of mandatory BIM for German road and rail projects from the end of 2020. [61] Speaking in April

2016, he said digital design and construction must become standard for construction projects in Germany,

with Germany two to three years behind The Netherlands and the UK in aspects of implementing BIM. [62]

Ireland [ edit ]

In November 2017, Ireland's Department for Public Expenditure and Reform launched a strategy to increase

use of digital technology in delivery of key public works projects, requiring the use of BIM to be phased in

over the next four years. [63]

Italy [ edit ]

Through the new D.l. 50, in April 2016 Italy has included into its own legislation several European directives

including 2014/24/EU on Public Procurement. The decree states among the main goals of public

procurement the "rationalization of designing activities and of all connected verification processes, through

the progressive adoption of digital methods and electronic instruments such as Building and Infrastructure

Information Modelling". [64] A norm in 8 parts is also being written to support the transition: UNI 11337-1, UNI

11337-4 and UNI 11337-5 were published in January 2017, with five further chapters to follow within a year.

In early 2018 the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport issued a decree (DM 01/12/17) creating a

governmental BIM Mandate compelling public client organisations to adopt a digital approach by 2025, with

an incremental obligation which will start on 1 January 2019. [65][66]

Lithuania [ edit ]

Lithuania is moving towards adoption of BIM infrastructure by founding a public body "Skaitmeninė statyba"

(Digital Construction), which is managed by 13 associations. Also, there is a BIM work group established by

Lietuvos Architektų Sąjunga (a Lithuanian architects body). The initiative intends Lithuania to adopt BIM,

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) and National Construction Classification as standard. An international

conference "Skaitmeninė statyba Lietuvoje" (Digital Construction in Lithuania) has been held annually since


The Netherlands [ edit ]

On 1 November 2011, the Rijksgebouwendienst, the agency within the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial

Planning and the Environment that manages government buildings, introduced the Rgd BIM Standard, [67]

which it updated on 1 July 2012.

Norway [ edit ]

In Norway BIM has been used increasingly since 2008. Several large public clients require use of BIM in

open formats (IFC) in most or all of their projects. The Government Building Authority bases its processes

on BIM in open formats to increase process speed and quality, and all large and several small and medium-

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sized contractors use BIM. National BIM development is centred around the local organisation,

buildingSMART Norway which represents 25% of the Norwegian construction industry.

[citation needed]

Poland [ edit ]

BIMKlaster (BIM Cluster) is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation established in 2012 with the aim of

promoting BIM development in Poland. [68] In September 2016, the Ministry of Infrastructure and

Construction began a series of expert meetings concerning the application of BIM methodologies in the

construction industry. [69]

Portugal [ edit ]

Created in 2015 to promote the adoption of BIM in Portugal and its normalisation, the Technical Committee

for BIM Standardisation, CT197-BIM, has created the first strategic document for construction 4.0 in

Portugal, aiming to align the country's industry around a common vision, integrated and more ambitious than

a simple technology change. [70]

Russia [ edit ]

The Russian government has approved a list of the regulations that provide the creation of a legal

framework for the use of information modeling of buildings in construction.

[citation needed]

Slovakia [ edit ]

The BIM Association of Slovakia, "BIMaS", was established in January 2013 as the first Slovak professional

organisation focused on BIM. Although there are neither standards nor legislative requirements to deliver

projects in BIM, many architects, structural engineers and contractors, plus a few investors are already

applying BIM. A Slovak implementation strategy created by BIMaS and supported by the Chamber of Civil

Engineers and Chamber of Architects has yet to be approved by Slovak authorities due to their low interest

in such innovation. [71]

Spain [ edit ]

A July 2015 meeting at Spain’s Ministry of Infrastructure [Ministerio de Fomento] launched the country’s

national BIM strategy, making BIM a mandatory requirement on public sector projects with a possible

starting date of 2018. [72] Following a February 2015 BIM summit in Barcelona, professionals in Spain

established a BIM commission (ITeC) to drive the adoption of BIM in the region. [73]

Switzerland [ edit ]

Since 2009 through the initiative of buildingSmart Switzerland, then 2013, BIM awareness among a broader

community of engineers and architects was raised due to the open competition for Basel's Felix Platter

Hospital [74] where a BIM coordinator was sought. BIM has also been a subject of events by the Swiss

Society for Engineers and Architects, SIA. [75]

United Kingdom [ edit ]

In May 2011 UK Government Chief Construction Adviser Paul Morrell called for BIM adoption on UK

government construction projects. [76] Morrell also told construction professionals to adopt BIM or be

"Betamaxed out". [77] In June 2011 the UK government published its BIM strategy, [78] announcing its

intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data

being electronic) on its projects by 2016. Initially, compliance would require building data to be delivered in a

vendor-neutral 'COBie' format, thus overcoming the limited interoperability of BIM software suites available

on the market. The UK Government BIM Task Group led the government's BIM programme and

requirements, [79] including a free-to-use set of UK standards and tools that defined 'level 2 BIM'. [80] In April

2016, the UK Government published a new central web portal as a point of reference for the industry for

'level 2 BIM'. [81] The work of the BIM Task Group now continues under the stewardship of the Cambridgebased

Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), [82] announced in December 2017 and formally launched in

early 2018. [83]

Outside of government, industry adoption of BIM from 2016 has been led by the UK BIM Alliance, [84] an

independent, not-for-profit, collaboratively-based organisation formed to champion and enable the

implementation of BIM, and to connect and represent organisations, groups and individuals working towards

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digital transformation of the UK's built environment industry. The UK BIM Alliance's executive team [85]

directs activities in three core areas: engagement, implementation and operations (internal support and

secretariat functions). In November 2017, the UK BIM Alliance merged with the UK chapter of

BuildingSMART. [86]

In October 2019, CDBB, the UK BIM Alliance and the BSI Group launched the UK BIM Framework.

Superseding the BIM levels approach, the framework describes an overarching approach to implementing

BIM in the UK, integrating the international ISO 19650 series of standards into UK processes and

practice. [87]

National Building Specification (NBS) has published research into BIM adoption in the UK since 2011, and in

2020 published its 10th annual BIM report. [88] In 2011, 43% of respondents had not heard of BIM; in 2020

73% said they were using BIM. [88]

North America [ edit ]

Canada [ edit ]

Several organizations support BIM adoption and implementation in Canada: the Canada BIM Council

(CANBIM, founded in 2008), [89] the Institute for BIM in Canada, [90] and buildingSMART Canada (the

Canadian chapter of buildingSMART International). [91]

United States of America [ edit ]

The Associated General Contractors of America and US contracting firms have developed various working

definitions of BIM that describe it generally as:

an object-oriented building development tool that utilizes 3-D modeling concepts, information technology

and software interoperability to design, construct and operate a building project, as well as communicate

its details.

[citation needed]

Although the concept of BIM and relevant processes are being explored by contractors, architects and

developers alike, the term itself has been questioned and debated [92] with alternatives including Virtual

Building Environment (VBE) and virtual design and construction (VDC) also considered. Unlike some

countries such as the UK, the US has not adopted a set of national BIM guidelines, allowing different

systems to remain in competition. [93]

BIM is seen to be closely related to Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) where the primary motive is to bring

the teams together early on in the project. [94] A full implementation of BIM also requires the project teams to

collaborate from the inception stage and formulate model sharing and ownership contract documents.

The American Institute of Architects has defined BIM as "a model-based technology linked with a database

of project information", [3] and this reflects the general reliance on database technology as the foundation. In

the future, structured text documents such as specifications may be able to be searched and linked to

regional, national, and international standards.

Africa [ edit ]

Nigeria [ edit ]

BIM has the potential to play a vital role in the Nigerian AEC sector. In addition to its potential clarity and

transparency, it may help promote standardization across the industry. For instance, Utiome [95] suggests

that, in conceptualizing a BIM-based knowledge transfer framework from industrialized economies to urban

construction projects in developing nations, generic BIM objects can benefit from rich building information

within specification parameters in product libraries, and used for efficient, streamlined design and

construction. Similarly, an assessment of the current 'state of the art' by Kori [96] found that medium and large

firms were leading the adoption of BIM in the industry. Smaller firms were less advanced with respect to

process and policy adherence. There has been little adoption of BIM in the built environment due to

construction industry resistance to changes or new ways of doing things. The industry is still working with

conventional 2D CAD systems in services and structural designs, although production could be in 3D

systems. There is virtually no utilisation of 4D and 5D systems.

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BIM Africa Initiative, primarily based in Nigeria, is a non-profit institute advocating the adoption of BIM

across Africa. [97] Since 2018, it has been engaging with professionals and the government towards the

digital transformation of the built industry. [98][99] Produced annually by its research and development

committee, the African BIM Report gives an overview of BIM adoption across the African continent. [100]

South Africa [ edit ]

The South African BIM Institute, established in May 2015, aims to enable technical experts to discuss digital

construction solutions that can be adopted by professionals working within the construction sector. Its initial

task was to promote the SA BIM Protocol. [101]

There are no mandated or national best practice BIM standards or protocols in South Africa. Organisations

implement company-specific BIM standards and protocols at best (there are isolated examples of crossindustry


[citation needed]

Oceania [ edit ]

Australia [ edit ]

In February 2016, Infrastructure Australia recommended: "Governments should make the use of Building

Information Modelling (BIM) mandatory for the design of large-scale complex infrastructure projects. In

support of a mandatory rollout, the Australian Government should commission the Australasian

Procurement and Construction Council, working with industry, to develop appropriate guidance around the

adoption and use of BIM; and common standards and protocols to be applied when using BIM.” [102]

New Zealand [ edit ]

In 2015, many projects in the rebuilding of Christchurch were being assembled in detail on a computer using

BIM well before workers set foot on the site. The New Zealand government started a BIM acceleration

committee, as part of a productivity partnership with the goal of 20 per cent more efficiency in the

construction industry by 2020. [103]

Future potential [ edit ]

BIM is a relatively new technology in an industry typically slow to adopt change. Yet many early adopters are

confident that BIM will grow to play an even more crucial role in building documentation. [104]

Proponents claim that BIM offers:

1. Improved visualization

2. Improved productivity due to easy retrieval of information

3. Increased coordination of construction documents

4. Embedding and linking of vital information such as vendors for specific materials, location of details

and quantities required for estimation and tendering

5. Increased speed of delivery

6. Reduced costs

BIM also contains most of the data needed for building performance analysis. [105] The building properties in

BIM can be used to automatically create the input file for building performance simulation and save a

significant amount of time and effort. [106] Moreover, automation of this process reduce errors and

mismatches in the building performance simulation process.

Purposes or dimensionality [ edit ]

Some purposes or uses of BIM may be described as 'dimensions'. However, there is little consensus on

definitions beyond 5D, and some organisations dismiss the term; the UK Institution of Structural Engineers,

for example, says "cost (5D) is not really a 'dimension'." [107]

4D [ edit ]

4D BIM, an acronym for 4-dimensional building information modeling, refers to the intelligent linking of

individual 3D CAD components or assemblies with time- or scheduling-related information. [32][108] The term

10/16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_information_modeling#BIM_in_green_building

4D refers to the fourth dimension: time, i.e. 3D plus time. [33]

4D modelling enables project participants (architects, designers, contractors, clients) to plan, sequence the

physical activities, visualise the critical path of a series of events, mitigate the risks, report and monitor

progress of activities through the lifetime of the project. [109][110][111] 4D BIM enables a sequence of events to

be depicted visually on a time line that has been populated by a 3D model, augmenting traditional Gantt

charts and critical path (CPM) schedules often used in project management. [112][113][114][115][116][117][118][119]

Construction sequences can be reviewed as a series of problems using 4D BIM, enabling users to explore

options, manage solutions and optimize results.

As an advanced construction management technique, it has been used by project delivery teams working on

larger projects. [120][121][122] 4D BIM has traditionally been used for higher end projects due to the associated

costs, but technologies are now emerging that allow the process to be used by laymen or to drive processes

such as manufacture. [123][124][125][2][126]

5D [ edit ]

5D BIM, an acronym for 5-dimensional building information modeling refers to the intelligent linking of

individual 3D components or assemblies with time schedule (4D BIM) constraints [111] and then with costrelated

information. [127] 5D models enable participants to visualise construction progress and related costs

over time. [109][128] This BIM-centric project management technique has potential to improve management

and delivery of projects of any size or complexity. [129]

In June 2016, McKinsey & Company identified 5D BIM technology as one of five big ideas poised to disrupt

construction. It defined 5D BIM as "a five-dimensional representation of the physical and functional

characteristics of any project. It considers a project’s time schedule and cost in addition to the standard

spatial design parameters in 3-D." [130]

6D [ edit ]

6D BIM, an acronym for 6-dimensional building information modeling, refers to the intelligent linking of

individual 3D components or assemblies with all aspects of project life-cycle management

information. [131][132][133]

The 6D model is usually delivered to the owner when a construction project is finished. The "As-Built" BIM

model is populated with relevant building component information such as product data and details,

maintenance/operation manuals, cut sheet specifications, photos, warranty data, web links to product online

sources, manufacturer information and contacts, etc. This database is made accessible to the users/owners

through a customized proprietary web-based environment. This is intended to aid facilities managers in the

operation and maintenance of the facility. [134]

The term is less commonly used in the UK and has been replaced with reference to the Asset Information

Requirements (AIR) and an Asset Information Model (AIM) as specified in PAS1192-3:2014.

See also [ edit ]


BIM Wash


Data model

Design computing

Digital twin (the physical manifestation instrumented and connected to the model)


Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)

Lean construction

Macro BIM


Pre-fire planning

System information modelling

Virtual Design and Construction

11/16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_information_modeling#BIM_in_green_building

Whole Building Design Guide

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Further reading [ edit ]

Hardin, Brad (2009). Martin Viveros (ed.). BIM and Construction Management: Proven Tools, Methods

and Workflows. Sybex. ISBN 978-0-470-40235-1.

Jernigan, Finith (2007). BIG BIM little bim. 4Site Press. ISBN 978-0-9795699-0-6.

Kensek, Karen (2014). Building Information Modeling, Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-71774-8

Kensek, Karen and Noble, Douglas (2014). Building Information Modeling: BIM in Current and Future

Practice, Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-76630-9

Kiziltas, Semiha; Leite, Fernanda; Akinci, Burcu; Lipman, Robert R. (2009). "Interoperable

Methodologies and Techniques in CAD" . In Karimi, Hassan A.; Akinci, Burcu (eds.). CAD and GIS

Integration. CRC. pp. 73–109. ISBN 978-1-4200-6806-1.

