Essex Embodied Carbon Policy Study

The Essex Embodied Carbon Policy Study provides the technical evidence to support the development of a consistent planning policy approach towards reducing embodied carbon emissions from new development in Essex.

Embodied Carbon accounts for a significant proportion of a buildings’ whole life carbon; it includes emissions related to raw material supply, manufacturing and transport, construction process and demolition and disposal.

Reducing the embodied carbon of a building does not necessarily mean higher capital costs. Contrary to this, adopting strategies such us lean and circular economy design can reduce capital costs.
Reducing embodied carbon emissions is important for meeting local and national climate targets, including the Essex Climate Action Commission target for all new development to be carbon positive by 2030.
Currently Building Regulations does not address embodied carbon and to fill this gap, forward thinking local authorities are tackling embodied carbon emissions from the built environment through the planning system.

The Embodied Carbon Policy Study:
• examines the need for developing embodied carbon planning policies in local plans;
• defines the different scopes of embodied carbon;
• examines industry guidance, and how embodied carbon can be addressed through planning and design of development;
• reviews current planning policies in adopted and emerging local plans;
• provides policy recommendations that complement the Essex net zero carbon in operation policy and evidence base;
• provides the technical modelling and cost analysis that sits behind the policy recommendations;
• includes implementation advice and guidance.

The policy recommendations set out in the Study cover 4 main areas:
1. Presumption against demolition and promoting circular economy
2. Lean building design and good material efficiency for lower embodied carbon
3. Reducing upfront embodied carbon, including setting a target for major residential development proposals
4. Reporting whole life carbon

The Essex Authorities are collaboratively working on a consistent planning policy position which takes forward the recommendations of the Study and will update the interim ‘place-holder policy’ included in the Planning Policy Position for Net Zero Carbon Homes and Buildings in Greater Essex (November 2023) available here.

The Essex Embodied Carbon Policy Study is published as ‘open source’ and the Essex authorities hope that it will form a valuable evidence resource for local authorities beyond Essex and for industry, stakeholders and national policy makers.

The Embodied Carbon Policy Study report is available below:
Essex Embodied Carbon Policy Study’- technical evidence base (Levitt Bernstein, Etude, Introba, Hawkins/Brown, Currie & Brown, June 2024).

Page updated: 3/07/2024

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