Carbon profiling

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Carbon profiling[1] is a mathematical process that calculates how much carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere per m2 of space in a building over one year.

The analysis has two parts, which are then added together to produce an overall figure which is termed the ‘Carbon Profile’:

Embodied carbon emissions[edit]

Embodied carbon emissions relate to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from creating and maintaining the materials that form a building,[3] e.g. the carbon dioxide released from the baking of bricks or smelting of iron. These emissions can also be considered to be Upfront Carbon Emissions, or UCE.[3] “Embodied carbon refers to the carbon footprint associated with building materials, from cradle to grave," and can be quantified as a part of environmental impact using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).[4]

In the Carbon Profiling Model these emissions are measured as Embodied Carbon Efficiency (ECE), measured as kg of CO2/m2/year.

As of 2018, "Embodied carbon is responsible 11% of global GHG emissions and 28% of global building sector emissions ... Embodied carbon will be responsible for almost half of total new construction emissions between now and 2050."[5] Zero-carbon architecture (similar to zero-energy building), incorporates design techniques that maximize embodied carbon.[6]

Occupational carbon emissions[edit]

Occupational carbon emissions relate to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from the direct use of energy to run the building e.g. the heating or electricity used by the building over the year. In the Carbon Profiling Model these emissions are measured in BER’s (Building Emission Rate) in kg of CO

The BER is a United Kingdom government accepted unit of measurement that comes from an approved calculation process called sBEM (Simplified Building Emission Model)

The purpose of Carbon Profiling[1] is to provide a method of analyzing and comparing both operational and embodied carbon emissions at the same time. With this information it is then possible to allocate a project's resources in such a way to minimize the total amount of Carbon Dioxide emitted into the atmosphere through the use of a given piece of space.

A secondary benefit is that having quantified the Carbon Profiling[1] of different buildings it is then possible to make comparisons and rank buildings in term of their performance. This allows investors and occupiers to identify which building are good and bad carbon investments.

Simon Sturgis and Gareth Roberts of Sturgis Associates in the United Kingdom originally developed ‘Carbon Profiling’ in December 2007.


  1. ^ a b c ‘Carbon Profiling’ was published in The Architects Journal on the 26.03.09
  2. ^ a b Hurst, Will; Jessel, Ella; Waite, Richard. "Why architects need to wake up to the carbon emergency". Architects Journal. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  3. ^ a b Alter, Lloyd (April 1, 2019). "Let's rename "Embodied Carbon" to "Upfront Carbon Emissions"". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  4. ^ Pak, Anthony (2019-07-04). "Embodied Carbon: The Blindspot of the Buildings Industry". Canadian Architect. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  5. ^ "New Buildings: Embodied Carbon". Architecture 2030. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  6. ^ Leddy, Bill. "Zero Carbon Architecture: the Business Case". arcCA Digest. Retrieved 2019-08-10.

Further reading[edit]