Embodied carbon data released for more than 95% of timber consumed in UK

Timber Development UK (TDUK) – the UK’s trade association for the timber supply chain – has released average carbon data for the 10 major timber product categories – completely free for all to access.

This data will support architects, engineers, and other specifiers to make accurate assessments of the carbon impacts of their material choices as early in the design process as possible – when they have the greatest ability to influence them.

TDUK’s new independently verified Embodied Carbon Data for Timber Products calculates weighted average A1-A4 embodied carbon data for common timber products such as softwood, engineered timber, and panel products, including and excluding sequestered carbon. More than 80 EPDs were reviewed in this comprehensive new paper.

Embodied carbon data

Embodied Carbon Database

A1-A4 data is provided for 10 major timber products which means the EPD Database can be used to calculate the carbon impact of more than 95% of timber consumed in the UK.

The A1-A3 data draws only from EPDs for products available in the UK, with the data weighted based on country of origin.

With the addition of A4 data on transport to the UK, calculated using TDUK’s access to imports information to take into account our diverse supply chain – this is the most accurate data for timber products available for Whole Life Cycle assessments in the UK.

With one of TDUK’s core missions being to help create a low-carbon future, this data – and a paper on the methodology (which has been independently verified by Construction LCA) – is available to download for free from the TDUK website.

Charlie Law, sustainability director, TDUK, said:

“If we are to achieve national and international targets to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need to measure, understand, and significantly reduce the embodied carbon within the buildings and infrastructure we construct.

“Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) are key for specifiers to design low-carbon assets, helping them accurately assess the impact of their designs and material selections, but historically, limited data has been available.

“Only in the past few years has this begun to change. But with a continual push for more EPDs for products in construction, more data is becoming available every day – the results of major efforts made by timber suppliers.

“Our EPD Database capitalises on all of this data by drawing on the available independently verified EPDs for timber products to calculate weighted average A1-A4 embodied carbon data.

“All of the data, and the methodology used to create these averages, is completely independently verified – and freely available for all industry to download and use for their own tools and resources.

“We are proud to have undertaken a particularly rigorous process, and release both the data and methodology for free. This means anyone working within the built environment can benefit from this research, with complete confidence in its independence.

“Robust data is essential for reducing the carbon impact of construction, allowing specifiers to make informed decisions. We will be updating these figures every year as more data becomes available.”

Seb Laan Lomas, associate and passivhaus designer, Architype, said:

“With a rightly increasing scrutiny within the industry of the climate impacts of construction, this data contribution enables design teams to move beyond ‘rules-of-thumb’ and ‘gut feelings’ to having a data-driven dialogue.”

Kelly Harrison, director, Whitby Wood, said:

“Having already compared these figures to some of our previous embodied carbon counts we can see a marked improvement. It’s invaluable to have actual datapoints and verified, weighted average EPD information at early design stages to ensure that we make the right decisions.”

Michael Polack, technical manager, B&K Hybrid Structures

“Consistent and up to date embodied carbon data is key to making accurate design decisions, particularly as the embodied carbon of timber continues to further improve. At B&K Hybrid Solutions, we fully support the development of TDUK’s EPD database and weighted averages for timber products, which are particularly valuable for supporting design teams at early design stages.”

Embodied carbon data

Embodied Carbon Database

The paper which accompanies the EPD Database figures has more information on the methodology used, data confidence levels, and includes a PDF dataset with links to EPDs, product densities, and a verification report by Jane Anderson at Construction LCA, confirming compliance with CEN/TR 15941:2010 standards.

This new, free to use timber EPD database fulfils a key commitment made by TDUK within the UK Government’s recent Timber in Construction Roadmap. We encourage all members of TDUK, or even non-member suppliers able to provide additional data, to get in touch with us if they have any EPD not already included in this paper.

Download the 2024 Embodied Carbon Data for Timber Products now from the Timber Development UK website by logging in or creating a free user account.