Technical Guidance

Embodied Carbon

The construction industry is increasingly becoming more energy conscious.  It isn’t just the operational carbon emissions that are being calculated and regulated, once the building has been constructed. There is now more emphasise on the building’s life cycle, calculating it’s embodied carbon.

In the building life cycle embodied carbon are the emissions caused by extraction, manufacture, transportation, assembly, maintenance, replacement, deconstruction, disposal and end of life aspects of the materials and/or systems that make up a building.

Whenever figures are quoted for embodied carbon they are cradle-to-grave, or cradle-to-cradle wherever possible, so that you get the full picture.

All of our embodied data has been independently verified by Dcarbon8 and RPS Group.


Cradle-to-grave is the full Life Cycle Assessment from resource extraction ‘cradle’ – through processing, manufacturing and use to final disposal phase – ‘grave’. This includes all packaging, transport and maintenance.

The quoted figures also make an allowance for transporting the rooflights to site, their maintenance in line with recommendations and the disposal of the rooflights after the building is demolished. Transport emissions can make a big difference to the embodied carbon especially when goods are moved across the globe.

Zenon Insulator cellulose acetate honeycomb core is extracted from tree fibres and is processed into a film which we make into honeycomb. At end of life it can be composted. This results in a very low embodied carbon figure of 0.28kg of embodied carbon per square metre of our 20mm thick insulation compared to the comparable thermal performance of 10mm thick, four-wall polycarbonate with 18 times the amount at 5.1kg.

Zenon Evolution factory assembled rooflights have significantly less cradle-to-grave embodied carbon of a traditional rooflight with the same performance over the lifetime of a standard building.

For further detailed information on embodied carbon, looking into cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-cradle and manufacturing controls, you can download the section from our technical manual here.