26 November 2020

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios launch FCBS CARBON

TRADA image

Earlier this month, TRADA member Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios launched the early design stage lifecycle carbon review tool FCBS CARBON. FCBS CARBON has been designed to estimate the whole life carbon of a building to inform design decisions prior to detailed design, and makes potential carbon impacts clear to the client, architect and the whole design team from the outset of the design process. This free tool is now available to download in beta format.


Using benchmarked data from the ICE Database and EPDs, the tool is designed to give the design team insight into the whole life carbon impact of a building from the very outset of a project. At its heart is an algorithm that estimates the embodied carbon based on simple geometry and a curated list of materials/build-ups. The interactive excel sheet calculates the estimated impact of building elements from a series of non-technical user inputs. This removes the need for detailed CAD models or schedules of materials, increasing the speed of iterative design changes and ease of decision making.


Unlike other available calculation tools, this does not require a detailed CAD model or schedules of materials – a series of assumptions are built into the calculations to allow insights to inform early design stage decision making.


Dr Joe Jack Williams, Associate and Researcher at FCBStudios, led the development of FCBS CARBON with graduate engineer Joe Taylor. He said: 'Understanding the impact arising from our design choices is an essential step for architects and designers if we are to meet the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge commitments and reach net zero carbon emissions. We have developed FCBS CARBON using standardised and benchmarked data to empower the industry to navigate complex design variables without the burden of creating a full bill of materials each time.'


The tool makes an estimate of the operational emissions and embodied emissions of key building elements – materials, finishes sub and super structure - from cradle to grave over a 60-year lifespan and also considers the emissions offsets within a project attributable to: carbon sequestration; reuse of building elements at end of life; and on-site renewable energy generation.


It consists of three interactive input sheets and two output sheets. Within each of the input sections, data from different sources can be input to generate the overall carbon footprint of the building. These are compared to RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets and future industry benchmarks to understand relative performance.


The tool produces a summary output page covering operational, embodied and whole life carbon impacts, and the scale of residual offsetting required.


Results should not be viewed as an exact value for the carbon associated with any project, but rather as a platform from which to investigate the relative impact of early stage design choices, and as a starting point for more detailed analyses as a project moves through the design stages.


FCBStudios is committed to sharing knowledge and working across disciplines to help the industry achieve 2030 climate goals.


Ian Taylor, FCBStudios Partner and Research Lead, says: 'In our support of the Architects Declare manifesto, we agreed to share knowledge and research on an open-source basis. Understanding the embodied carbon of materials allows us to make informed choices about how we use them. Following on from our awareness-raising Carbon Counts exhibition, we have created FCBS CARBON to give the industry a tool that allows us to arm ourselves with comparative information when designing buildings. With a limited timescale in which to dramatically curb such emissions, embodied carbon is becoming increasingly important, as a large part of these emissions are incurred immediately. Appreciation of embodied carbon also helps us to understand the value of the materials we already have.'


The beta version of FCBS CARBON, including full guidance notes, is available to download from the FCBS website. They will be collating feedback for future versions of the tool from those who download this version.


Interested in learning more?

Attend FCBStudios' hour-long workshop tomorrow (27 November 2020, 8:00–9:00) to learn how to get the most out of their new free tool to help built environment professionals achieve carbon-neutral buildings.


Find out more or register for the webinar


FCBS CARBON has been developed in house by Joe Jack Williams and Joe Taylor. We would also like to thank our collaborators and advisors:

For discussion on structural assumptions

  • Marta Galinanes Garcia and Edoardo Tibuzzi at AKT II
  • Steve Webb and Alex Lynes, at Webb Yates
  • Julia Ratcliffe at Scale Consulting

For discussion on the benchmarking of whole life carbon methodologies

  • Simon Sturgis at Targeting Zero


About FCBStudios

Feilden Clegg was founded in 1978 with a specific ambition to produce environmentally and socially responsive design. This ethos has flourished and developed, and FCBStudios continues to be at the forefront of low energy design and masterplanning. Through their knowledge of the performance of the buildings they have designed, they provide solutions to support the imperative transition to a zero-carbon economy. This experience, and their skills, underpin their design approach to support clients who are demanding responses in the face of potentially catastrophic climate change and biodiversity loss.


About Carbon Counts

Carbon Counts is an exhibition about the environmental impact of materials. First installed in their London studio in December 2019 as a response to the Architects Declare manifesto and now, as an online exhibition, it continues to provoke conversation and further engage people in the material choices they are making.


About the RIBA Climate Challenge 2030

RIBA has developed the 2030 Climate Challenge to help architects meet net zero (or better) whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030. It sets a series of targets for practices to adopt to reduce operational energy, embodied carbon and potable water. If all RIBA Chartered Practices meet the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets, they will play their part in addressing this global crisis.


Dr Joe Jack Williams took part in the definition of the RIBA Climate Challenge 2030 and FCBStudios was one of the founding signatories.


Embodied carbon

Whole life carbon accounts for all emissions arising over the entire life of a built asset. This encompasses all stages of the asset lifecycle: from material extraction and component manufacture; through building construction, maintenance and operation; to end of life deconstruction or demolition and the potential secondary lifecycles of components beyond, including the future reusability and recyclability of constituent elements.


Whole life carbon is considered in terms of operational and embodied carbon. Operational carbon represents the emissions relating to the energy use of building-integrated systems, and it is well understood and designed for. Embodied carbon is intuitively understood from a material efficiency perspective, but also includes the impact of various other key lifecycle stages.


This is set out in the RICS Professional Statement on Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment: '… embodied emissions arise from producing, procuring and installing the materials and components that make up a structure. These also include the lifetime emissions from maintenance, repair, replacement and ultimately demolition and disposal.'


For whole life carbon estimates to be most useful, it is important that they are produced to a widely adopted standard. It is only possible to benchmark good practice and measure progress if studies are conducted with similar scope and methodology. FCBS CARBON is aligned with the RICS Professional Statement referenced above and structured around the EN 15978 modular system for whole life carbon assessment.


The beta version of FCBS CARBON, including full guidance notes, is available to download from the FCBS website