Krygiel, Eddy and Nies, Brad (2008). Green BIM: Successful Sustainable Design with Building

Information Modeling, Sybex. ISBN 978-0-470-23960-5

Kymmell, Willem (2008). Building Information Modeling: Planning and Managing Construction Projects

with 4D CAD and Simulations, McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-149453-3

Lévy, François (2011). BIM in Small-Scale Sustainable Design, Wiley. ISBN 978-0470590898

Smith, Dana K. and Tardif, Michael (2009). Building Information Modeling: A Strategic Implementation

Guide for Architects, Engineers, Constructors, and Real Estate Asset Managers, Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-


Underwood, Jason, and Isikdag, Umit (2009). Handbook of Research on Building Information Modeling

and Construction Informatics: Concepts and Technologies, Information Science Publishing. ISBN 978-1-


Weygant, Robert S. (2011) BIM Content Development: Standards, Strategies, and Best Practices, Wiley.

ISBN 978-0-470-58357-9

V · T · E

V · T · E

Building information modeling (BIM)

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning



Categories: Building information modeling Data modeling Computer-aided design Construction


Building engineering

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Bulent Unalan 1,2,3 , Alberto Celani 2 , Harun Tanrivermis 1 , Mehmet Bulbul 1

and Andrea Ciaramella 2 *

1: Department of Real Estate Development

Graduate School of Applied Sciences

Ankara University

Ankara, Turkey

e-mail: {bunalan, tanrivermis, mbulbul}@ankara.edu.tr, web: www.ankara.edu.tr

2: Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering (ABC)

Politecnico di Milano

Milan, Italy

e-mail: {alberto.celani, andrea.ciaramella}@polimi.it, web: www.polimi.it

3: ISU, Water and Sewerage General Directorship

Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality

Kocaeli, Turkey

web: www.isu.gov.tr

Keywords: Sustainability, Life Cycle, Housing, Embodied Energy, Buildings

Abstract According to the literature approximately 40% of global energy in 2007 has been

using in the buildings which is responsible for 30% of total carbon emission. This humaninduced

carbon emissions cause climate change by increasing global temperature. In this

sense, energy consumption in the life cycle of buildings results in two different components:

embodied carbon and operational carbon. Embodied carbon, encompasses extraction and

processing of raw materials; manufacturing, transportation and distribution; use, reuse,

maintenance, recycling and disposal. Operational energy is consumed in operating the

buildings, e.g. heating and cooling systems, lighting, and home appliances which accomplish

some household functions. A number of measures and targets have been introduced,

including various fiscal and regulatory instruments to handle climate change and move

towards low and zero carbon buildings. Overall, the increase in efficiency of energy use is as

vital as production of energy and results in direct or indirect energy savings, and

subsequently mitigate high energy cost. The aim of this paper is to highlight the impact of

“different strategies” on embodied energy and ultimately on the environment. This concern

provides a more integrative approach to calculate a building’s embodied carbon in the

housing life cycle assessment considering the following strategies:

1. Choice of construction materials such as wood and glass etc… When designing buildings

2. Minimizing distance between building and raw material supply

3. Choosing recyclability in building materials and parts

4. Minimization of building-related waste during the construction processes

5. Planning in accordance with recent efforts for standardization of embodied carbon in the



B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

The construction industry largely uses natural resources and annually produces 40 % of

total energy in their life cycle stages of buildings in the World [1]. (Fig.1) shows an

increasing world energy consumption (quadrillion Btu) between 1990 and 2040 (Fig. 1a) [2].

This mainly arises from the expected global population growth from 6.9 billion in 2010 to

approximately 9.0 billion in 2040 (Fig. 1b) [3].

Figure 1. (a) World energy consumption (quadrillion Btu) between 1990 and 2040; (b) World population

(millions) between 2010 and 2040.

Additionaly increased human needs and developing efforts of countries lead to more

construction activities and world energy demands. Thus, the construction sector, in particular,

is one of the largest consumers of commercial energy in the form of electricity or heat by

directly burning fossil fuels (Fig. 2) [4]. The need for a re-design of processes in the

construction sector after the global crisis in the Western Countries calls the stakeholders to

develop a strategy lead to rethink the process of producing buildings in a more efficient way,

saving scarce resources and researching to find product and process technologies to deliver

efficiency in the system. Carbon Footprint is a standard and easy to use measurement system

of the absolute impact of a product and its use; life cycle in the context denotes the processbased

approach of the method and enables the stakeholders to work for continuous

improvement, being supported by a standard method to deliver quality and efficiency. In

addition to this we should consider the great potential of these approaches into green

marketing of products, delivered with an eye on sustainability measured with standard



B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

Figure 2. World energy consumption (quadrillion Btu) in buildings between 2010 and 2040

The building sector accounts for approximately 30–40% of national CO 2 emissions from

the use of fossil fuels. As construction activities both consume energy and cause

environmental pollution/emission of greenhouse gases they consequently lead to climate

change [5].

Environmental pollution has been forcing western countries to protect world

environment since the 1980s and to find concrete solutions to inbalances between economic

growth and environment with an increasing concern. Report of the World Commission in

1987 on Environmental and Development revealed the importance of sustainable

development diverting some attention from economic growth [6]. A sustainable development

generally refers to members of one generation acting to conserve resources for future

generations and also meeting the needs of the present [7]. One of the biggest threats to this

sustainable development is carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, it is crucial that the building

construction industry achieves sustainable development in the society.

Sustainable development is stated as development with low environmental impact, and

high economical and social levels. Achieving of these aims depends on a multi-disciplinary

approach with a number of properties such as energy saving, improved use of materials

including water, reuse and recycling of materials and emissions [8]. As buildings consume

large amount of energy; they need to be analyzed for sustainability in the lifecycle perspective

to develop strategies to minimize their energy use and associated environmental impacts.

1.1. Embodied energy

The housing materials consume energy during their life cycle stages, such as raw


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

material extraction, transport, manufacture, assembly, installation as well as its disassembly,

removal of the waste of demolition and disposal. The energy consumed in housing stages is

collectively stated as embodied energy which has two main components, direct energy and

indirect energy [7]. This divided assessment is called Life Cycle Energy Analysis (LCEA)


1.2. Operational energy

Operational energy is defined as the total energy which is used to run the building and

to support building performance for different functions, more specifically in heating, cooling,

lighting. Life cycle energy use of buildings is based on the operating energy (80–90%) and

the embodied energy (10–20%) (Fig. 3) [7].

Figure 3. Life cycle energy use of buildings

Compared to embodied energy, operational energy constitutes a relatively larger

proportion of a building's total life cycle energy. However, recent research has pointed the

significance of embodied energy and has acknowledged its growing proportion in total energy

due to the emergence of more energy efficient buildings [10].


Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool method used for the quantitative assessment of a

material used, energy flows and environmental impacts of products according to UNI ISO/TS

14067 [8]. Buildings are one of the main factors of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore, it has a big impact on environment protection and sustainable development


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

reducing energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions arising from buildings.

LCA encompasses the analysis and assessment of the environmental effects of housing

materials, components and assemblies throughout the entire life of the building construction,

use and demolition. Prediction of carbon emissions is essential and crucial from global

sustainability for an accurate and reasonable life-cycle [11].

2.1. Life cycle energy analysis in buildings

Life cycle energy analysis approach accounts for all energy used in building`s life cycle.

This approach is mainly composed of manufacture, operation, and demolation phases (Fig. 4)

[12]. Manufacture phase includes manufacturing and transportation of building materials and

technical installations used in new building and renovation of the buildings while operation

phase refers to all activities related to the use of the buildings over its life span such as water

use and powering appliances. Finally, demolition phase includes destruction of the building

and transportation of dismantled materials to landfill sites and/or recycling plants. Life cycle

energy analysis calculates embodied and operational energy in the whole life cycle of a

building [13] and it is composed of different parts as shown in Fig. 5.

Figure 4. Building life cycle stages

2.1.1. Embodied energy model for a building

The energy consumed during life cycle stages of a building, such as raw material

extraction, transport, manufacture, assembly, installation as well as its disassembly,

demolition and disposal is collectively interpreted as embodied energy. More specifically,

embodied energy is mainly divided into two category: direct and indirect energy. Direct

energy is consumed in various on-site and off-site operations like construction, prefabrication,

transportation and administration. Indirect energy is mostly used during the manufacturing of


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

building materials, in the main process, upstream processes and downstream processes and

during renovation, refurbishment and demolition [10].

2.1.2. Operational energy model for a building

Operational energyIt is the energy required for maintaining conditions and the daily life

maintenance of the housings such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and domestic

hot water, lighting, and for running appliances. Operational energy largely varies according to

the locations materials in housings and built of construction techniques [7].

Figure 5. Life cycle energy of a building


3.1. Choice of construction materials

The environmental impact of materials is caused during the complete life time, from

cradle to grave. It is very important to select those lowest environmental impact building

products at the design stage and designing proper processes is the way to lead improvement


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

into the system. The low carbon and low embodied energy materials in buildings design is

important to create more sustainable building environment. That concern helps designers to

predict which decisions are more or less critical on determination or selection of a building’s

material in terms of embodied impact. The LCA method has been developed to take

advantage of the environmental impact of single products or production processes. However,

since appropriate data bases and users interface are not completed it is still difficult to apply

LCA to compare alternatives in a design process of buildings [14]. As a result of for low

carbon materials the use of modern building materials should be carried out paying attention

to the energy intensity of materials the natural resources and raw materials consumed carbon

identity of the material the recycling use of equivalent materials and safe disposal and the

impact on the environment [15].

3.2. Minimizing distance between building and raw material supply

The case studies has stress out that 2% of embodied carbon is a result of transportation

of construction materials [16]. In the light of the researches, transfer of raw materials to

construction field and bringing of those treated materials to construction field, and choice of

local domestic and easily accesible materials, being easily removable and reusable, generation

of less waste should be critical points to minimize embodied carbon.

3.3. Choosing recyclability in building materials and parts

There is a rising demand nowadays on Building Information Modeling (BIM), which

allows use of recycled materials for housing construction, including the fabrication of housing

elements and also recycling of housing elements at the end of their life cycle or after a

housing’s dismantling [17]. Meanwhile it would be worth to consider the following principles

in the choice of the building materials from the recycling point [18];

i. use materials with high proportions of recycled content reducing their overall

embodied energy.

ii. reuse products saving large amounts of embodied energy compared to that used new




reduce construction waste for embodied energy saving.

select long life products or design for a long life adding value to their initial

embodied energy

It is clear how a well designed process of the supply chain and logistic cycle of materials can

improve the environmental efficiency of the building materials supply.

3.4. Minimization of building-related waste during the construction processes

A large amount of waste is generated during transformation of building materials in the

construction process. Energy embedded in construction waste could be important and could

carry adverse environmental impacts as long as it is not properly handled [18]. Raising

awareness of embodied carbon is a start and by performing BIM more housing components

could be assessed for waste generation. BIM also works well with prefabrication where the

housing design can use standard panel sizes and so on and waste therefore can be limited [18].


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

3.5. Planning in accordance with recent efforts for standardization of embodied carbon

3.5.1. Embodied energy limits

The system limits define the number of energy, transport, workmanship, design and

material inputs that are considered in the embodied energy calculation. Stages, such as raw

material extraction in remote upstream, and demolition and disposal in the farthest

downstream, should be included in system boundaries [4]. As a result of research studies with

different system boundaries their measurement figures vary and cannot be compared with

each other [1].

3.5.2. Methods of embodied energy measurement

Major parts of embodied energy analysis are process analysis, statistical analysis, input/

output analysis and hybrid analysis (process-based hybrid analysis and input/output-based

hybrid analysis). The Process-based analysis is one of the most widely used one of embodied

energy analysis, as it delivers more accurate and reliable results [21]. Results of disparate

embodied energy and LCA methods differ widely and their level of accuracy is not high. As a

result, their embodied energy conclusions can be differed [10]. Process analysis is accurate, as

it takes into account energy and material input in each process. A different of LCA tools,

along with data sets of environmental impacts of building materials such as ATHENA

(Database + Tool), Bath data (Database), BEES (Tool), Gabi (Database + Tool) provide

approach to determine life cycle impacts of a housing. However, most of these do not cover

all steps of a building's life cycle [20].

3.5.3. Geographic location of the constructions

Research studies performed in different countries differ from one to another in terms of

data relating to raw material quality, traditionally used materials, depending on the climate of

the materials used, production processes, level of economic development, delivered energy

generation, transportation distances, energy tariffs, energy use (fuel) in transport, and human

labor. This eventually affects the determination of energy consumption significantly,

subsequently embodied energy [4, 10].

3.5.4. Updates in database of measurement

Research studies based on previous and current data sources could differ significantly as

a result of the changing technology of manufacturing and transportation. Technological

developments such as change of fuel type, old transportation methods could affect energy

values. Any study based on such different data sources could be captious and uncertain, and

thus the end results could vary considerably [10].

3.5.5. Technology of manufacturing processes


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *

Differing technologies of material manufacturing possess assorted levels of energy

consumption, as advanced technology could consume less energy due to energy efficient

processes and developed energy management methods. As an example, in the same location

and same period, two studies could generate different results if they are extracting information

from two different material manufacturers using different technologies [10]. Technology used

in manufacturing process can cause an important difference that should be taken into account

in order to eliminate unreliable and variability of results [20].


Buildings are responsible for % 40 of total energy in their life cycle stages of buildings

in the world and for one third of global greenhouse gas emissions as well, in developed and

developing countries. Life cycle energy usage of buildings is based on the operating energy

(80–90%) and the embodied energy (10–20%) which ultimately has an increasing unfavorable

effect on climate change. Proper technologies and strategies would play main role to reduce

embodied carbon. Besides, quality of raw material, production processes, design of buildings,

development level of countries, use of local materials, transportation of produced materials,

type of energy in transport and calculation methods of embodied energy can show a wide

variety from one geographical region to another one and calculated embodied enerdy without

considering those parameters can not be compared with each other ans therefore any

standardization of embodied enery generated in buildings can not be obtained. These concerns

provide a more integrative and accurate approach to calculate a building’s embodied carbon in

the housing life cycle assessment considering all relevant afermentioned parameters.


[1] M. K. Dixit , C. H. Culp, J. L. Fernandez-Solıs, ‘’System boundary for embodied

energy in buildings: A conceptual model for definition’’ Renewable and Sustainable

Energy Reviews 21, pp.153–164, (2013).

[2] http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/publications/weo-2012/

http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/ieo/ 10/07/2014

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ World_population 07/08/2014

[4] M. K. Dixit, J. L. Fernandez-Solıs, S. Lavy, C. H. Culp, ‘’Identification of parameters

for embodied energy measurement: A literature review’’ Energy and Buildings 42,

pp.1238–1247, (2010).

[5] D. Ürge-Vorsatz, LD. Harvey, S. Mirasgedi, M. D. Levine, ‘’Mitigating CO2

emissions from energy use in the world's buildings’’ Building Research &

Information, 35(4), pp.379-398, (2007).

[6] Ş. Kaypak,’’Küreselleşme Sürecinde Sürdürülebilir Bir Kalkınma İçin Sürdürülebilir

Bir Çevre’’. KMÜ Sosyal ve Ekonomik Araştırmalar Dergisi 13(20), pp. 19-33, (2011).

