India Climate Startups Insights

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Low carbon building materials - their importance to decarbonization

Notes by Narsi

Of late, the term Embodied Carbon has been in the limelight in the sustainable buildings and construction sector, and for all the right reasons.

Embodied carbon refers to the carbon footprint of the materials that are being used to make or build anything - especially buildings and infrastructure.

Cement and concrete are some of the world's largest emitters of CO2, and thus, every time you put some cement somewhere, you are including in it a whole lot of CO2 that it had left in its wake.

By some estimates, the amount of embodied carbon in our building materials is so high that it far exceeds the amount of CO2 released by the building for many years to come.

Which implies that, buildings are starting off with a huge liability if they are not designed sustainably and built with low carbon materials in the first place.

That brings the limelight on low carbon materials - and unsurprisingly, there is a significant market demand for these, more so in markets such as the EU.

Equally unsurprisingly, we see a lot of startups getting funded in this domain.

While that is the good news, one of the key challenges many of these startups will start facing is about metrics and benchmarks. While LEED (and GRIHA) have been around for a while and have fairly well accepted benchmarks for evaluation, the benchmarks for assessing the carbon quotient of many building materials is still evolving. 

Part of the reason is that the low carbon construction material sector has been a fairly small and somewhat unorganized sector so far. The other part of the reason could be the diversity of materials and the plethora of possible material combinations

All these making reliable & authentic benchmarks a fairly challenging process indeed - but it is a challenge that is worth solving.

See all Insights from: Decarbonizing Industries


  • Civil & structural engineering
  • Design
  • Energy efficiency
  • Material sciences