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Defining and Aligning:
Whole Life Carbon & Embodied Carbon

With the Government's requirements to achieve Net Zero emissions in the UK by 2050, there remains confusion regarding the implications of this for the built environment. Net zero performance should include the consideration of Embodied Carbon and Whole Life Carbon but in order to do this we need to combat a lack of definition, consistent measurement, mis-aligned benchmarks and performance claims.


Following the release of the Embodied Carbon Primer in 2020, LETI has been consulting with industry groups, including CIBSE, RIBA, IStructE, the GLA and the Whole Life Carbon Network to align definitions, scopes, measurement methodologies and targets. This page contains downloads of additional resources to guide and help resolve these inconsistencies:


 The one-pager summaries introduce the concepts of Embodied Carbon and Whole Life Carbon, as well as the industry standards that govern our measurement of the metrics. In addition, they set out key principles to reducing built environment carbon emissions through strategic project and design initiatives.


→ The Embodied Carbon Target Alignment document sets out an embodied carbon rating system that can be used to track the urgent performance improvements needed from now until 2030 and comes with a set of reporting templates to ensure consistent reporting scopes are used. This alignment document outlines total embodied carbon targets, as well as upfront carbon targets.

→ The Carbon Definitions for the Built Environment, Buildings and Infrastructure provides a common set of definitions that has been developed by the Whole Life Carbon Network (WLCN) in collaboration with LETI.  Results from the 2020 embodied and whole life carbon LETI survey, showed that LETI membership overwhelming felt that Net Zero Carbon performance had to be determined by first minimising emissions to a target level before offsetting the residual emissions. This has been implemented within the net zero definitions in this document.  


This suite of 4 documents should be read together, along with the net zero operational one pager,  to understand operational, embodied and Whole Life Carbon and how to achieve a net zero ‘Paris Proof’ approach which dictates that the Built Environment Industry should only use the limited amount of carbon – including energy and material resources – apportioned to it, in order for the UK economy as a whole to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and ensure best efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Embodied Carbon Reporting Template:

To help understand the embodied carbon in your project, we have created a template that helps place your project against the LETI benchmarks, giving an indicative rating. This is a self-certifying process and requires you to complete all the elements of the template. If you do use the ratings given by this template, we request that you provide the underlying data in the form of this template to those who ask. This will enable the whole industry to improve our benchmarks, as well as provide an informal peer-review process.

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One Pagers

Jane Anderson, LCA Construction

Louisa Bowles, Hawkins\Brown

Alina Congreve, Independent Researcher

Duncan Cox, Thornton Tomasetti

Tim den Dekker, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Volkan Doda, Atelier Ten

Mirko Farnetani, Hilson Moran

Julie Godefroy, CIBSE

Ben Hopkins, Bennetts Associates

Helen Hough, Brydon Wood

Jess Hrivnak, RIBA

Raheela Kahn-Fitzgerald, Hawkins\Brown

Susan Mantle, Heyne Tillet Steel

Ellie Marsh, University of Cambridge/ Foster + Partners

Michelle Sanchez, PDP London

Kat Scott, dRMM

Leighton Smith

Simon Sturgis, Targeting Zero

Joe Taylor

Elaine Toogood, Concrete Centre

Johanna Jarvinen, One Click LCA


Jane Anderson, LCA Construction

Clara Bagenal George, Elementa Consulting

Louisa Bowles, Hawkins\Brown

Karl Desai, UKGBC

Michal Drewniok, University of Bath

Mark Edwards, Arcadis

Jannik Giesekam, University of Leeds

Louise Hamot, Integral Group

Mina Hasman, Skidmore Owings & Merrill

Ben Hopkins, Bennetts Associates 

Maria Smith, Buro Happold

Simon Sturgis, Targeting Zero

Simon Wyatt, Cundall

Embodied Carbon Target Alignment

Louisa Bowles, Hawkins\Brown

Qian Li, Cundall

Joe Jack Williams, Feilden Clegg Bradley

Ben Hopkins, Bennetts Associates

Will Arnold, IStructE

Pat Herman, BRE

Publications launch webinar

Defining and Aligning: Embodied carbon targets and net zero definitions webinar

Speakers & Panellists:

Louisa Bowles, Hawkins\Brown

Qian Li, Cundall

Joe Jack Williams, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios

Alex Tait, RIBA

Simon Sturgis, Targeting Zero

Karl Desai, UK GBC

Ben Hopkins, Bennetts Associates

Will Arnold, IStructE

Clara Bagenal George, Elementa Consulting


LETI is collaborative by nature and is very interested in your input. Please submit your queries and/or comments regarding the Whole Life Carbon and Embodied Carbon one-pagers, Embodied Carbon Targets Alignment and Carbon Definitions for the Built Environment by filling in our short survey below. This will help us to collate a list of common FAQs to add to our website.

→  Submit queries and/or comments here

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