[7] T. Ramesh, R. Prakash, K. K. Shukla, ‘’Life cycle energy analysis of buildings: An

overview’’ Energy and Buildings 42(10), pp. 1592-1600, (2010).


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[8] T. Ramesh, R. Prakash, K. Kumar. Shukla, "Life cycle energy analysis of a

multifamily residential house: a case study in Indian context" Open Journal of Energy

Efficiency 2:34, (2013).

[9] R. Fay, G. Treloar, U. Iyer-Raniga, ‘’Life-cycle energy analysis of buildings: a case

study’’Building Research & Information, 28(1), pp. 31-41. (2000).

[10] M. K. Dixit, J. L. Fernandez-Solıs, S. Lavy, C. H. Culp, ‘’Need for an embodied

energy measurement protocol for buildings: A review paper’’ Renewable and

sustainable energy reviews, 16(6), pp. 3730-3743. (2012).

[11] W. Wu, H. Yang, D. Chew, Y. Hou, Q. Li, ‘’A Real-Time Recording Model of Key

Indicators for Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions of Sustainable

Buildings’’ Sensors, 14(5), pp. 8465-8484. (2014).

[12] RICS Professional Information, UK’’ Methodology to calculate embodied carbon of

materials’’ 1st edition, information paper IP 32/2012 22/07/2014

[13] L. F. Cabeza, L. Rincon, V. Vilarino, G. Perez, A. Castell, ‘’Life cycle assessment

(LCA) and life cycle energy analysis (LCEA) of buildings and the building sector: A

review’’ Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 29, pp. 394-416. (2014).

[14] R. Sathre, J. O’Connor ‘’Meta-analysis of greenhouse gas displacement factors of

wood product substitution’’ Environmental Science & Policy, 13(2), pp. 104-114.


[15] L. F. Cabeza, C. Barreneche, L. Miro, J. M. Morera E. Bartoli, A. I. Fernández, ‘’Low

carbon and low embodied energy materials in buildings: A review’’ Renewable and

Sustainable Energy Reviews, 23, pp. 536-542. (2013).

[16] J. Monahan, J. C. Powell,’’ An embodied carbon and energy analysis of modern

methods of construction in housing: a case study using a lifecycle assessment

framework’’ Energy and Buildings, 43(1), pp. 179-188. (2011).

[17] B. L. P. Peuportier, ‘’Life cycle assessment applied to the comparative evaluation of

single family houses in the French context’’ Energy and buildings,33(5), pp. 443-450.


[18] G. Treloar, R. Fay, B. Ilozor P. Love’’Building materials selection: greenhouse

strategies for built facilities’’ Facilities, 19(3/4), pp.139-150.(2001).

[19] Z. Alwan, P. Jones,’’ The importance of embodied energy in carbon footprint

assessment’’ Structural Survey, 32(1), pp. 49-60. (2014).

[20] M. M. Khasreen, P. F. Banfill, G. F. Menzies ‘’Life-cycle assessment and the

environmental impact of buildings: a review’’ Sustainability, 1(3), pp. 674-701.


[21] G. J. Treloar, ‘’Extracting embodied energy paths from input–output tables: towards an

input–output-based hybrid energy analysis method’’ Economic Systems

Research, 9(4), pp. 375-391. (1997).


B. Unalan 1,2,3 , A. Celani 2 , H. Tanrivermis 1 , M. Bulbul 1 and A. Ciaramella 2 *



Decarbonisation of the UK Economy and Green Finance inquiry: Positive Money


Positive Money welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Decarbonisation of the UK

Economy and Green Finance inquiry.

We are a not-for-profit research and campaigning organisation, working towards reform of the

money and banking system to support a fair, democratic and sustainable economy. We are

funded by trusts, foundations and small donations.

Our submission makes the following points:

● UK financial services firms are currently acting as a significant hindrance to

decarbonisation efforts both domestically and globally.

● Tougher regulation is necessary to shift lending and investment out of high-carbon

sectors. The focus of government policy must not be limited to supporting green finance,

but also penalising the ‘brown’.

● Disclosure is a crucial first step and regulators must move to a mandatory footing as

soon as possible. However, market forces alone will not have the desired effect.

Regulation should proactively shift lending and investment in line with the government’s

climate goals.

● Closer cooperation between the Treasury and the Bank of England could help to close

the green investment gap.

● Concerns over the green credentials and risk associated with new green financial

instruments must be addressed.

Question 4: What is HMT’s current strategy, and approach to, UK decarbonisation, and is it fit

for purpose?

1. There are two key shortcomings in HMT’s current strategy: i) it does not provide

for the level of public investment to facilitate decarbonisation, and ii) it does not

take account of the role of private finance in driving the high-carbon economy

(discussed further below). The investment programme necessary for

decarbonisation must be led by public finance.

1.1 Huge sums are needed to finance investment to mitigate and adapt to climate

change. ‘Green’ industries need to grow rapidly to transform the economy for the 21st

century, but even other, more conventional sectors – both corporate and household –

have to adjust, including by investing in physical infrastructure. The ‘green investment

gap’ is the difference between these required figures and current flows. The

government’s current approach overestimates the extent to which the green investment

gap will be filled by private finance alone. For example, the recent Business, Energy and

Industrial Strategy Committee recently warned that “the Government has set targets for

energy efficiency without having a clear grasp of how much public investment is required


to meet them.”

1.2 The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has identified five additional target areas

for investment in infrastructure, and estimates a total resource cost to transition of


between 1-2% of GDP per year by 2050, while the Chancellor recently estimated the


cost of reaching a net-zero economy at £1 trillion. It is important to note that every year

that the required investment is delayed and emissions reduction targets are missed, the

cost of transitioning continues to increase.

1.3 The CCC have also acknowledged that such a shift will have to be a simultaneous

transformation of all sectors of the economy. While private finance can and should play a

role, such a deep, broad and rapid transformation will have to be led by active and

interventionist public finance, not least because many of the required investments must

be made for their social, rather than monetary, returns. Accordingly, fiscal rules must be

loosened to allow the government to make full use of its fiscal space and drive the


Question 5: How does HMT work with the Clean Growth Strategy and government departments

to support decarbonisation? Is this working well?

2. The Clean Growth Strategy is insufficient to hit the government’s

decarbonisation targets.

2.1 The CCC estimated that even if the policies in the Clean Growth Strategy are

delivered in full, the government will fall short of meeting its fourth and fifth carbon


budgets. That was prior to the Government’s commitment to bring greenhouse gas

emissions to net zero, suggesting that the gap between the government’s intentions and

its policy programme to deliver them has likely grown even greater.

Question 6: How should HMT’s approach evolve to ensure the Government meets the legally

binding carbon budgets (and the net-zero targets, if applicable)?











3. The Bank of England must prioritise green investments in its asset purchasing

programmes and cooperate with HMT to finance the public spending that is

necessary to close the green investment gap.

3.1 The Bank of England’s ‘market neutral’ corporate bond purchases have previously

reflected a corporate bond market skewed towards a high carbon economy, with nearly

half of the bonds considered eligible for purchase in fossil fuels and energy-intensive



Figure 1: The proportion of assets bought under the Bank of England’s Corporate Bond

Purchase Scheme from high-carbon sectors (large circles) has been greater than would


be proportionate to their gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy.

Size of bubble represents intensity of carbon emissions of each sector. Sectors are classified

according to Eurostat NACE scheme. Darker bubbles represent more carbon intensive sectors

while lighter represent less intensive. Dashed line represents a sectoral share of CBPS

purchases proportionate to GVA.






3.2 In future corporate bond purchasing programmes, the Bank of England should stop

purchasing fossil fuel company bonds and prioritise bonds with certain ESG criteria

instead. A study by Dafermos et al. finds that a green corporate QE programme would


reduce climate-related financial instability and significantly reduce global warming.

3.3 Further, the Bank of England could also purchase green sovereign bonds - were

they to be issued - on secondary markets. A study by Monasterolo and Raberto displays

the many benefits of sovereign green bond issuance, including the crowding in of private

green investment, growth of the green bonds market, and lower exposure to potential


stranded assets.

3.4 Lastly, in even more direct cooperation between the Treasury and the Bank of

England, the latter could purchase zero-interest-bearing perpetual bonds from the former

in order to directly finance deficit spending on green projects. Government spending

should have the added benefit of crowding in private investments on projects that have

high risk and high up-front capital costs.

3.5 The need for direct cooperation between the Bank of England and the Treasury to

mobilise resources for the transition will become more urgent if emissions reduction

targets change in the coming years. The CCC’s recent report already led to a shift from

an 80% reduction target by 2050 to the net-zero target. However, many scientists and

researchers argue that this remains insufficient for the UK to remain within its carbon

budget, calling for a consumption-based approach to measuring emissions and an


emissions pathway that will lead us to net-zero by 2030 or even 2025.

Question 8: What role do UK financial services firms currently play in the decarbonisation of the

economy, (for example, through stewardship, capital allocation to green projects, green financial

products)? What more can they do?

4. UK financial services firms continue to heavily finance fossil fuel companies.

They must rapidly shift their investments from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ assets and

commit to adequately measuring and disclosing their carbon footprints.

4.1 UK financial services firms are currently acting as a significant hindrance to

decarbonisation efforts both domestically and globally, as they continue to directly fund

new fossil fuel extraction projects. This dynamic was totally absent from the terms of








eference for the Green Finance Taskforce, and from the approach laid out in the Green


Finance Strategy.

4.2 Keeping global temperatures under the 1.5℃ safe limit will require the ending of

fossil fuel financing and a massive reallocation of capital, with a green investment gap

estimated in the trillions. However, banks have been pulling in the opposite direction,

increasing their fossil fuel lending by $1.9tn since the Paris agreement in November

2015, with financing on the rise each year. UK banks are the worst in Europe, with

Barclays lending over $85bn and HSBC more than $57bn towards fossil fuels over this

period, including some of the most environmentally destructive energy sources, such as


tar sands oil and arctic drilling. Investment in fossil fuels by these two banks alone over

three years dwarfs the total investment in the UK’s clean energy sector, which has only


recently surpassed £100bn since 2004.

4.3 The UK itself is responsible for approximately 1% of global CO2. However, the City

of London hosts and finances companies which account for a minimum of around 15%

of potential global CO2 emissions, and the financial carbon footprint of the UK is 100


times its own fossil fuel reserves.

4.3 London’s stock markets have become more, not less, carbon intensive in recent

years. Oil, mining and gas companies continue to make up approximately one third of

the total value of the FTSE 100 (up from the region of 10% around the turn of the


millennium) , and Shell and BP are currently the first and third highest valued

companies listed. The top 4 City of London listed fossil fuel companies - Shell, BP, BHP

Billiton and Rio Tinto - in total produced an average of 1,562 million tonnes of CO2


emissions annually between 1988 and 2015. The emissions of these four UK based

companies alone dwarfs the 364.1 million tonnes of CO2 produced inside Britain in



4.4 In addition to driving further investment towards carbon assets, the UK’s financial

sector is failing to direct capital towards low-carbon alternatives. Green bonds listed on

the London Stock Exchange have raised over $29bn since 2015, which represents only



















a small fraction of the financing required to decarbonise the economy. Though 70% of

UK banks now consider climate change as a financial risk, only 10% are taking a


long-term strategic approach to managing the financial risks from climate change.

4.5 UK financial services firms should follow the example of the Platform for Carbon

Accounting Financials (PCAF), a group of 14 Dutch financial institutions working to

develop standardised methodologies to measure the carbon footprint of their financial


activities. This should allow for more consistent and widespread disclosure.

Furthermore, all UK banks should sign on to the UNEP’s Principles for Responsible


Banking, to be launched in September 2019.


Question 9: What steps have UK banks, asset managers, and pension funds taken to ‘green’

their business models, investment strategies and balance sheets, taking into account climate

and transition risks?

5. Companies’ climate-risk disclosures are not sufficiently comprehensive,

frequent, or widespread for financial institutions to make use of them. Mandatory

reporting should be imposed.

5.1 Without comprehensive disclosure it is difficult for finance firms to assess their

exposure to climate risks. A recent global report on the uptake of disclosures under the

Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) showed that the average

number of recommended disclosures per company is just a third of the 11 the TCFD

recommends, while nearly a quarter of large companies have made no TCFD-aligned

disclosures whatsoever. If the current rate of progress continues, the number of

disclosures per company won’t reach the necessary level until 2028, which is far too late.

5.2 The government’s commitment to exploring the appropriateness of mandatory

reporting is welcome, and the TCFD recommendations must be moved to a mandatory

footing as soon as possible. Although the methodologies for calculating climate risk are

complex and still being developed, that is not a reason to delay making them mandatory.

On the contrary: doing so will accelerate the process and good practice will emerge.

Question 11: What prudential risks does climate change pose?












6. Climate change presents two types of immediate risk to the financial sector: i)

‘transition’ risk, meaning the revaluation of assets due to changes and costs

associated with the shift to a low-carbon economy, and ii) ‘physical’ risks,

meaning the damage and resultant loss in value that occurs due to weather and

climate-related events. An additional subsequent risk is the higher leverage

across the private sector that will likely result from an attempt to compensate for

output and capital losses from climate change.

6.1 ‘Transition’ risk results from the revaluation of assets due to changes and costs

associated with the shift to a low-carbon economy. The combined oil reserves of Shell

and BP, if burned, would far exceed the UK’s carbon budget, yet current valuations of

these companies are based on the anticipation of ongoing extraction. The overvaluation


of fossil fuels (or other high-carbon industries) is called the ‘carbon bubble’. Financial

instability will be caused by the inevitable bursting of the bubble, so if we account for

transition risk now, we can - in theory - deflate the carbon bubble in a more managed

and less volatile way. Financial losses from the drop in value of fossil fuels is already

underway: for example, a Carbon Tracker Initiative report showed how the EU’s largest

five power generators collectively lost over 37 per cent of their value from 2008 to 2013.


And projections published by Mercer show that ‘annual returns from the coal

sub-sector could fall by anywhere between 18 per cent and 74 per cent over the next 35

years’. In 2015, the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney identified that “19 per

cent of FTSE 100 companies are in natural resource and extraction sectors, and a

further 11 per cent by value are in power utilities, chemicals, construction and industrial


goods sectors.” As shown in Figure 2, data for the FTSE 100 at the end of March 2018

shows that these proportions have only increased. Lastly, a recent study published by

the Vienna University of Economics and Business finds that of 10 European countries

analysed, the UK has the largest stock of capital – around €85bn – at risk of stranding


from a low-carbon transition. It is not a question of whether transition risk materialises,

but how and when. As the world economy continues to burn fossil fuels, the shock –

when it eventually arrives – will be much more severe.









Figure 2: The share of FTSE 100 companies by market capitalisation in relatively


carbon-intensive sectors has increased over recent years.

*Limited data on power utilities, chemicals, construction & industry

6.2 ‘Physical’ risk is the damage and resultant loss in value that occurs due to weather

and climate-related events like floods and storms. Extreme weather events can have a

dramatic effect even over a relatively short time period. For instance, “total economic

damages for England and Wales from the winter 2013 to 2014 floods were estimated to


be between £1,000 million and £1,500 million.” A further example is the Pacific Gas &

Electric company, which filed for bankruptcy following the wildfires in California in 2017.

