How to calculate embodied carbon

Author: O P Gibbons, J J Orr

Date published

21 August 2020

PDF: Free 
Print: Standard: £45.00 | Member: £29.25 | Student Member: £22.50
Back to Previous

How to calculate embodied carbon


O P Gibbons, J J Orr

Date published

21 August 2020


O P Gibbons, J J Orr


PDF: Free 
Print: Standard: £45.00 | Member: £29.25 | Student Member: £22.50

A set of embodied carbon calculation principles for the structural engineering community to follow

Calculating embodied carbon in the same rigorous way across all designs will allow meaningful comparisons to be made between structural schemes, developing our understanding of embodied carbon as well as how the industry can most effectively reach net zero carbon.

This guidance is equally applicable to infrastructure and building projects. The calculation of embodied carbon must become a key part of every design process. Such efforts support the immediate need to reduce resource demand and increase reuse and recycling to enable a circular economy. 

This guidance will:
  • Help you select and specify materials that are efficient while ensuring they're safe and durable
  • Establish an agreed set of principals for the measuring of embodied carbon
  • Reduce the amount of carbon you use in your projects
  • Quantify the benefits of low carbon design to the client and society
  • Inform you about alternative ways you can move towards net zero carbon design
This guide has been translated into an open-source Excel estimator, The Structural Carbon Tool. The tool is free to download and can be used to quickly identify ways in which to minimise embodied carbon on your designs.

The guide supports legislation by UK Parliament to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and forms a part of the response of The Institution of Structural Engineers to implement the necessary changes in the profession to respond to the climate emergency. IStructE has built a portfolio of guidance documents, FAQs and articles related to embodied carbon. The guide also supports the sustainability related core tasks in The Structural Plan of Work 2020.


Climate Emergency Conference 2020

Additional information

Book (A4 print or PDF)
IStructE Ltd


Materials Guidance Climate change Codes & Standards Best practice Guides Carbon

Related Resources & Events

Blue abstract blocks

The Structural Plan of Work 2020

New framework on structural engineering roles and deliverables. Helping to clearly define the roles of structural engineers on building projects, while delivering efficiencies and clarity for clients.

Date ‐ 2 July 2020
Author ‐ Various
<h4>IStructE Benevolent Fund partners with Anxiety UK</h4>

IStructE Benevolent Fund partners with Anxiety UK

IStructE Benevolent Fund offers members mental health support through partnership with Anxiety UK.

Date ‐ 1 July 2020
Case Study
The CITIC tower


A presentation on Beijing's tallest building, looking at how the award winning project came together.

Date ‐ 29 June 2020
Author ‐ Peng Liu MIStructE
Price ‐ Free