In the relentless pursuit of a sustainable future, the urgency to reduce embodied carbon emissions has taken centre stage, with experts highlighting its pivotal role in achieving Net Zero emissions. This issue becomes even more critical considering embodied carbon of the built environment contributes a staggering 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

Responding to the imperative environmental crisis, RSE unveiled a comprehensive Net Zero strategy in 2021, charting a path toward Operational Net Zero by 2030 and Full Net Zero by 2035. This ambitious roadmap to reducing carbon acknowledges that our environmental impact extends beyond operational emissions, encompassing the often-overlooked embodied emissions from our products.

To gain a precise understanding of these embodied emissions, RSE conducted a meticulous Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on one of our chemical dosing products. The LCA revealed that the traditional material used in manufacturing the chemical dosing kiosk accounted for a substantial portion of the product’s embodied carbon, ranging from 65% to 92%.

This revelation prompted RSE to embark on an intensive quest for alternative materials that could maximise carbon reduction. Our analysis delved into the latest research and development, fostered collaborations with esteemed institutions such as Built Environment – Smarter Transformation (BE-ST), and identified the requisite technical support.

The focal point of our efforts became the development of the Timber Modular Build (TMB), featuring a hybrid cross-laminated timber and glue-laminated timber structure. The TMB will benefit from the substitution of glass reinforced plastic having a staggering embodied carbon of 8.1 kgCO2e/kg, compared to the engineered timber alternative which has a mere embodied carbon of only 0.45 kgCO2e/kg.

RSE’s intensified focus on delivering TMBs led to a crucial partnership with Ecosystems Technologies, renowned for its commitment to pushing the boundaries that unlock the potential for homegrown timber, engineering, and fabrication capabilities. This partnership underscores a shared commitment to combining engineering solutions with fabrication, with an emphasis on modular and offsite build methods. Together, the aim is to develop a robust, innovative, and sustainable product that forms a critical part of national infrastructure.

The TMB’s innovation presented challenges, particularly in areas such as fire risk and longevity. Addressing these concerns head-on, RSE and Ecosystems Technologies have demonstrated that well-engineered mass timber can surpass even steel framed and Green Roof Organisation (GRO) structures in terms of fire resistance.

Guided by Structural Timber Association (STA) guidance and developed in collaboration with BE-ST, Edinburgh Napier University, the University of Edinburgh, and BRE, the fire safety of the TMB has been rigorously validated. Certificate ID 20220127-001418 Rev A (ilac-MRA UKAS testing ref: 21542) certifies its Fire Resistance Performance at an impressive 78 minutes ‘performance integrity’ to BS 476-20. The TMB panels also meet and exceed the 30 and 60-minute tests for fire integrity, surpassing expectations and building regulations for fire resistance.

In addressing concerns about longevity, RSE emphasises that timber can offer assured life expectancy when appropriately designed and fabricated. The TMB confidently meets and exceeds the 25-year design life of traditional plastic kiosks, underlining its exceptional quality and performance.

RSE’s commitment to reducing embodied carbon through the innovative TMB serves as a shining example of how industry leaders are taking bold steps toward a more sustainable and environmentally conscious future. As we continue to push the boundaries of technology and material science through developing innovative modular build solutions, our journey toward Net Zero emissions gains momentum as we reach for a more sustainable future.

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Olivia Kerr - Marketing Co-ordinator

Olivia Kerr

Marketing Co-ordinator

First Published

29th November 2023

Estimated Reading Time

3 minutes