The big challenge is how to calculate this type of risk. Given the inherent unpredictability

associated with many aspects of climate change and the damage it will cause, physical

risks are not necessarily calculable and may be better framed as sources of radical


6.3 The International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Renewable Energy Agency

(IRENA) calculate that losses from stranded assets in the upstream energy, electricity

generation, industry and buildings sectors alone would reach $20 trillion, if policy action

is delayed. However these costs could be significantly reduced if decarbonisation efforts

are accelerated, with the IEA and IRENA estimating that such losses would be halved in

scenarios where two-thirds of the global energy supply is provided by renewable sources


by 2050.








6.4 Finally, a recent study on debt and climate change by Bovari et al. identifies high

levels of leverage across the private sector, resulting from likely efforts to compensate

output and capital losses due to the impacts of climate change, as another source of


considerable prudential risk. While this source of risk is as of yet under-acknowledged

in the wider literature, it has the potential to further endanger financial stability beyond

the immediate transition and physical risks discussed above.

Question 12: What is the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority

doing to support decarbonisation and a ‘greening’ of the financial system? (b) What

expectations do (and should) they place on regulated firms about their role in the transition

through their policy and supervisory activities?

7. Voluntary disclosure from financial institutions is insufficient. Mandatory

disclosure guidelines and green credit guidance are necessary.

7.1 Although the PRA and FCA’s moves to improve climate risk disclosures are

welcome, their approach to managing climate risk in the financial system is too heavily

reliant on voluntary disclosure as method of changing behaviour.

7.2 Voluntary disclosure is limited in its ability to generate the required investment for a

transition. Generally, voluntary disclosure does not sufficiently pressure laggards, and it

must be widespread and in consistent form to have some of its desired effects.

Furthermore, many banks that have publicly supported voluntary disclosures have not

meaningfully changed their practices. Therefore, mandatory guidelines for disclosure, for

which there is international precedent, are necessary.

7.3 Going a step further, the Bank of England should engage in credit guidance,

implementing a range of incentives and requirements to guide credit allocation towards

‘green’ investment. A number of examples from other central banks could be adopted in

the UK. For example, green loans in China benefit from preferential interest rates and


the Bank of Bangladesh subsidises and sets mandatory quotas on green lending.

Other credit guidance strategies such as targeted refinancing operations and changes to

collateral requirements can also play an important role.

Question 10: Are there any barriers (regulatory or otherwise) preventing financial services firms

from delivering green finance or investing in ‘green’ assets?





8. There are two key barriers hindering the provision of green finance and

investment in ‘green’ assets: i) a lack of ‘green’ assets and projects in the real

economy, and ii) a lack of consensus over what the ‘green’ label signifies.

8.1 A key barrier to investing in ‘green’ assets is a lack of such assets and projects in the

real economy. For example, while demand for green bonds has been high, issuers have


had trouble identifying green assets and projects to finance. Therefore, it is clear that

direct public policy measures, some of which we have outlined above, are necessary to

support initiation of, and investment in, green projects.

8.2 A second and related barrier is a lack of consensus over what the term ‘green’

actually signifies. Without further discussion, guidance and regulation regarding what

projects merit the green label, we risk seeing carbon-intensive companies being funded

through green instruments. An extreme example of this was seen in 2017 when a

Spanish oil company issued a €500 million green bond to fund efficiency improvements


in its refineries.

8.3 A recent development on this front has been the publication this past June of the EU


taxonomy for sustainable activities. While the taxonomy, put together by the Technical

Expert Group (TEG) on sustainable finance, takes an important step in the right

direction, it has significant shortcomings. Most importantly, the taxonomy does not

address the scale of economic activities and avoids dealing with certain key (and

growing) emitters, such as aviation, by sidelining them as subjects for future research.

8.4 Without a broader and deeper discussion - that goes beyond technical working

groups - on the meaning and use of the ‘green’ label, green finance activities risk

financing projects that are not in line with the Government’s legally binding carbon

budgets. Not only would this run counter to decarbonisation goals, but it would also

threaten the legitimacy of green finance markets.

Question 14: Are there a range of accessible options available to consumers seeking to source

‘green’ financial products across the product suite (for example, mortgages, bonds, investment

products, savings accounts, loans)? Do certain instruments dominate the green finance

landscape, and if so, why?

9. While there is a growing range of green financial products on the market, more

focus should be directed toward the quality rather than the quantity of such










products, in order to avoid a ‘green’ bubble and the financing of high-carbon

projects under the ‘green’ label.

9.1 While the range of ‘green’ financial products on the market has been growing, the

green credentials (as discussed above) and the risk associated with the growth of these

products must be closely monitored and assessed. The growing trend in green

securitisation, for example, with new instruments such as the ‘green’ synthetic


asset-backed security, raises concerns on both of these points.

9.2 The Dutch National Bank (DNB) has issued a report warning that, as with many

technological revolutions of the past, the energy transition risks generating a ‘green’

bubble in which investments become overvalued. This, again, communicates the

importance of regulatory supervision and guidance for green finance markets.

9.3 Accordingly, the DNB’s report warns against the relaxation of supervisory rules for

‘green’ investments in order to incentivise the growth of green finance markets. Such


relaxations include, for example, lower capital requirements for green investments.

Heavily penalizing ‘brown’ investments through higher capital requirements and other

regulation would be the more prudent route to take in the interest of financial stability.

10. Summary:

10.1 There are two key shortcomings in HMT’s current strategy: i) it does not provide for

the level of public investment to facilitate decarbonisation, and ii) it does not take

account of the role of private finance in driving the high-carbon economy. The

investment programme necessary for decarbonisation must be led by public finance.

10.2 Based on CCC estimates, the policies of the Clean Growth Strategy are insufficient

to hit the government’s decarbonisation targets.

10.3 In order to close the green investment gap, the Bank of England must prioritise

green investments in its asset purchasing programmes and cooperate with HMT to

finance public spending on green projects

10.4 UK financial services, which are currently still heavily financing fossil fuel

companies, must rapidly shift their investments from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ assets and

commit to adequately measuring and disclosing their carbon footprints.





10.5 As of yet, companies’ climate-risk disclosures are not sufficiently comprehensive,

frequent, or widespread for financial institutions to make use of them. Mandatory

reporting should be imposed.

10.6 Climate change presents two types of immediate risk to the financial sector: i)

‘transition’ risk, meaning the revaluation of assets due to changes and costs associated

with the shift to a low-carbon economy, and ii) ‘physical’ risks, meaning the damage and

resultant loss in value that occurs due to weather and climate-related events. An

additional subsequent risk is the higher leverage across the private sector that will likely

result from an attempt to compensate for output and capital losses from climate change.

10.7 Voluntary disclosure from financial institutions remains highly insufficient.

Mandatory disclosure guidelines and green credit guidance are necessary.

10.8 There are two key barriers hindering the provision of green finance and investment

in ‘green’ assets: i) a lack of ‘green’ assets and projects in the real economy, and ii) a

lack of consensus over what the ‘green’ label signifies.

10.9 While there is a growing range of green financial products on the market, more

focus should be directed toward the quality rather than the quantity of such products, in

order to avoid a ‘green’ bubble and the financing of high-carbon projects under the

‘green’ label.

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Energy Policy

Volume 111, December 2017, Pages 85-94

Global primary energy use associated with production,

consumption and international trade

X.F. Wu

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a, b b

, G.Q. Chen





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• The energy use of different economic entities in the world economy are


• The systems IOA method is adopted to trace the direct and indirect energy


• The energy traded for intermediate production is 5 times that for final


• Japan and USA are in production- and consumption-oriented trade pattern



Presented in this study is a comprehensive analysis for energy use of different economic entities in

global supply chains, including the exploiter, producer, consumer, intermediate trader and final

trader. The systems input-output analysis method is adopted to trace the direct and indirect energy

use associated with both intermediate production and final consumption activities in the economic

system. In the world economy, 15% of the energy use embodied in trade turns out to be induced by

final consumption, and 85% is attributed to intermediate production. Different trading patterns for

1/2 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301421517305839

different economies are identified with the separation between energy trade for intermediate

production and that for final consumption. For Japan with a production-oriented trading pattern,

intermediate trade should be a top priority in local trade structure adjustment, while final trade needs

more attention for the government in the United States as the country is in a consumption-oriented

trade pattern. This analysis aims to provide an in-depth insight into energy sustainability, as well as a

sound scientific reference for policy making at the regional, national and global scale.

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Global primary energy use associated with production, consumption and

international trade

Article in Energy Policy · December 2017

DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.09.024





2 authors, including:

Xiaofang Wu

Zhongnan University of Economics and Law



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Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Energy Policy

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

Global primary energy use associated with production, consumption and

international trade

X.F. Wu a,b , G.Q. Chen b, ⁎


a Economics School, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan 430073, PR China

b Laboratory for Systems Ecology and Sustainability Science, College of Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, PR China




Input-output analysis



Trade imbalance


Presented in this study is a comprehensive analysis for energy use of different economic entities in global supply

chains, including the exploiter, producer, consumer, intermediate trader and final trader. The systems inputoutput

analysis method is adopted to trace the direct and indirect energy use associated with both intermediate

production and final consumption activities in the economic system. In the world economy, 15% of the energy

use embodied in trade turns out to be induced by final consumption, and 85% is attributed to intermediate

production. Different trading patterns for different economies are identified with the separation between energy

trade for intermediate production and that for final consumption. For Japan with a production-oriented trading

pattern, intermediate trade should be a top priority in local trade structure adjustment, while final trade needs

more attention for the government in the United States as the country is in a consumption-oriented trade pattern.

This analysis aims to provide an in-depth insight into energy sustainability, as well as a sound scientific reference

for policy making at the regional, national and global scale.

1. Introduction

Energy is fundamental to the economic progress and social development.

Over the last 35 years, worldwide energy use has doubled,

contributing significantly to the unprecedented economic growth and

living standards improvement (BP, 2016). The global Gross Domestic

Product (GDP) increased 6-fold and the average income per capita in

the world quadrupled during that period (WB, 2015). In addition to the

great benefits, the implications of such widespread energy consumption

extend across a range of environmental problems. The majority of energy

currently used globally is derived from fossil fuels, such as crude

oil, natural gas and coal, which are also regarded as the dominant

contributors to the air pollutants emissions and the greenhouse gases

emissions (IEA, 2016a; IPCC, 2014). As the key link among the three

pillars of economy, society and environment in sustainable development,

energy use has become the most critical challenge of the world

today (Jones and Warner, 2016).

In this context, extensive researches have been carried out to explore

sustainable energy use. In these studies, indirect energy use has

received great attention (Chen et al., 2017b; Liu et al., 2009). Different

from direct energy use recording a region's energy consumption on its

territory, indirect energy use measures the energy consumed in other

regions to produce the goods and services that are demanded by this

region (Arto et al., 2016). With economic globalization, countries in the

world are closely connected by international trade, making indirect

energy use an increasingly prominent phenomenon. In a recent evaluation

on energy use of Macao, China, the indirect energy use of Macao

is presented to be over 2 times as the direct use (Li et al., 2014). For

Italy, about 70% of the total household final demand is met by the

indirect energy use (Cellura et al., 2011). In comparison the share is

60% in South Korea (Park and Heo, 2007) and 47% in India (Pachauri

and Spreng, 2002).

In order to combine the indirect energy use with the direct one, the

embodied energy was conceptualized in the 1970s as a significant indicator

for estimating the total energy requirements (Chapman, 1974).

For a product or service, embodied energy is defined as the total (direct

plus indirect) primary energy inputs to generate and sustain it

(Costanza, 1980). So far, the embodied energy method has gained wide

application in various economic systems at different scales (Chen and

Chen, 2015; Limmeechokchai and Suksuntornsiri, 2007; Wu et al.,

2016). Most of these previous researches applied the embodied energy

concept to final consumption activities in economic systems, aiming at

identifying the amount of energy embodied in the commodities and

services that are used to meet the consumers’ final demand (Chen and

Chen, 2013). The consumers’ demand is the driving force of economic

production and energy consumption. A clear understanding of each

⁎ Corresponding author.

E-mail address: gqchen@pku.edu.cn (G.Q. Chen).


Received 17 February 2017; Received in revised form 6 September 2017; Accepted 10 September 2017

0301-4215/ © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

consumer's contribution can help track the final destination of energy

resources in global supply chains (David et al., 2011). What's more,

numerous studies have pointed out that high-income countries tend to

play the consumer role in global market, and other countries, especially

emerging countries, become the producers and produce goods to serve

the high-income countries through international trade (Rulli et al.,

2013; Xia et al., 2016). As a result, the consumption-based energy accounting

can greatly encourage the high-income countries to export the

energy-saving and cleaner production technologies to emerging countries,

which is conductive to achieving a reduction in global total energy

use (Guan et al., 2014).

However, regarding the intermediate production, which holds an

equally important position as the final consumption activity in the

economic system, few investigations have been performed on the related

embodied energy use (Johnson and Noguera, 2012; OECD, 2009;

Zhang, 2015). In general, the conventional production-based energy

accounting merely considers the energy resources that are directly used

by local production processes, in line with the territorial-based principle

under the Kyoto Protocol (Peters and Hertwich, 2007; Steininger

et al., 2014). But presently, countries’ economic development is with a

high degree of specialization following the law of comparative advantage

(Hummels et al., 2001). It becomes necessary for the producers

to trade and cooperate with each other. For example, to sustain the

manufacture of motor vehicles in Europe, local motor vehicles producers

import steel as intermediate inputs from steel producers in China.

To produce these steel products, substantial energy resources are consumed

in China. In fact, such trade induced by intermediate production

activities accounts for about two-thirds of global total trade volume, in

magnitude twice the trade for final consumption (Chen and Han, 2015;

Johnson and Noguera, 2012). It is therefore imperative to discuss the

indirect energy use accompanied with the trade of intermediate products

to probe into the producer's indirect effect on energy depletion.

Several organizations and scholars have tried to explore the producers’

indirect responsibility for resource utilization and pollutant

discharge. As early as 1994, the Organization for Economic Co-operation

and Development (OECD) introduced the idea of extended producer

responsibility for the purpose of waste minimization (Gallego and

Lenzen, 2005). According to OECD, producers should bear the responsibility

not only for the direct or on-site environmental impacts

during the production process of their products, but also for the indirect

or off-site impacts associated with upstream activities, such as materials

selection and products design, and downstream activities of treatment

or disposal of the products (OECD, 2001). Afterwards, Peters (2008)

illustrated a detailed calculation for the production-based greenhouse

gas emissions inventory, and the production-based emissions of a region

were defined as the emissions embodied in its final production,

i.e., the production of goods and services for both local and exported

final consumption. On the basis of Peters’ analysis, Kanemoto et al.

