Embodied carbon refers to the carbon dioxide equivalent or GHG emissions associated with the non-operational phase of a building and has become an increasingly important area for the built environment sector to address. It includes emissions caused by extraction, manufacturing, transportation, assembly, maintenance, replacement, deconstruction, disposal and end-of-life aspects of the materials and systems that make up a building.

The manufacturing of construction materials such as steel, cement and glass contribute to 10% of the building and construction industry’s global energy related CO2 emissions.1 A universal whole life carbon assessment will be key to accelerate the achievement of net-zero emissions across the entire built environment lifecycle. As part of our renewed SBTi-validated GHG reduction targets, CDL has committed to reduce the embodied carbon of our building materials by 41%, instead of their conventional equivalents, by 2030. Furthermore, we anticipate carbon-intensive construction materials, such as steel and cement, to become increasingly costly.

We also monitor and report the embodied carbon performance of our projects against our adopted targets. This enhances CDL’s supply chain management and encourages the use of low-carbon alternatives.

An interim 2021 target of a 7% reduction in embodied carbon of building materials compared to their conventional equivalents was set for all new projects awarded since 2018. Several projects are expected to obtain TOP by 2022. We track the performance of these projects against the current interim target,2 and raise the next interim target where necessary to map our phased progress towards the 2030 SBTi-validated target of 41% reduction.

The Tapestry project obtained TOP in 2021 and achieved 24.8% reduction in embodied carbon with use of sustainable materials. The next project to be assessed will obtain TOP in 2022.

Managing Impact of Top Building Materials

Globally, cement manufacturing and steel production are responsible for around 7%3 and 7% to 9%4 of global carbon emissions, respectively. Hence, it is vital to reduce the use of these materials. At CDL, we apply a circular economy approach to materials used for our development projects. To close the waste loop, we use recycled construction materials, such as recycled steel and concrete, wherever applicable. On top of this, we encourage the use of alternative low-carbon materials at our sites. We are also constantly on the lookout for innovative building materials and methods to facilitate the transition to net-zero.

Materials Initiatives Benefits
Concrete (Including granite, cement and fine aggregate)
  • Use SGBC or SEC-certified materials such as low-carbon and recycled concrete
  • Use recycled concrete aggregates and washed copper slag from approved sources to replace coarse and fine aggregates for concrete production
  • Use PPVC where possible
  • Promote environmental conservation
  • Reduce consumption of raw materials
  • Use recycled steel in projects for reinforcement works where possible
  • Reduce consumption of raw materials

Embodied Carbon Footprint for Projects Operating in 2021 (tCO2e/m2)

Embodied carbon intensity for 2021 pertains to six project sites that were under development, hence figures reported were based on the project design stage. The Tapestry achieved TOP in 2021, and the figure has been amended from 0.66 to 0.70 to reflect the actual embodied carbon intensity.


1 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction: Towards a Zero-emission, Efficient and Resilient Buildings and Construction Sector. United Nations Environment Programme, 19 October 2021.
2 Based on the lifecycle of CDL’s project developments, embodied carbon data for building materials is only available upon TOP attainment.
3 Global Cement and Concrete Industry Announces Roadmap to Achieve Groundbreaking ‘Net Zero’ CO2 Emissions by 2050. Global Cement and Concrete Association, 12 October 2021.
4 Net Zero Steel: Sector Transition Strategy. Mission Possible Partnership, 19 October 2021.