The building fabric
This chapter focuses on mainstream United Kingdom building techniques and materials. Taking steps to reduce a building’s operational carbon footprint usually requires an increase in its embodied carbon footprint, owing to the increased amount of insulation and other material required. Embodied carbon of a material usually encompasses the carbon from energy used to extract, process and manufacture material until the point that it leaves the factory gate. The total carbon footprint of any building is the sum of its operational carbon footprint and the carbon footprint embodied in the materials and their construction. The Research Establishment (BRE) Green Guide to Specification uses life-cycle assessment to evaluate construction build-ups from the least environmentally impacting to the worst. There is a danger that solely relying on the BRE Green Guide for material selection leads to good credits in its related assessment schemes, but at the expense of truly sustainable construction.