Looking at reducing the embodied carbon of your next home design? Here are some things to consider.

As structural and civil engineers we have the knowledge and skillset to advise and guide homeowners wishing to make environmentally-conscious choices in their home design.

Our team have a lot of experience in domestic projects and that means we are in a great position to push and encourage sustainable choices on this kind of project. 

With our long-time collaborators at nimtim architects, we discussed and exchanged ideas on how to further reduce embodied carbon. Here is a breakdown from our session and a list of things to consider in your next project. 

Circular economy

Reuse and repurpose existing materials in other parts of the building. Are there salvageable bits of materials that can be used elsewhere? Find them a home and cut down on waste.

Sometimes, timber is the answer

Specify glulam beams over steel beams, where appropriate. We know timber won’t always be the answer to the climate crisis, but on projects of this scale it does tend to reduce embodied carbon significantly when compared to steel.

You can also specify timber in the construction of cavity walls instead of blockwork. 

Lastly, consider using suspended timber ground floors in place of concrete slabs.

Shop local

When using timber, consider using locally sourced C16 timber as opposed to imported C24 timber wherever possible. This as well as using locally sourced materials in general will cut down on the carbon emissions produced by transports.

Think outside the box

Create smaller openings in existing walls to avoid box frames. Although this might not be part of the initial design, the reduction of embodied carbon is significant and so it’s worthy to present the option to the client and discuss its suitability.

Consider the trees

Where possible, locate extensions away from trees to avoid deep foundations. This way you’ll avoid deep excavations and the use of additional/unnecessary concrete. If trees are unavoidable, use mini screw piles instead of deep concrete foundations. 

Carbon count with the client 

Involve your client in the decision making process and use carbon counting tools to clearly and easily highlight the environmental impact.

Are you refurbishing your home and looking at sustainable design options? Get in touch with us at mail@sd-engineers.com.