Embodied carbon

This week further rounds of protests by environmentalist group Extinction Rebellion have gained momentum, with protesters estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Their campaign strategy is predicated on a principle established by a Harvard scientist, which hypothesises that non-violent protests by more than 3.5% of a population is all that is required to gain policy support from (or topple) a government. There is a gulf between current numbers and the 2.3m needed in the UK to achieve that, but support is building, and as sentiment grows, the policy focus is likely to turn quickly to the real estate sector – a significant contributor to energy use. In the meantime, self-regulation, charitable support and unilateral industry action is also anticipated to increase. Two examples of that this week give a flavour for the range of opportunities. Firstly, with the help of 30 strategic backers, Skanska has soft launched an ‘Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator’. The open-source tool allows developers and contractors to quantify a project’s carbon footprint, which in beta testing has reportedly allowed projects to achieve a 30% cost-neutral embodied carbon reduction. Meanwhile, the Mayor of London, in conjunction with the Woodland Trust, is giving away 55,000 trees to Londoners as part of the target of increasing London’s tree canopy by 10% by 2050. If you want to do your bit, apply for one here.