Reference Values for Embodied Carbon of Swedish Building Construction


  • Tove Malmqvist Royal institute of technology (KTH), Sweden
  • Sara Borgström WSP, Sweden
  • Johanna Brismark Plant an Idea AB, Sweden
  • Martin Erlandsson IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sweden


embodied carbon, buildings, reference values, new-build, life cycle assessment


For contemporary, new buildings in contexts like Sweden, life cycle assessments clearly display that embodied carbon often represent more than half of the emissions seen over the life cycle. While policies for many years have targeted operational emissions, limited focus has been on buildings´ embodied carbon. To abate sectoral greenhouse gas emissions, policies for mandatory climate declarations or even limit values for embodied carbon are being introduced. In the Swedish case, a regulation on mandatory climate declarations is in effect from 2022, and limit values are likely to be introduced in the coming years. The need for consistent knowledge on the embodied carbon of contemporary building construction as well as the potential of various mitigation strategies, is therefore critical to step up emissions reductions in the sector. This study aimed at developing robust reference values for embodied carbon, representative for the contemporary new construction in Sweden. Based on assessments of nearly 70 new Swedish building cases, reference values were developed for central building types. The results display a high variation within each building type, thus showcasing considerable emission reduction potentials with available technologies. The study embraces many analyses, among others on the potential effects of various properties of the sampled buildings, such as noise requirements, energy standards and analyses of improvement potentials through greener product supply. The study provides a profound basis for the further development of limit values in for example procurement processes and in regulation for the Swedish context. In an academic perspective the study is unique through the representative building sample, consistent assessment methodology applied for all cases as well as displaying insights into details of the variations of embodied carbon in contemporary construction.


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