(2012) clearly explained the term of production-based inventory, and

redefined it as the total factor used to produce the products for final

consumption. Recently, Liang et al. (2015) presented a downstreamproduction-based

framework, to trace both direct and indirect mercury

emissions caused by the production activities of a nation. In the work of

Chen and Han (2015) regarding arable land use, the indirect land use

associated with intermediate trade is integrated with local direct land

use to compute the production-based land use for each producer. Yet

the indirect energy use of the producers in global supply chains is still


Given the increasingly serious energy crisis worldwide (IEA,

2016b), the present paper places emphasis on primary energy resources,

and aims to provide a systematic analysis of embodied energy

use for the world economy. The direct and indirect energy use of various

economic entities in global market, including the exploiter, producer,

consumer, intermediate goods trader and final goods trader, are

investigated from the embodiment perspective, in order to provide

additional insights for energy conservation and carbon reduction.

2. Methodology and data

2.1. Input-output analysis

Originally proposed as an economic tool to represent the financial

interactions between industries of a nation, the input-output analysis

(IOA) has now developed into a main technique for embodiment accounting

in the environmental field (Miller and Blair, 2009). As this

technique gives a panorama of embodied physical flows for the entire

system, it performs well in studies on the complicated economic system,

especially global economic system (Huysman et al., 2014). Leontief

(1970) firstly extended the economic IOA table to include the environmental

data, which has been widely used and referred to as the

environmentally extended IOA model. In this model, the direct energy

consumption of each economic sector is assigned to be the virtual energy

consumption of the goods and services delivered by the sector to

meet final demand (Chen et al., 2017a; Hertwich and Peters, 2009;

Wiedmann et al., 2013). In this way, one can predict the energy requirement

when there is a change in the final demand for a certain

goods or service. It is noted that the concept of virtual energy in environmentally

extended IOA is only applied to the goods and services

for final consumption, explicitly exclusive to those for intermediate

production (Wu and Chen, 2017).

However, as discussed above, intermediate production and its associated

trade occupy a considerable share in economic activities, and it

is of great importance to uncover the related energy use to help shed

light on how energy resources flow between both sectors and regions

before being used for final consumption. Hence, based on the idea of

“conservation of embodied energy”, Bullard Iii and Herendeen (1975)

proposed a modified IOA scheme and applied the concept of embodied

energy to both intermediate production and final consumption as two

basic components of total outputs. Then Chen and his co-workers

generalized the modified IOA for embodiment analysis for various

ecological endowments, like energy resources (Chen and Wu, 2017),

water resources (Shao et al., 2017), land resources (Chen and Han,

2015), greenhouse gases (Chen et al., 2013), mercury (Chen et al.,

2016) and so on, and termed it as the systems IOA model. In the systems

IOA model, all goods and services, no matter if they are for intermediate

or final use purposes, are considered with energy use hidden or

embodied in them. Therefore, we adopt the systems IOA method in the

present paper, for a systematic analysis of primary energy use by the

globalized economy, with focus on production, consumption and international


2.2. Algorithm

For the world economy as a m-region, n-sector coupled network,


there are totally mn ⋅ entities in the table, as shown in Fig. 1. z ij

( r, s ∈ {1, 2, ... , m}, i, j ∈ {1, 2, ... , n}) is the monetary value of goods

and services sold by Sector i in Region r for intermediate production in

Sector j of Region s, and f rs i

is the monetary value of goods and services

from Sector i, Region r to Region s for final consumption. The gray

segment in Fig. 1 represents the trades of Region 1 with other foreign

regions for both intermediate production and final consumption. The

intermediate goods are defined as the goods that need further processing,

including raw materials, while the final goods do not need further

processing. The energy resources originally exist in the environmental

system, and then are exploited and inputted into the economic system


(Odum, 1996). Hence, e i records the amount of primary energy resources

directly exploited by Sector i in Region r from the natural environment

as the exogenous supply to the economic system.

Embodied energy intensity (ε) is an important indicator. For a

sector, it implies the average amount of direct plus indirect energy

required in the supply chain to produce one unit of goods or service

based on the current technology. In the systems IOA, the embodied

intensity is calculated based on the biophysical input-output balance


X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

Fig. 1. The structure of the input-output table for the world economy.

that the total energy inputs equal the total energy outputs.

m n

m n



i r rs


s= 1 j= 1 s= 1 j= 1 s=

1 (1)

∑∑ j s

ji ∑∑ ij rs ∑

e + ( ε z ) = ε ( z + f )

i r

where ε r i denotes the embodied energy intensity of Sector i in Region r.

With the sectoral embodied energy intensities obtained, the energy

use embodied in intermediate trade (import of EEI p and export of

EEX p ), final trade (import of EEI c and export of EEX c ) and total trade as

a combination of intermediate and final trade (import of EEI and export

of EEX ) can be calculated via multiplying its economic value by the

embodied energy intensity of the corresponding sector.

The energy use embodied in production (EEP) and consumption

(EEC) are therefore presented as


= EEDr

+ EEI − EEX =∑∑( εi r rs

f )


= 1 = 1 (2)

p r p r i



EECr = EEDr + EEIr − EEX


= ∑∑( εj s sr

f )


s= 1 j=

1 (3)



where EEDr

( = ∑ =

e )

i 1 i is defined as the total energy exploited directly

in Region r. EED, EEP and EEC represent three different accounting

methods for regional energy use. The responsibilities of energy use are

ascribed to energy exploitation, final production and final consumption,

respectively, in the three methods. As the primary energy resources are

used by the economic system once they are exploited, EED enunciates

the direct energy use or the direct energy requirements of the region.

EEP describes the direct and indirect energy requirements to sustain

the final productive activities within the region, and thus attributes the

energy use to the producers who produce goods and services for final

consumption. In contrast, EEC determines the total amount of energy

required to maintain the region's final consumptive activities, because

all energy use is assumed to occur with the ultimate goal to deliver the

goods or services for final consumption.

2.3. Data sources

In the present study, the economic input-output table for the world

is adopted from the Eora Database Version 199.82, in which 26 sectors

from 188 regions are included. (Lenzen et al., 2012, 2013). Detailed

information of the regions and sectors are listed in Appendix A and B,

respectively. In an attempt to combine the most recent statistics, the

year of 2013 is chosen for the analysis. The statistics of direct energy




inputs are collected from the International Energy Agency (IEA) World

Energy Statistics and Balances (IEA, 2016c) and BP Statistical Review of

World Energy (BP, 2016). Seven energy sources are included, namely

crude oil, coal, natural gas, biomass, hydroenergy, nuclear energy and

other renewable energy.

3. Results

3.1. Energy use associated with production and consumption

The world economy consumes 5.63E+08 TJ of primary energy resources

(BP, 2016; IEA, 2016c). In order to identify which region is

responsible for the energy use, three different accounting principles as

recorded by the indicators of EED (energy resources exploited directly),

EEP (energy resources embodied in production) and EEC (energy resources

embodied in final consumption), respectively, are adopted in

Fig. 2. According to EED, mainland China, the United States, Russia,

Saudi Arabia and India are the 5 largest exploiters, and together they

are responsible for 51% of global total energy use. In addition, mainland

China is also the largest producer with 1.22E+08 TJ of energy

resources embodied in its production, based on the results of EEP. It

indicates that 1.22E+08 TJ of energy resources are used globally to

sustain the final production activities in mainland China. The United

States is the second largest producer, followed by Japan, India and

Germany. When it comes to EEC, the United States surpasses mainland

China as the largest consumer of embodied energy. The world total

energy use is the same under different accounting principles, however,

the three methods differ by which region is allocated the energy use.

The difference between EEP and EEC is small at the regional level,

because the goods and services used for final consumption in one region

are mainly produced in the same region. For mainland China, the energy

resources embodied in its final production are 9% larger than

those embodied in its final consumption. Due to the price advantage, a

number of commodities ‘made in China’ have poured into the international

market. Therefore, industrial production has become the dominant

force to promote economic development in China. In contrast, the

United States has gradually transferred its energy-intensive industries

to the emerging countries, and domestic consumers’ demand cannot be

fully satisfied by local production. Therefore, the energy use associated

with the production activities in the United States is 7% less than that

associated with its consumption activities. When taking the index of

EED into consideration, an obvious distinction appears. In particular,

the amount of energy exploited in Japan is 1.17E+06 TJ, only 4% and


X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

Fig. 2. Top 20 largest regions regarding (a) EED (energy resources exploited directly), (b) EEP (energy resources embodied in production) and (c) EEC (energy resources embodied in final


3% of those embodied in its production and consumption, respectively.

But for Russia, local energy exploitation is 10.04 and 9.08 times those

embodied in the production and consumption, respectively. It can be

seen that the size of a region's economy is decoupled from its energy

exploitation, which depends on the available energy resource locally.

3.2. Energy use associated with trade

The global energy use embodied in trade is calculated as 5.19E+08

TJ, of which 85% is traded for intermediate production, while 15% is

attributed to final consumption. The energy use embodied in the trade

for intermediate production is more than 5 times that in the trade for

final consumption. Evidently, a partial accounting of energy use associated

with final trade cannot give a complete picture of global energy

trade. For the 188 regions, energy trade embodied in intermediate

production and final consumption are quantified and presented in

Appendix C.

In the intermediate trade, Japan, the United States, mainland China,

South Korea and Germany are the largest net importers. For these 5

regions, the sectoral contributions to their imports and exports in intermediate

trade are analyzed respectively in Fig. 3 to help understand

the trade structure in these regions. The 26 sectors are aggregated for

illustration purpose, with details shown in Appendix B. 74% of the

intermediate import in Japan is contributed by the import from mining

industries in other regions. Due to the critical shortage of local energy

resources, Japan imports large quantities of energy resources from

foreign regions. As the mining industry plays a key role in energy resources

supply for the economic system, it becomes the major source of

imported energy in Japan. In addition, 9.70E+06 TJ of emboided energy

use is exported by Japan, of which 87% is concentrated on the

industry of heavy manufacturing, including the electronic products

manufacturing industry and the motor industry, which are two pillar

industries in Japanese economy. For the United States, 5.83E+07 TJ of

energy use is imported as intermediate inputs for local production,

while 2.95E+07 TJ is exported as intermediate inputs for production in

foreign regions. The mining industry is the second largest contributor to

its intermediate export. The shale revolution in the United States has

greatly improved the relation between energy supply and demand, and

energy resources mined by the United States are gradually entering the

international market (Wang et al., 2014).

The 5 largest net exporters in intermediate energy trade are Russia,

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and Iran, which are also the 5 largest net

exporters in total energy trade, revealing the great influence of intermediate

trade on total trade. The 5 regions feature a similar export

structure as their intermediate exports are dominated by the mining

industry in Fig. 3.

With respect to the trade of goods for final consumption, a different

scene emerges. Fig. 4 depicts the balance of final trade in embodied

Fig. 3. Balance of energy use embodied in imports and exports of

the largest net importers/exporters in intermediate trade

(Sectoral information is provided in Appendix B.).


X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

Fig. 4. Balance of energy use embodied in imports and exports of

the largest net importers/exporters in final trade (Sectoral information

is provided in Appendix B.).

energy use for the top 5 largest net importers and exporters. Different

from the major net importers in intermediate trade, whose imports are

mainly from the mining industry for intermediate production, the net

importers in final trade primarily import goods from the manufacturing

industry in foreign regions. The United States is the largest net importer

in final trade, with 65% of its import from the industry of heavy

manufacturing, and 26% from the industry of light manufacturing.

Hong Kong, one of Asia's highly developed cities, is the third largest net

importer in final trade, which results from its resource conditions and

economic structure. In practical terms, the supply of locally exploited

energy in Hong Kong is extremely insufficient, and most of its energy

use is imported. Moreover, Hong Kong's economy has become increasingly

oriented towards the tertiary industry. Its energy-intensive

manufacturing firms have been migrated to mainland China (Chow,

2010). Therefore, among its import for final consumption, 83% are

from the manufacturing sectors.

The top 5 largest net exporters in final energy trade are mainland

China, Netherlands, Belgium, South Korea and Germany. In contrast to

the unified export structure for the leading net exporters in intermediate

trade, the export markets of the net exporters in final trade

show a structural diversity. In Netherlands, the tertiary industry, including

the industries of service, transport and others considered in

Fig. 4, makes up the largest component of its energy export. The tertiary

industry is usually regarded as a low-energy consumption industry, and

this is true when only the on-site energy consumption is considered.

The off-site energy consumption of the tertiary industry, however, can

be surprisingly intensive because the industries in today's economy are

highly interconnected.

3.3. Trade connections

Inter-regional trade causes the transfers of embodied energy use,

which are important for balancing regional energy budget and for understanding

the drivers of energy use. Shown in Fig. 5 are the major

inter-regional embodied energy fluxes in terms of intermediate trade

and final trade. The world economy is divided into 13 regions. In Fig. 5,

China includes the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan; Association

of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) includes 10 member states;

the European Union (EU) includes 28 member states; the information of

the other 10 regions can be found in Appendix A. In intermediate trade,

Russia stands out because of its huge export volume of intermediate

materials. The largest export flow from Russia goes to EU, which is the

biggest intermediate importer of embodied energy among the 13 regions.

By contrast, EU and China hold the dominant positions as the

leading exporters in final trade, while the United States is the largest

final importer. Among all these final trade flows, the largest flow is

related to the export from China to the United States. 1.24E+07 TJ of

embodied energy is exported from China, of which 29% is to the United

States and 22% to EU. As for the United States, both its biggest import

and export market is Canada in the intermediate trade. But in the final

trade, China becomes the leading supplier of imported embodied energy

use for the United States, and EU is the leading receiver of the

United States’ export. Russia occupies a smaller part of the circle in final

trade (Fig. 5(b)) than that in intermediate trade (Fig. 5(a)), because the

export of Russia is dominated by energy products, like oil and oil

products, which are mostly used for intermediate production instead of

final consumption.

In Fig. 6, the net trade relationships between the major regions are

portrayed for both intermediate and final trade. In intermediate trade,

the United States, EU and Russia are shown as the world's dominant

trading centers. Russia acts as a supplier of embodied energy because

the energy embodied in its intermediate import is larger than that in its

intermediate export, while the United States and EU are two receivers

of embodied energy.

In final net trade, the United States is still a typical receiver, but EU

turns into a net exporter and Russia becomes a net importer. It is noticed

that the arrow between Russia and EU in final trade is in a different

direction with that in intermediate trade. Russia exports intermediate

materials to EU, but imports finished products from EU. This

phenomenon can also be found in the trade between Saudi Arabia and

EU and the trade between the African regions and China.

4. Discussions

4.1. Energy use projection

In Section 3.1, the energy use associated with production (EEP) and

consumption (EEC) have been illustrated for the countries and regions

under investigation. Projection of energy use is necessary for developing

national energy policies aimed at minimizing the impact from the

international market. Therefore, EEP and EEC of ten highlighted regions

during 2013–2040 are estimated in Fig. 7(a) and Fig. 7(b), respectively.

