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Understanding Embodied Carbon values for building products in cove.tool.
Understanding Embodied Carbon values for building products in cove.tool.

An overview of the methods and assumptions for embodied carbon values for the products

Patrick Chopson avatar
Written by Patrick Chopson
Updated over a week ago

Embodied carbon values to automate the analysis of design decisions are built into the platform automatically for many materials.

This article presents an overview of...

  • Where the automated Embodied Carbon values are from

  • What is included for each product category

Read the related articles on Embodied Carbon and cove.tool, and Structures and Interior Finishes for Embodied Carbon Optimization to understand better the importance and terminology of building products associated with embodied carbon.

Where are the Embodied Carbon values from?

Building assemblies are layers of products each has an embodied carbon quantity. Collectively, these products contribute to the climate crisis in a big way. To understand a more accurate value of its impact, each product needs to be considered. We provide manufacturer products with both cost and performance data to help automate the optimization of building design and product specification. This article covers the methodology for collecting embodied carbon per product and what is included for each category.

All embodied carbon values are sourced in the following prioritized method:

  • directly from the EC3 database

  • a manufactures certified product EPD

  • a certified industry EPD

  • the median value for the product type from known values

The Embodied Carbon values are often from various sources and are not always provided in the same unit measurement in the industry. The source kgCO2 value may be based on volume (yd3 or m3) or area (ft2 or m2) depending on the product. Our database converted these values for the specific product to represent each material Embodied Carbon value as surface area (ft2 or m2) for building products and interior finishes, and volume (ft3 or m3) for structure. This method provides a common basis of measurement that coincides with the surface geometry of your geometry and simplifies the analysis results for users.

What is included for each product category?

Baseline Product inputs are derived from national spec standards with embodied carbon values as median values of each product type. Additional product options include certain assumptions to make it easier for users to understand how to apply them in the optimization process. Below are the assumptions included in each category for Embodied Carbon. Typical ranges of values for building elements and material type are included in our article How to approach embodied carbon reduction on your project.

Building Products (kgCO2/ft2)

  1. Wall Insulation - insulation material type and its thickness

  2. Glazing Assembly - Glass and Frame (aluminum mullions), converted from kgCO2/lbs to kgCO2/ft2.

  3. Blinds/ Curtain Shades - not collected yet.

  4. Roof Insulation - insulation material type and its thickness

  5. Skylights Assembly - Glass and Frame (aluminum mullions), converted from kgCO2/lbs to kgCO2/ft2.

Interior Finishes (kgCO2/ft2)

  1. Flooring - only the top covering finish material (carpet, tile, wood, self-leveling concrete, etc.) source is kgCO2/ft2.

  2. Ceiling - acoustic ceiling tile, direct from EC3 as kgCO2/ft2

  3. Drywall - 1/2", 5/8", or 1" gypsum board sheathing for wall assemblies, unpainted, 4'x8' sheet size, converted from kgCO2/1000ft2 to kgCO2/ft2

  4. Paints - not collected yet.

  5. Fixtures + Finishes - not collected yet.

Structures (kgCO2/yd3)

  1. Floor Decking - plywood as kgCO2/yd3, steel decking converted from kgCO2/lb to kgCO2/yd3

  2. Floor Structure - wood truss as kgCO2/yd3, steel truss as kgCO2/lb to kgCO2/yd3

  3. Roof Structure - steel or wood for roof truss, purlins, lightweight concrete, kgCO2/yd3

  4. Support Structure - steel or concrete for columns and beams, kgCO2/yd3

  5. Foundation - concrete, kgCO2/yd3

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