Energy and Carbon
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Through the Climate Change Act, the UK Government has committed the UK to an ambitious 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 based on 1990 levels. As such, the UK is now the first country in the world to adopt a long-term legal framework for reducing emissions through a system of "five-year" carbon budgets, providing a clear pathway towards this 2050 target.
With about 45% of carbon emissions coming from general day to day use of the built environment, primarily through water and space heating, the responsibility for the construction industry to respond to these challenges is self-evident. This is a big challenge, and one that needs tackling now. The Government has set an ambitious plan for all new homes to be zero-carbon from 2016 and new commercial buildings by 2019.
Building regulations and energy performance certificates are vital tools in reducing emissions across the business and public sectors.
Carbon emissions from day to day use are however only part of the story, we must also consider the embodied carbon – that is the amount of carbon released from material extraction, transport, manufacturing, and related activities.
The main difference between embodied carbon and carbon foot printing is that the term carbon footprint can also be used to discuss operational carbon requirements, for example heating and lighting a building, or operation of a power tool. Embodied carbon is used in the context of materials and includes all activities related to the construction of a building, including the extraction, production and transportation of materials.
Adapting to climate change means we will need to adapt the buildings we live, work in and build as climate change will affect levels of rainfall, heat, wind and frequency of storms.
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