The estimation is made based on the statistics and projection (reference

case projection) provided in International Energy Outlook (EIA, 2016a),

where regional energy consumption by sectors, including residential,

commercial, industrial and transportation sectors, are recorded from

2012 to 2040. The reference case projection in International Energy

Outlook is a business-as-usual trend estimate, which reflects a scenario

assuming that current laws and regulations remain unchanged during

the projection period. To shed light on the producer and consumer

behaviors, residential and commercial energy use are aggregated as

direct energy use for final consumption, while industrial and transportation

energy use are aggregated as direct energy use for intermediate

production. Here, two ratios, i.e., the ratio of embodied energy

use associated with production to direct energy use for intermediate

production, and the ratio of embodied energy use associated with

consumption to direct energy use for final consumption are introduced.

The two ratios quantify the relationship between direct and indirect

energy use, which are related to the international trading pattern and


X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

thought to be unsustainable because it relies too heavily on the export

and investment, but little on domestic consumption. Nowadays, China

is committed to expanding domestic consumption demand, in order to

create a consumption-led economy for stable economic development in

the long term (Zhang et al., 2016b). Therefore, a consumption boom is

predicted to come to China in the near future. Energy use in India is the

world's fastest growing (Fig. 7), with India projected to replace Japan as

both the world's third largest producer (EEP) by 2028 and third largest

consumer (EEC) by 2031. Helped by the decline in global oil prices,

India's economy has experienced a fast development in recent years

(Hölscher et al., 2010), making ‘made in India’ increasingly popular in

international markets, further increasing India's energy use. Although

India has been assumed to follow China's development path, the two

indicators of EEP and EEC show that Indian consumers dominated their

economy by 2014, vs 2028 projected for China's economy (Fig. 7).

4.2. Energy trade imbalance

Fig. 5. Embodied energy connections between major economies by (a) intermediate trade

and (b) final trade (The China region includes the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and

Taiwan; ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations; EU represents the

European Union. Other regions are aggregated and detailed information can be found in

Appendix A. The trade relations between every two economies are portrayed by the

chords. The different thicknesses at the two ends of the chord respectively represent the

two connected economies’ export volumes of embodied energy to each other. The chord is

colored by the larger exporter of the two.).

energy efficiency. With the expansion of international trade, the two

ratios of the region are expected to increase as there will be more indirect

energy use embodied in trade. However, the energy efficiency

tends to be improved, which will lower the ratios. In light of this, for

each region, the two ratios are assumed to keep constant during the

focused period as in previous studies (Chen and Chen, 2011).

In 2013 China's EEP is 13% larger than that of the United States and

is projected to be 57% larger by 2040. Production activities play a

dominant role in China's economy of 2013, but the situation will change

in 2028 when for the first time the energy use related to the consumption

activities in China is expected to exceed that related to the

production activities there. The fast-growing economy in China is

An increasing scale of global trade imbalance has been witnessed

over the years, which is recognized as a source of tensions between

nations and a threat to globalization (Caballero and Krishnamurthy,

2009). According to the comparative advantage theory, regions striving

for a competitive advantage in the production or delivery of energyintensive

goods or services are more likely to be net exporters of embodied

energy (Prell and Feng, 2016). Such energy imbalance occurs in

trade for both intermediate production and final consumption, and a

comparison between the two energy trade imbalances is made in Fig. 8.

The net import volume of embodied energy is used to indicate the region's

trade imbalance.

In Fig. 8, the 188 regions are represented by the spheres in the

rectangular coordinate, and the sphere's size is related to the region's

gross trade volume of embodied energy. With the separate assessment

of the energy use trade, different kinds of trading patterns are noticed.

The United States, Japan and the United Kingdom are net importers in

both intermediate trade and final trade, while Canada and India are net

exporters in both kinds of trade. Mainland China, Germany and South

Korea are net importers in intermediate trade but net exporters in final

trade, in contrast to Russia and Saudi Arabia as net exporters in intermediate

trade but net importers in final trade. For the world as a whole,

energy use embodied in intermediate trade is about 5 times that embodied

in final trade. Hence, two dotted lines with respective slopes of

1/5 and −1/5 are drawn to represent the global general trading pattern.

For the economies that lie between the two lines and are close to

the horizontal axis, like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Germany,

they are in a production-oriented trading pattern. In international

trade, these nations tend to sell or buy the basic materials and the semimanufactured

goods, which are mainly used for intermediate production

instead of directly entering final consumption. On the other hand,

the United States, the United Kingdom, India and mainland China are

found in a consumption-oriented trading pattern. Their trades mainly

focus on the finished products that are directly used for final consumption.

The traditional analyses on international energy trade merely

confine to the trade of energy commodities themselves, and fail to take

account of the indirect energy trade related to non-energy goods. The

embodiment research discussed here supplements direct trade theory

and clarifies energy trade imbalances.

4.3. Distinctive trading economies

The United States and China are the two biggest economies in international

trade of embodied energy, which occupy 10% and 9% of the

world's total trade, respectively. For the two countries, the geographic

and sectoral patterns of their embodied energy trades are analyzed in

further detail in Fig. 9. For the United States, 26% of its total import is

from North America, followed by the Asia Pacific (19%) and South &

Central America (16%). The mining industry and the heavy


X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

Fig. 6. Major net inter-regional transfers of embodied energy use in (a) intermediate trade and (b) final trade (The numbers expressed by arrows, whose unit is million terajoule energy

use, indicate the amounts of net flows of embodied energy use.).

manufacturing industry in the foreign regions serve as the two biggest

sources of imported goods for the United States. About half of the imported

goods are products produced by foreign mining industry, and

these goods are mostly required by local heavy manufacturing industry

for intermediate production. The import for its final consumption is

dominated by the products produced in the heavy and light industry.

The embodied energy import of the United States reaches 7.13E

+07 TJ, nearly 3 times of its direct energy import (2.60E+07 TJ) (EIA,

2016b). In recent years, the shale gas revolution has greatly improved

the security of energy supplies in the United States (Lozano Maya,

2013). Its direct import of primary energy has continued to decline

since 2007 (EIA, 2016b). However, as the United States also needs to

import a number of non-energy goods, such as energy-intensive industry

products from foreign markets, whether a decline can also be

witnessed in its embodied energy import remains to be explored.

In China, the heavy manufacturing industry is the biggest receiver

of the imported goods, especially the goods imported from the mining

industry in foreign regions, led by the Middle East. Among the United

States’ export to North America, only 14% is used for final consumption,

and the remaining 86% is for intermediate production. But for

China, most of its export to North America is to sustain the final

consumption there. Being the largest developing country in the world,

China's economic development and energy demand have been the focus

of the world's attention (Xia et al., 2014). China's demand for energy

resources has long been blamed in the context of climate change (Zhang

et al., 2016a). But what is always overlooked is that massive embodied

energy resources are also exported by China along with the export of

commodities ‘made in China’. In total, 3.77E+07 TJ of embodied energy

is exported by China, about one-third of its total exploitation. This

embodiment analysis on energy trade can contribute to recent efforts to

better understand the role of each economy in global energy market.

5. Conclusions and policy implications

Sustainable energy use has become a key issue in sustainable development

(Urbaniec et al., 2017). In the times of globalization dominated

by international trade, regional energy use should not only be

confined to the direct use in terms of the on-site consumption of energy

products, but also include the indirect use related to the use of nonenergy

products that require energy inputs during the products’ production

processes. In both intermediate production and final consumption

activities of the economic system, this indirect effect can be


X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

Fig. 7. Energy resources embodied in (a) production (EEP) and (b) consumption (EEC) for

the ten regions during 2013–2040 (Australia and New Zealand represents the combined

results of Australia and New Zealand, while Mexico and Chile refers to the combined

results of Mexico and Chile, in line with the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)


witnessed. Based on the embodiment concept, this study provides additional

insights into the energy use associated with intermediate production,

final consumption, intermediate trade and final trade via the

systems input-output method.

For mainland China as the biggest producer, the energy use embodied

in its intermediate and final goods exports accounts for approximately

one-third of its total exploitation. In contrast, the United States

is shown to be the leading consumer, and more than three-fifths of its

total (direct and indirect) energy requirements are attributed to the

import of intermediate and final goods. Based upon the traditional

direct energy accounting, the producers and consumers tend to focus on

the reduction of local energy use. The embodiment accounting, however,

takes account of the transfer of energy use from the downstream

regions to the upstream regions in global supply chains. The producers’

and consumers’ responsibilities of energy saving and carbon reduction

are therefore extended to include those of the upstream regions. This

leads the high-income countries to improve the production technologies

in the middle- and low-income countries, by sharing their advanced

science and technology. The unified and systematic accounting framework

for embodied energy described here is of essential importance to

implement such extended responsibility at the global scale.

India is experiencing robust economic growth and is projected to

replace Japan as the world's third largest producer and consumer of

embodied energy in 2028 and 2031, respectively. Some argue that India

is the next China. But the consumption demand in India exceeds its

production demand 14 years before that is projected to happen in

China. Domestic consumption, investment and exports are known as

three main drivers of national economic growth. China's development

mode has long been believed to be unsustainable because its economic

growth is dependent upon the investment and exports (Fu et al., 2014).

This problem, however, doesn’t show up in India. In these regards,

Chinese government should study the development trajectories of different

nations, including the latecomers, to achieve the economically

healthy development goals.

Overall, the energy use embodied in international trade has reached

ninety percent of global energy use, in which the energy use trade induced

by intermediate production is about five times that for final

consumption. Different trading patterns are noticed when the energy

trades embodied in intermediate production and final consumption are

discussed separately. Russia and Saudi Arabia are the two biggest net

exporters of embodied energy in intermediate trade, but in final trade

they become net importers with significant dependence on foreign energy.

There are few discussions on the issue of energy security for

Russia and Saudi Arabia as they are energy-abundant countries (Warner

and Jones, 2017). However, their remarkable indirect energy imports in

final trade make this issue noteworthy, because any obstacle to the final

imports can impact the daily life of local resident immediately.

Therefore, the scale of non-energy goods import and the structure of

final goods import should arouse the attention of local governments. In

addition, mainland China is a net importer in intermediate trade but a

net exporter in final trade, acting just as a factory absorbing intermediate

goods and producing final goods. Japan's energy trade imbalance

is mainly caused by intermediate trade while final trade contributes

the most to the United States’ trade imbalance. Therefore,

intermediate and final trade should be regarded as the focus,

Fig. 8. Imbalance in the intermediate trade and final

trade (The size of the sphere represents the corresponding

economy's gross trade volume of embodied



X.F. Wu, G.Q. Chen Energy Policy 111 (2017) 85–94

respectively, in the trade structure adjustment for Japan and for the

United States, in order to address the trade imbalance issue.

As the size of a region's economy has been greatly decoupled from

its direct energy use for production or consumption, this embodiment

analysis adds to the growing literature showing the importance of

considering indirect effects in the pursuit of global energy conservation

and carbon reduction.


This research is supported by the State Key Program for Basic

Research [973 Program, Grant no. 2013CB430402] and the National

Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant no. 51579004].

Appendix A. Supplementary material

Supplementary data associated with this article can be found in the

online version at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2017.09.024.


Fig. 9. Regional and sectoral contributions to energy trade embodied in (a) the imports of

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exports of China (The geographic distribution of import goods required by the sectors

within (a) the United States and (c) China are described by the Sankey diagrams. The

sectoral structure of export goods from (b) the United States and (d) China driven by

foreign regions’ demand are analyzed by the Sankey diagrams.).

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Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428

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Energy Policy

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

Analysis of energy embodied in the international trade of UK

Xu Tang a,n , Simon Snowden b , Mikael Höök c

a School of Business Administration, China University of Petroleum, Beijing 102249, China

b Management School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 7ZH, England

c Global Energy Systems, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, 752 36, Villavägen 16, Sweden


c Model is established to examine UK’s energy imports embodied in trade.

c UK’s embodied energy imports have exceeded its exports every year since 1997.

c UK’s net embodied energy imports from China are the largest accounting for 43%.

c UK needs to reconsider its energy utilization and efficiency in the light of trade.

article info

Article history:

Received 2 August 2012

Accepted 7 February 2013

Available online 5 March 2013


Embodied energy

International trade

Energy security


Interest in the role embodied energy plays in international trade and its subsequent impact on energy

security has grown. As a developed nation, the UK’s economic structure has changed from that of a

primary producer to that of a primary consumer. Although the UK’s energy consumption appears to

have peaked, it imports a lot of energy embodied in international trade alongside the more obvious

direct energy imports. The UK has seen increasing dependency on imported fossil energy since the UK

became a net energy importer in 2005. In this paper an energy input–output model is established to

calculate not only the amount of fossil energy embodied in UK’s imports and exports, but also the sector

and country distributions of those embodied fossil energy. The research results suggest the following:

UK’s embodied fossil energy imports have exceeded embodied fossil energy exports every year since

1997, UK embodied energy imports through the so-called ‘Made in China’ phenomena are the largest

accounting for 43% of total net fossil energy imports. If net embodied fossil energy imports are

considered, the gap between energy consumption and production in UK is much larger than commonly

perceived, with subsequent implications to the UK’s energy security.

& 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

The UK has consistently ranked as one of the top ten wealthiest

states by GDP (Table 1). It is a member of those select

countries known as the ‘developed’ nations. This privileged global

position is reflected in the UK’s change in economic structure

from a primary producer, to a primary consumer, with an

economy dominated by the service sector. The UK is a primary

consumer of energy and, although for a number of years at the

end of the 20 th century it was a net exporter of energy, the first

decade of the 21 st century has seen it transform into a net

importer of energy.

The UK economy, when examined by turnover, displays a

service sector bias representing nearly 70% of business transacted

n Corresponding author. Tel.: þ86 13810276253; fax: þ86 10 89731752.

E-mail addresses: tangxu08@yahoo.cn, tangxu19851007@163.com (X. Tang).

(Fig. 1). Yet the largest consumers of energy – within this service/

industry split – tend to be those industries involved in the

production of physical goods (the relative weighting of which is

illustrated in Fig. 2), but both of these sectors lag Transport

and Domestic energy use when looked at the economy as a whole

(see Fig. 3).

High oil prices, and a general upward shift in energy costs have

provided fresh impetus to examine energy security (Augutis et al.,

in press; Chester, 2010; Hughes, 2012; Mulligan, 2010) with the

IEA expressing unprecedented concern in their 2008 World

Energy Outlook (IEA, 2008). Energy security is often seen as a

national (Farah and Rossi, 2011; Kim et al., 2011, Sovacool et al.,

2011; Takase and Suzuki, 2011) or regional (Doukas et al., 2011)

issue where the nation state must act to protect the energy supply

of the country, although some would argue the economy will look

after itself (Markandya and Pemberton, 2010). There is some

discussion linking energy security to global carbon emissions

controls (Gang et al., 2012; Mulligan, 2011), however, there is

0301-4215/$ - see front matter & 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428 419

Table 1

Top ten states by GDP in the world (Unit: Billion US$).

