Whole-life embodied carbon in multistorey buildings: steel, concrete and timber structures

embodied carbon
embodied carbon

Whole-life embodied carbon in multistorey buildings: steel, concrete and timber structures

Date Published

20 October 2023

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embodied carbon

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Summary

Timber structural frames have lower embodied carbon than their equivalents in steel or concrete. That is one of several findings in this research summary.

Comparisons are made between the whole-life embodied carbon (WLEC) emissions of buildings using identical configurations in steel, reinforced concrete, and engineered timber frames.

These are assessed and compared for 127 different frame configurations, from 2 storeys up to 19.

An engineered timber structure is a sound design choice for achieving low WLEC. Indeed, timber’s advantages may even be understated in these results.
Key Information

The research makes a strong case that engineered timber offers a low-carbon option when compared to steel and concrete structural frames (other things being equal).

This advantage provided by timber should be optimised by the industry to construct lower carbon buildings.

On average, the whole-life embodied carbon of the frames built with timber systems was significantly lower than the alternatives.

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