The Next Big Carbon Challenge

Thakeham calls on the industry to step up to the next big carbon challenge.  

Leading south of England housebuilder and community creator, Thakeham, is calling on housebuilders, suppliers, industry groups and the government to collaborate and drive change to address the challenge of embodied carbon in the homebuilding industry.  

A certified carbon neutral business, Thakeham has recognised the commendable progress being made in reducing operational carbon emissions but states that ‘building truly net zero homes requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses CO2 emissions associated with material production, including bricks, concrete and timber.’ 

In its first White Paper, called ‘The Next Big Carbon Challenge’, Thakeham has conducted key research and analysis to highlight the facts about embodied carbon in the homebuilding industry. The result is a published document with a series of insights and practical, achievable recommendations for the building industry and its supply chains. With the ambition of instigating meaningful, long-lasting change, the paper highlights the following insights: 

  • With bricks, concrete and timber playing a significant role in the production of a new home, 50% of embodied carbon is attributed to external walls and substructure. 
  • There is potential to reduce embodied carbon by up to 20%, when compared to traditional methods, through the adoption of timber-based alternatives. This shift towards sustainable materials presents a cost-effective opportunity to substantially decrease emissions across the industry.  
  • Environmental product declarations (EPDS) cover just 20% of carbon emissions. Thakeham discovered that 50% of our non-specific EPD’s were covered by just two materials, brick and concrete. This demonstrates the need for more comprehensive and standardised EPDs that includes the entire lifecycle of construction materials, ensuring transparency and accountability in the mission to reduce embodied carbon on site.  

Thakeham realised that the only way to tackle these new-found insights was to address the critical challenges head-on, presenting 8 new approaches to achieve a net-zero future. 

  1. Move towards more timber-based alternatives for superstructures.  
  2. Tackle the embodied carbon contribution of concrete within foundations.
  3. Update RICS guidance, which is currently calculated on the basis that all carbon sequestration is lost. 
  4. Set a date for mandatory EPDs for all UK manufactured products.  
  5. Create a UK-specific EPD for timber frame. 
  6. Mandate EPD production for construction materials.  
  7. Develop embodied carbon targets for low-rise single-family dwellings.  
  8. Improve benchmark accuracy by directing housebuilders who have completed low-rise housing assessments to share their results with the Built Environment Carbon Database (BECD). 

In the hope of influencing other key industry figures and businesses to follow in their footsteps, Thakeham offers a downloadable White Paper that highlights its strategy to shift the dial on embodied carbon.  

You can download ‘Reducing ‘embodied carbon’. Our next big challenge here:


Thakeham Sustainability Director, Josie Cadwallader-Hughes, said:  

‘’Establishing the reality of embodied carbon allows us to identify key areas where we can truly reduce emissions and present transparent, achievable solutions. At Thakeham, we are passionate about making real change. We hope this White Paper helps everyone from contractors to policymakers understand how this reporting can be used to drive us forward and transform our industry.” 

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