Carbon in the spotlight

Whole Life Carbon (WLC) in buildings
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Customers are demanding more and more low-carbon products and regulation is becoming more stringent with a focus on Whole Life Carbon (WLC) in buildings.


WLC includes both the carbon emitted from the energy used to heat and cool a building (operational carbon) and the carbon generated throughout the life cycle of building materials from the cradle to the grave (embodied carbon).

Buildings are changing 

In old existing buildings operational carbon accounts for around 80% and now it is only 55% or less in new buildings. However, in France where regulation is strict and low carbon electricity is more widely used for operational energy, 85% of the whole life carbon of a building is embodied. This is changing the lens completely towards a focus on embodied carbon.

Regulation is changing 

In France from 2022, it is now mandatory to provide information about embodied carbon for all new buildings and there are new building carbon regulations in the pipeline in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Finland. Meanwhile, the European Commission is proposing that the carbon footprint of buildings is calculated and disclosed through the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive for all new buildings from 2030.

Customers are changing 

These regulatory developments plus a focus on the European Union’s 2050 carbon neutrality target means a major shift for architects and specifiers who will be choosing products that offer a lower embodied carbon footprint at the stage when they start designing their buildings.

Knauf Insulation is driving this change

As manufacturers we are working to reduce the carbon footprint of our products at every stage — from the raw materials used and the way they are manufactured to the way they are transported and packaged and their ultimate reuse or end of life. The company is committed to reducing the embodied carbon of its products by 15% by 2025 against its 2019 baseline.

Harmonised standards are essential

Knauf Insulation supports the harmonisation of standards when it comes to measuring embodied carbon in products and that is why we use Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). In line with European Union standard EN 15804, our EPDs are independently audited and based on a Life Cycle Assessment methodology that forensically examines the impact of every stage of our products’ life cycle.

Not all countries are following the same standards

Some countries are choosing a different calculation methodology. This is reflecting different interpretations of the science and/or the promotion of specific solutions. Knauf Insulation continues to engage in the debate around legislative changes to carbon metrics to secure a level playing field for all manufacturers and to make it easier for specifiers to understand the embodied carbon in the products they choose. 


Photo in the header: Panel Plus TP138, Ultracoustic Plus, and Homeseal LDS 0.02 UV were installed in a residential building in Madrid, Spain, to offer the most advance performance in terms of recycled content and low COV emissions. The low carbon building project was led by the architect office CSO Arquitectura.

Annual Review 2022

Enjoy our Annual Review 2022