Source: International Monetary Fund, 2012.

Country 2010 2011

United States 14,527 15,065

China 5878 6988

Japan 5459 5855

Germany 3286 3629

France 2563 2808

Brazil 2090 2518

United Kingdom 2250 2481

Italy 2055 2246

Russia 1480 1885

India 1632 1843


Producing Sectors


Service Sectors

Fig. 1. UK economy split between service and producing sectors.

Source: Department for Business Innovation and Skills (2012) (Data from 2011

based upon turnover—value of sales, work done, and services rendered).

Food,beverages and



Paper,printing and



Iron and steel and

non-ferrous metals




and equipment






Fig. 2. UK’s energy consumption by main industrial group in 2010.

Source: MacLeay et al. (2011).

Other industries


growing recognition that in a globally integrated trade environment,

focusing on the national aspect of energy security may

prove short sighted (Qi, 2011). Interest in the role of international

trade in environmental impacts (Liu et al., 2010; Peters and

Hertwich, 2006) has grown and there is a clear, focus on

embodied energy (Atkinson and Hamilton, 2002; Bullard and

Herendeen, 1975; Chen et al., 2011; Jiang et al., 2011; Li

et al., 2007; Machado et al., 2001; Tang et al., 2011; Wyckoff

and Roop, 1994), and carbon emissions (Chen and Chen, 2011;

Hetherington, 1996; Liu and Ma, 2011). It has been argued that

the differences in energy consumption between different energy

models can be accounted for by the way they handle embodied

energy in imported goods (Wiedmann, 2009). Input/Output models

have proven useful in defining the impact of both direct and

indirect (embodied) energy use (Machado et al., 2001) and the

potential impact on policy (Bordigoni et al., 2012; Liu et al., 2010).

This paper will examine the impactofembodiedenergyfrom

trade on the UK energy imports. The paper will first examine the

economic and energy structures of the UK providing the context for a

discussion of embodied energy in a developed state. There will then

be a section examining the Input/Output methodology employed

followed by a section on the results of this analysis. Discussion of

these results will complete the paper drawing out some of the key

findings and pointing out impacts on policy direction.

1.1. UK energy context

To better understand the impact of embodied energy, the

current economic and energy structures reported in official UK

statistics is outlined. There are many data sets available publicly,

compiled by government departments on a yearly basis, that

provide a good view of trends within the UK economy. These

statistics range from transport data, through to the current

account status of the UK (the so called pink book). Here data

from energy and business have been utilized to provide context to

understanding the impact of embodied energy.

As a developed nation it appears that energy consumption

appears to have peaked at around 160 million tonnes of oil

equivalent per annum (Fig. 3). It has been suggested that whilst

energy consumption appears to have flat-lined, GDP growth has

continued (not withstanding the present economic situation), and

that may suggest to some emerging patterns of sustainable growth,

an upward trend on the so called Kuznets curve (Chowdhury and

Moran, 2012; Spangenberg et al., 2002; Spangenberg, 2010; Turner

and Hanley, 2011).

UK production of the key forms of fossil energy (oil, gas, coal)

all appear to be in decline (Fig. 4).

Between the 1980s to mid 2000s the UK was a net exporter of

energy (except for a dip generated by the Piper Alpha disaster – an


deaths of 167 workers), but is now on a steady upward gradient of

energy imports (Fig. 5). Energy import dependency is defined as net

energy imports divided by final energy consumption, expressed

as a percentage. A negative dependency rate indicates a net export

of energy. Since energy loss – including losses in process – through

energy conversion is not the focus of this paper, all energy consumption

in this paper means primary energy consumption.

Energy consumption intensity can be calculated as energy

consumption per GDP, a widely used indicator to measure the

efficiency of energy use. UK’s energy consumption intensity

which is given as GDP at 2006 prices has been decreasing over

the past 40 years (Fig. 6). Furthermore, the energy efficiency

narrative shows the greatest gains are in the industrial and

service sectors, but transport and domestic use have seen little

in terms of efficiency gains (Fig. 7).

1.2. UK trade context

Overall the 2000s witnessed a declining balance of trade for

the UK as a total, with 2004–2006 showed a reverse trend (Fig. 8).

The monetary figures in Figs. 8–10 are nominal.


X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428



Thousand tonnes of oil equivalent

























Domestic Services(including agriculture) Transport Industry Total

Fig. 3. UK’s final energy consumption since 1980.

Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change (2011).


Million tonnes of oil equivalent








1980 1990 2000 2008 2009 2010

Petroleum Natural gas Coal Primary electricity Renewables Total

Fig. 4. Production of primary fuels in UK.

Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change (2011).

























Fig. 5. UK’s energy import dependency since 1970.

Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change (2011).

When examining the top three trade partners (USA, Germany,

China, respectively), we can see that the UK has managed to

maintain a positive balance of trade with the USA, but that China

has grown as a major source of imports (Fig. 9).

From Fig. 10 it is clear that the balance of trade has worsened,

and over the same period the increase in the balance of trade is

marked, most pronounced in ‘Food, Beverages, and Tobacco’, and

in ‘Manufactured Finished Goods’. Oil trade, a significant proportion

of current energy imports, went from a positive to a negative

balance in 2005.

The official figures provide a picture of the UK as a wealthy

country with high energy efficiency, gas displaying the highest

X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428 421


Tonnes of oil equivalent per £1 million GDP






























Fig. 6. Energy consumption intensity in UK since 1970.

Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change (2011).


























Industrial sector per unit of output

Service sector per unit of value added

Road freight transport per tonne/km

Domestic sector per household

Road passenger transport per passenger/km

Fig. 7. UK’s energy efficiency since 1980.

Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change (2011).


2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011



£s millions





EU Non-EU Total

Fig. 8. Balance of trade in UK.

Source: HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics.


X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428




£s millions




2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011




United States Germany China

Fig. 9. Balance of trade for leading importers in UK.

Source: HMRC Overseas Trade Statistics.




2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

£s millions






Food, beverages and tobacco BQMV

Basic materials ELBK

Total oil BOKL

Coal, gas and electricity BQNF

Total semi-manufactured goods BQMX

Total finished manufactured goods BQMQ

Commodities and transactions not classified according to kind BOKJ Total LQAD

Fig. 10. Balance of trade by goods in UK.

Source: Office for National Statistics (2011).

consumption intensity, but a nation that has recently moved

from a net exporter of energy to a net importer. There is an

increasing balance of trade deficit, especially in the manufactured

finished goods sector, and China is an increasingly important

trade partner.

2. Methodology and data

2.1. Methodology

The input–output (IO) model, useful for analyzing the economic

relationship of linkages among sectors of an economy, was

developed by (Leontief, 1936). In the basic IO model, X which

stands for the total output of an economy can be expressed as the

sum of intermediate consumption (AX) and final consumption (Y)

as follows:

AX þY ¼ X

where, A is the technical coefficient matrix, expressed as follows:



a 11 a 12 ... a 1j ... a 1n

a 21 a 22 ... a 2j ... a 2n

... ... ... ... ... ...

A ¼

a i1 a i2 ::: a ij ... a in

6 ... ... ... ::: ... ... 7



a n1 a n2 ... a nj ... a nn

a ij is the technical coefficient, which can be calculated using:

a ij ¼ x ij

X j




X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428 423

where, x ij are the purchases by sector j of the goods produced by

sector i, y i are the sales from sector i to final demand, and X j is the

total output of sector j.

The solution of Eq. (1) can be expressed as follows:

X ¼ðI AÞ 1 Y ð4Þ

where, I is identity matrix, and the matrix (I–A)

1 is called the

Leontief inverse matrix (the key matrix).

Besides the technical coefficient a ij , a complete consumption

coefficient b ij is also widely used in IO modeling. The parameter b ij

measures how much direct and indirect output from sector i will

be used given each output increase in sector j. Matrix notation can

be used as follows to give a reformulation of the relations:



b 11 b 12 ... b 1j ... b 1n

b 21 b 22 ... b 2j ... b 2n

... ... ... ::: ... ...

B ¼


b i1 b i2 ... b ij ... b in


4 ... ... ... ... ... ... 7


b n1 b n2 ... b nj ... b nn

where, B is the complete consumption coefficient matrix and can

be calculated as follows:

B ¼ðI AÞ 1 I: ð6Þ

2.1.1. Calculation of energy embodied in UK’s exports

Suppose the UK exports a total of n kinds of commodities and

has k export trading partners. Energy embodied in the UK’s

exports E, can be theoretically expressed as follows:

E ¼ Xk

X n

i ¼ 1 j ¼ 1

M ij g j

where, M ij , the data of customs statistics, is the value of commodity

j exported by UK to country i; and g j is the embodied energy

contained in a unit value of commodity j.

So, the calculation of the UK’s embodied energy exports lies

in the embodied energy contained in unit value of export

commodities. The full life-cycle approach is the usual approach

to calculating embodied energy (Chapman, 1974; Venkatarama-

Reddy and Jagadish, 2003; Chen and Chen, 2006), but energy

consumption in all areas of the production chain must be traced,

meaning a laborious, subjective methodology. The input–output

method is therefore an expedient and operable choice when

investigating this aspect of energy consumption. The model to

calculate E which is energy exports embodied in international

trade is established as follows:

E ¼


Y þY I

Y E X n

j ¼ 1

M j b ij

where, C is UK’s energy consumption; Y is the output of energy

sector; Y I is energy sector’s imports from other countries; Y E is the

energy sector’s exports to other countries. Y is monetary unit,

(C/YþY I Y E ) measuring the energy content of the energy sector’s

total output for domestic use. Due to the unit measurement of IO

tables being monetary, the economic relationship between energy

sectors and other sectors can be transferred into material connection

via the (C/YþY I Y E ) ratio. M j is exports in sector j, b ij

is sector j’s complete consumption coefficient from the energy

sector (sector i).

2.1.2. Calculation of energy embodied in UK’s imports

The calculation method for energy embodied in imports is

more complicated. In theory, energy consumption coefficients of



imported commodities from different countries should be calculated

based on each country’s input–output table respectively.

However, UK has more than one hundred trade countries, and it

would prove difficult to calculate energy consumption coefficients

for each commodity according to the each countries’ input–

output tables.

For the sake of simplification, this paper adopts the method of

‘‘substitution effect’’ (Liu, 2007; Qi et al., 2008) with improvement.

The ‘‘substitution effect’’ method refers to the calculation of

embodied energy in UK’s imports based on the complete energy

consumption coefficients of the UK’s industrial sectors because

imported commodities avoid domestic energy consumption in the

production process.

However, the implied basic assumption of the ‘‘substitution

effect’’ is that the technical level of commodity processing in

exporting countries is the same as the importing country. It therefore

does not reflect the actual situation from a point of view of

energy consumption. Usually there is a significant difference in

energy consumption efficiency among countries at different levels of

development. For commodities of equal value, energy consumption

in developing countries is much higher than it is in developed

countries. However, there are problems in obtaining the energy

consumption efficiency differences for each commodity produced in

the UK and that of its import trade partners. Limitations in the

available data leaves measuring the differences of embodied energy

in unit of UK’s imported and exported commodities according to the

ratio of the world average energy consumption intensity to UK’s

energy consumption intensity discussed in this paper. The UK is

excluded when calculating the world average energy consumption

intensity. The calculation results show that in 2011 the world

average oil and gas consumption intensity except UK is 1.172t per

10000$, and it is 0.614 for coal. UK’s energy consumption intensity is

much lower compared with the world average, oil and gas, coal

consumption intensities of UK are 60.1% and 22.6% of the world

average level respectively.

The model to calculate UK’s energy imports embodied in

international trade I is established as follows:

I ¼


Y þY I

Y E X n

j ¼ 1

I j b ij Q w

Q c

where, (C/YþY I Y E ) measures the energy contents of each output

of energy sector for UK’s domestic use; I j is UK’s imports in sector

j; Q W is the average energy consumption intensity in the world

except UK; Q C is UK’s energy consumption intensity.

2.1.3. Calculation of net energy exports embodied in UK’s

international trade

Based on Eqs. (8) and (9), UK’s net energy exports embodied in

international trade E net can be calculated as follows:

E net ¼ E

I ¼


Y þY I

Y E X n

j ¼ 1

M j b ij

I j b ij Q


Q c



Eq. (10) can be revised further to calculate the net energy

exports embodied in international trade from the UK to country A

as follows:




< X n

E A ¼

Y þY I Y E ðb ij w j Þ M A I A Q =




Q c ;

j ¼ 1

where, E A is the net energy export embodied in international

trade from UK to country A; w j is the weight of sector j’s output in

national output; M A is UK’s exports to country A; I A is UK’s

imports from country A.


X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428

Table 2

UK’s fossil energy imports and exports embodied in international trade. (Unit:

Million tones oil equivalent).








Embodied oil

and gas


Embodied oil

and gas


1997 15.4 6.5 28.6 21.9 15.6

1998 16.0 5.8 30.0 20.4 19.8

1999 16.6 5.2 31.6 21.0 22.0

2000 18.7 6.3 35.1 24.1 23.4

2001 19.8 6.9 37.4 24.7 25.5

2002 20.1 5.9 37.7 22.6 29.3

2003 19.9 5.6 35.3 20.4 29.1

2004 20.1 4.8 34.7 18.6 31.4

2005 21.7 5.1 36.3 19.5 33.5

2006 23.7 6.0 38.3 20.2 35.7

2007 21.9 4.8 34.6 17.1 34.6

2008 22.5 5.3 35.5 20.4 32.2

2009 20.8 5.1 32.4 22.1 26.0

2010 24.3 5.7 36.9 24.5 31.0

2011 26.3 6.4 39.9 27.3 32.5

Table 3

Reason analysis for UK’s embodied fossil energy imports change.


Change rate of embodied

fossil energy imports (%)

Change rate of

trade imports


1998 4.5 3.0 1.5

1999 4.8 6.7 1.7

2000 11.7 12.3 0.7

2001 6.2 4.5 1.6

2002 1.2 2.6 1.4

2003 4.6 2.6 7.3

2004 0.8 6.2 6.7

2005 6.1 11.2 4.7

2006 6.6 12.3 5.2

2007 8.7 0.7 8.1

2008 2.5 10.9 7.6

2009 8.2 8.8 0.6

2010 15.1 13.1 1.6

2011 8.1 8.3 1.1

Net embodied

fossil energy


Change rate of fossil

energy consumption

intensity (%)

2.2. Data

The data used in this study are mainly based on the United

Kingdom Input–Output Analytical Tables 2005 (Detailed Version)

released by the UK Office for National Statistics on August 2011.

The data from the Input–Output Analytical Tables are consistent

with UK National Accounts (the Blue Book) 2009 and the UK

Balance of Payments (the Pink Book) 2009.

To calculate and compare energy including oil, gas and coal

consumption intensity in the same caliber, energy consumption

and GDP data are taken from the (BP, 2011) and (World Bank,

2011) respectively.

