In an era where sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity, the construction industry faces a pressing challenge—embodied carbon reporting. With an intricate web of supply chains and diverse materials, how can we accurately measure and reduce the carbon footprint of our building projects? Recently, a panel discussion between Causeway and Kier at the Digital Construction Week event tackled this very issue, shedding light on the steps needed to achieve net-zero emissions in construction.

Why embodied carbon matters

The significance of embodied carbon in the construction industry cannot be overstated. Unlike operational carbon emissions, which result from the use of buildings, embodied carbon is locked in during the manufacturing, transportation, and assembly of building materials. Not only that, it’s important to consider that repair, maintenance and refurbishment of buildings and structures also contribute to embodied carbon emissions. Understanding and mitigating these emissions is crucial for the industry to reach its net-zero targets.

Data gaps and achieving net zero

A major hurdle in this quest is the lack of accurate data. Without reliable data, determining benchmarks is challenging and it is difficult to  track progress or identify areas for improvement. The panel emphasised the need for better and broader data collection and utilisation. Adam O’Rourke, Emerging Technologies Consultant at Causeway, highlighted that while tools like Tradex Carbon aim to bridge this gap, more comprehensive and site-level data is essential to deliver meaningful change.

On-site data collection

Accurate data collection at the construction site level is paramount. Strategies such as automated data logging and real-time monitoring can significantly improve the quality of data gathered. Jenna Taki, Group Carbon Manager, Kier, pointed out that integrating these technologies into procurement processes can drive sustainability from the ground up. Automating data collection processes can reduce the burden on site-based staff, and Tradex Carbon supports these efforts by providing platforms that facilitate seamless data capture and analysis.

Improving supply chain collaboration

Given the complex and international nature of construction supply chains, enhancing collaboration is key. Practical steps include fostering transparent and timely communication between procurement teams, suppliers, and subcontractors. James Geraghty, Sustainability Manager, Kier Transportation, noted that early engagement with all stakeholders can align sustainability objectives, paving the way for more efficient and eco-friendly practices.

Early collaboration for greater impact

The panel stressed the importance of involving carbon, design, and commercial teams early in the project lifecycle. By collaborating from the outset, more significant carbon reductions can be achieved. This proactive approach ensures that sustainability is embedded in the project’s DNA, rather than being an afterthought.

Reporting and data output - a holistic approach

Addressing embodied carbon requires a comprehensive strategy that considers various factors such as region of origin, labour, fuel, logistics, and water emissions. The panelists discussed the importance of adopting a holistic approach to reporting and data output. This not only improves transparency but also helps in making informed decisions that support sustainability goals. The data must be fit for purpose and able to be fully integrated within an organisation, therefore a comprehensive organisation data integration and operational strategy is key to this.

Balancing commercial and carbon objectives

One of the most significant challenges faced by the industry is balancing commercial goals with carbon reduction targets. Often, budget constraints overshadow sustainability efforts. However, the panel suggested that creating incentives for carbon reduction can help reconcile these competing priorities. For instance, prioritising projects that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability can drive industry-wide change.

Incentives for carbon reduction

In the absence of mandatory carbon targets, incentives play a crucial role. These could include financial rewards for meeting sustainability benchmarks or preferential treatment in project bids. By aligning commercial success with carbon reduction, the industry can create a win-win scenario.

From concept to completion

Reducing embodied carbon requires interventions at multiple stages of the construction process. From the initial design to the final execution, each step offers opportunities for carbon savings. The panel highlighted the need for visibility and accountability throughout the project lifecycle. Ensuring that all stakeholders are aware of and committed to the sustainability objectives is essential for achieving net-zero goals. Engaging early with stakeholders to promote the longer term benefits of using low carbon alternatives is an important part of incentivising carbon reduction plans.


Achieving net-zero in the construction industry is a complex but attainable goal. By addressing data gaps, improving supply chain collaboration, and balancing commercial and carbon objectives, we can make significant strides towards sustainability. The recent panel discussion provided valuable insights into the practical steps needed to tackle embodied carbon reporting issues.

Across all sectors of the industry, the message is clear—collaboration and innovation are key. By working together and leveraging advanced technologies, we can build a more sustainable future.

If you're looking to refine your processes and contribute to a net-zero future, consider reaching out to our experts to discover more about Causeway Tradex Carbon. Together, we can pave the way for a greener, more sustainable construction industry.

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