3. Results

3.1. Trend of UK’s embodied fossil energy imports and exports

The Office for National Statistics in the UK publishes Input–

output supply and use tables every year. It also publishes

Input–output (I–O) Analytical Tables, derived from the annual

Input–output supply and use tables. The latest I–O Analytical

Tables are from 2005 released in August 2011. According to Eqs.

(8) and (9), UK’s fossil energy imports and exports embodied in

international trade can be calculated (Table 2).

It can be found from Table 2 that both the UK’s coal and ‘oil and

gas’ embodied fossil energy imports exceed embodied fossil energy

exports in every year of the period covered. So the UK is a net

embodied fossil energy importer. Table 2 also shows that the UK

imports, by volume, more embodied ‘oil and gas’ than embodied

coal, however, from the perspective of net imports, the UK imports

more embodied coal than embodied ‘oil & gas’, because the UK’s coal

consumption intensity is much lower than the world average, and

the gap of ‘oil and gas’ consumption intensity between the UK and

the world is not as large (see above).

Table 3 shows the reason analysis for UK’s embodied fossil

energy imports change. It can be found from Table 3 that the

reasons for UK’s embodied fossil energy imports increase or

decline can be divided into two parts. One is the amount of trade

imports change, and the other is the fossil energy consumption



Million tonnes oil equivale




















Fossil Energy Consumption

Fossil Energy Production

Net Embodied Fossil energy Imports

Fossil energy consumption(including net imports of embodied fossil energy)

Fig. 11. UK’s fossil energy consumption and production if considering net embodied fossil energy imports.

X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428 425

Table 4

Top 10 sectors in UK to import net embodied coal in 2011.

Rank Sector Net embodied coal imports

(Thousand tones oil equivalent)

Percentage of net embodied

coal imports (%)

1 Electricity production and distribution 5581 33.2

2 Structural clay products, cement, lime and plaster 1168 6.9

3 Iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, metal castings 738 4.4

4 Motor vehicles 652 3.9

5 Paper and paperboard products 623 3.7

6 Sugar 500 3.0

7 Coke ovens, refined petroleum and nuclear fuel 444 2.6

8 Construction 399 2.4

9 Gas distribution 388 2.3

10 Hotels, catering, pubs etc 357 2.1

Table 5

Top 10 sectors in UK to import net embodied oil and gas in 2011.

Rank Sector Net embodied oil and gas imports

(Thousand tones)

Percentage of net embodied

oil and gas imports (%)

1 Coke ovens, refined petroleum and nuclear fuel 7137 34.9

2 Electricity production aaaand distribution 4287 20.9

3 Gas distribution 1152 5.6

4 Hotels, catering, pubs etc 510 2.5

5 Iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, metal castings 496 2.4

6 Health and veterinary services non-market 486 2.4

7 Public administration and defence non-market 476 2.3

8 Air transport 435 2.1

9 Paper and paperboard products 424 2.1

10 Motor vehicles 391 1.9

Table 6

Top 10 sectors in UK to import net embodied fossil energy in 2011.

Table 7

Top 10 sectors in UK to export net embodied fossil energy in 2011.

Rank Sector Net embodied fossil energy

imports (Thousand tones

oil equivalent)

Percentage of net

embodied fossil

energy imports (%)

Rank Sector Net embodied fossil energy

Exports (Thousand tones oil


Percentage of net

embodied fossil

energy exports (%)

1 Electricity

9867 26.9

production and


2 Coke ovens, refined 7580 20.7

petroleum and

nuclear fuel

3 Gas distribution 1541 4.2

4 Structural clay 1244 3.4

products, cement,

lime and plaster

5 Iron and steel, nonferrous

1234 3.4


metal castings

6 Paper and

1047 2.9



7 Motor vehicles 1043 2.8

8 Hotels, catering, 867 2.4

pubs etc

9 Health and

767 2.1

veterinary services


10 Construction 740 2.0

1 Water transport 472 14.9

2 Auxiliary 379 12.0



3 Banking and 358 11.3


4 Other business 253 8.0


5 General purpose 179 5.6


6 Medical and 170 5.4



7 Pharmaceuticals 169 5.3

8 Mechanical 139 4.4



9 Wearing 102 3.2

apparel and fur


10 Research and


96 3.0

intensity change. In 2007, the rapid decline of fossil energy

consumption intensity made the embodied fossil energy imports

decline a lot. During the global economy crisis in 2009, the reason

for embodied fossil energy imports decline changed to the rapid

decline of trade imports.

Fig. 11 shows the gap between UK’s fossil energy consumption

and production. In the 21 st century, the obvious gap between the

UK’s fossil energy consumption and production starts in 2004,

if net embodied fossil energy imports are considered, this gap

appears earlier, starting in 2002. It can also be easily found from

Fig. 11 that the gap between fossil energy consumption and

production in UK is much larger if net embodied fossil energy

imports are considered.

3.2. Distributions of UK’s embodied fossil energy imports and


The results from Table 2 are total fossil energy exports and

imports embodied in UK’s international trade. In order to analyze


X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428

the UK’s net embodied fossil energy imports further, distributions

including sector and country distributions can be analyzed

(Tables 4–6).

There is a distinct difference between those sectors that are

net importers of embodied fossil; energy, and those that are net

Table 8

Intensity of embodied fossil energy exporting by sectors in UK in 2011.

Rank Sector Intensity of embodied fossil energy

exporting (ton per 1000£)

1 Electricity production and 1.9639


2 Gas distribution 1.9238

3 Structural clay products, 1.5614

cement, lime and plaster

4 Sugar 0.5600

5 Fishing 0.4452

6 Coke ovens, refined petroleum 0.4255

and nuclear fuel

7 Pulp, paper and paperboard 0.3517

8 Industrial gases and dyes 0.3183

9 Other land transport 0.2503

10 Metal ores extraction, other

mining and quarrying


Table 9

Intensity of embodied fossil energy importing by sectors in UK in 2011.

Rank Sector Intensity of embodied fossil energy

importing (ton per 1000£)

1 Structural clay products, 6.1867

cement, lime and plaster

2 Electricity production and 5.5810


3 Gas distribution 4.4177

4 Sugar 2.0887

5 Pulp, paper and paperboard 1.0607

6 Industrial gases and dyes 0.9774

7 Fishing 0.9721

8 Coke ovens, refined petroleum 0.8703

and nuclear fuel

9 Articles of concrete, stone etc 0.7263

10 Metal ores extraction, other

mining and quarrying


exporters reflecting the economic structure of the UK. Tables 4–6

show the top 10 sectors in UK to import net embodied coal, ‘oil

and gas’, and total embodied fossil energy respectively and it can

be seen that most of the net importers of embodied fossil energy

belong to the heavier industries. Table 7, in contrast, shows the

top 10 sectors in UK to export net embodied fossil energy. From

this it can be seen that the top net exporters of embodied fossil

energy belong to light and tertiary industries.

Tables 8 and 9 show intensity of embodied fossil energy

exporting and importing by top 10 sectors in UK in 2011. It can

be easily found that the average intensity of embodied fossil

energy importing is higher than that of embodied fossil energy

exporting obviously.

Country distribution of UK’s embodied fossil energy exports,

imports and net imports are shown in Figs. 12–14, respectively as


Fig. 14 shows that China accounts for 43% of UK’s total net

embodied fossil energy imports becoming the UK’s biggest net

importer since 2008 (Fig. 9). As a ‘‘world factory’’, China’s foreign

trade is trapped in a series of ‘comparative advantages’. China’s

trade surplus is at the cost of exporting low-tech, low value-


2665 , 4%


3925 , 6%


2160 , 3%


4524 , 7%


5106 , 8%

United States

5397 , 8%


1819 , 3%


1617 , 2%

Unit: thousand tonnes


14960 , 23%

Other Country

23963 , 36%

Fig. 13. Country distribution of UK’s embodied fossil energy imports in 2011.

Unit: thousand tonnes

Other Country

13358 , 40%

United States

4434 , 13%

Unit: thousand tonnes


3761 , 11%


1343 , 4%

Other country

7073 , 22%


13962 , 43%


999 , 3%


1076 , 3%


1126 , 3%


1748 , 5%


2625 , 8%


2581 , 8%

Irish Republic

1960 , 6%


1544 , 5%


917 , 3%


3381 , 10%


1943 , 6%


1345 , 4%

United States

964 , 3%

Fig. 12. Country distribution of UK’s embodied fossil energy exports in 2011.

Fig. 14. Country distribution of UK’s net embodied fossil energy imports in 2011.

X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428 427

Table 10

Intensity of embodied fossil energy exporting by countries in 2011.

Rank Country Intensity of embodied fossil energy

exporting (ton per 1000£)

1 Russia 0.5403

2 China 0.4961

3 India 0.3680

4 Poland 0.2586

5 United States 0.1782

6 Canada 0.1738

7 Turkey 0.1738

8 Netherlands 0.1611

9 Hong Kong 0.1479

10 Belgium 0.1426

11 UK 0.1138

12 Spain 0.1052

13 Germany 0.1042

14 Italy 0.0985

15 Japan 0.0970

16 Irish Republic 0.0881

17 Denmark 0.0712

18 France 0.0700

19 Sweden 0.0512

20 Norway 0.0465

added products. At the same time, China also exports a lot of

embodied resources, including fossil energy, reducing the economic

development costs of other countries.

The UK also exports net fossil energy embodied in trade to

other countries and regions. Those countries mainly belong to the

EU, countries such as France, the Irish Republic, Switzerland and

Sweden. The net embodied fossil energy from UK to those

countries are 1007, 819, 339 and 317 thousand tonnes of oil

equivalent respectively.

Table 10 shows intensity of embodied fossil energy exporting

by countries in 2011. Russia, China and India rank top three in

UK’s trade partners.

4. Conclusion and discussions

4.1. Conclusion

Brown et al. (2010) and Warr and Ayres (2010) showed that

economic growth and the quantity/quality of energy consumption

are linked. Consequently, the UK economy cannot grow without

continued support from the required energy inputs. The model

established in this paper aims to analyze the interdependence of

different types of energy imports, those indirect energy imports

embodied in globally traded goods. The basic conclusions obtained

from the analysis are as follows.

There is an inverse relationship between the UK’s balance of

trade, and the UK’s net embodied fossil energy imports, so as the

balance of trade worsens, the UK imports increasing amounts of

embodied fossil energy through international trade. The UK’s

embodied fossil energy imports have exceed embodied fossil

energy exports every year since at least 1997, leaving the UK a

net embodied fossil energy importer.

Energy security as a nationally bounded imperative is questionable

at the very least in the light of these findings. If net

embodied fossil energy imports are considered, the gap between

fossil energy consumption and production in the UK is larger than

commonly believed, and so the problem of energy security is

greater than generally accepted. The size of the problem is not the

main consideration though, as much as the scope of the potential

problem; that is to say, the increase in the gap between consumed

and produced (one traditional measure of energy security),

although significant is not substantial. The interesting point is

that direct energy imports are not the only point of vulnerability,

but indirect energy imports through the energy embodied in

traded goods is shown here to be another variable that should be

considered in the complex equation of energy security.

If we examine those UK domestic industries most impacted by

embodied energy imports, the picture of increased energy vulnerability

becomes starker. The top three sectors all relate to what

could be broadly termed the energy sector. Not only is this sector

vulnerable from the standpoint of the necessary direct energy

inputs required, but there appears to be an additional vulnerability

based upon the energy embodied in the goods imported for

the functioning of this sector. The next 4 sectors in this list all

relate to the production of key material goods for the UK

economy. Although there is a service sector bias in the economy,

there is still an important element of manufacturing, and embodied

energy vulnerabilities may prove as much a concern as direct

energy imports to this area of the UK economy. From the

perspective of net embodied fossil energy imports, the UK needs

to reconsider its energy utilization, efficiency and consumption in

the light of global trade, and hence the UK should reconsider its

approach to energy security policy.

To extend this analysis further, beyond the purely national

perspective to the global distribution of net embodied fossil

energy imports, the UK is most dependent on the ‘Made in China’

phenomena. ‘Made in China’ accounts for 43% of the total net

fossil energy imports. As ‘factory to the world’, China has become

the biggest net embodied energy importer to the UK since 2008.

Energy security then is both a major focus for the global economy,

but is also of considerable interest at the level of international

political relations.

4.2. Discussions

Over the last decade the consumption of direct fossil energy in

the UK economy has remained stable (not increasing with

economic growth). However, this phenomena cannot be simply

ascribed to success in the arena of energy conservation and the

increasingly efficient use of energy in the UK, but must take into

account the export of energy use in the UK economy to other

economies through the mechanism of global trade, and furthermore,

must take into account which countries play a key role in

the UK’s continued energy security beyond those states that

supply the more obvious direct energy inputs. If China (or any

other trade partner) cannot provide energy security for themselves,

can the UK really have energy security without disconnecting

from the global economy? This displacement of energy

consumption through international trade also raises questions

about the applicability of Kuznets curve, but this requires more in

depth study than detailed here.

The UK has seen an increasing dependency on imported fossil

energy since it became a net energy importer in 2004 and a

constant increase in global energy demand has seen energy

security develop as one of the ‘grand challenges’ facing the UK

drawing scrutiny of the UK government. As the UK’s trade deficit

and recessionary pressures grow, the UK looks to access the

markets of developing countries such as China, India and Brazil

in order to address these issues through the expansion of exports.

Although this may promote the UK’s economic recovery, one

point cannot be ignored: The UK’s net embodied fossil energy

balance of trade will probably increase, but this will not mean

that there is an increase in energy security, in fact increasing

interdependence within the global economic infrastructure will

make energy security less achievable, even less desirable if the

environment for energy security proves, as is likely, to be highly



X. Tang et al. / Energy Policy 57 (2013) 418–428

There are a number of areas for continued investigation to help

develop a more complete picture of the impact of embodied

energy on the UK economy. They include better identification of a

country by country impact of imports on each of the identified

industry sectors. Better estimation of embodied energy on a

country by country basis for imported goods into the UK. A full

lifecycle case study of a specific industry would prove a useful

tool to validate the data from this approach. The model developed

would also prove useful when analyzing the total carbon footprint

of UK consumption patterns, and beyond that the resource

footprint of the UK. These national footprints may prove useful

when developing global responses to resource consumption. This

is not necessarily as a Malthusian response to resource depletion,

but part of an adaptive perspective to changes in resource use


The research results presented here show that the UK is a net

embodied fossil energy importer. The amount of net embodied

fossil energy imported is smaller than direct energy imports, but

still significant, and plays an important role in key UK industries.

Therefore the notion of a bounded energy security - a national

imperative - is, at best, flawed, and national discussions of energy

security must take into account global trade and the interdependence

of the UK with the many nation states that comprise the

world economy.


The authors would like to give many thanks to Science

Foundation of China University of Petroleum, Beijing (project no

BJ-2011-03), Key Projects of Philosophy and Social Sciences

Research of Ministry of Education (09JZD0038) and National

Natural Science Foundation of China (project no is 71073173)

for sponsoring this joint research.


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