Support Us

Material Collection

Low Embodied Carbon Materials

31% of global carbon emissions come from making things – which means that manufacturing materials and products contribute significantly to the changing climate. Until recently, most attention on carbon emissions within the building industry focused on energy consumption from operating buildings once they are inhabited. But carbon emitted from the production, transportation, installation, maintenance, repair, and disposal of a building product is also significant.

This list considers emissions before a product is transported to the construction site. We look specifically at greenhouse gas emissions from extracting raw materials, transportation to the factory, and manufacturing a product (A1-A3 of a product's lifecycle).

Currently, there is no universal threshold for 'low embodied carbon' in materials. After discussing this research with experts, we set a rigorous standard that can meet 2030 goals. These products, labeled with 'LEC', embody below 2 kgs of CO₂eq per square meter.

*Products in this collection meet criteria for both material health and low embodied carbon.

Low Embodied Carbon Materials

14 products
How to Use This List

About Our Collections

The goal of our collections is to help promote transparency in the material ingredients of building products by fostering knowledge and awareness of products and materials for which life-cycle information is available, and that have environmentally, economically, and socially preferable life-cycle impacts.

Keep an eye out for the following symbols:
A Healthier Affordable Building Product

Products with the designation of "Healthier & Affordable" were specified and installed in at least one of our Case Studies of healthier affordable housing.

Available at the Donghia healthier Materials Library

The Donghia healthier Materials Library library is open to Parsons student and faculty. Learn more about access and opening hours here.

Low Embodied Carbon

“Embodied Carbon” is the total amount of carbon emitted during the process of making a material. *HML refers to a manufacturer's EPD to determine whether a product's A1-A3 carbon emissions falls within HML's threshold for Low Embodied Carbon.

New Product

This product has been added to the collection within the past six months.

Ingredient Disclosures

There are several ways of evaluating a material’s health that we include with product information. Disclosures are reports by manufacturers about product ingredients, impacts, or other attributes.

Key Disclosures include:
Health Product Declaration (HPD)

A voluntary technical specification for reporting information on product contents and associated health information, intended to be the health-analogue to Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

Declare Label

Declare is a transparency platform and product database that answers three questions: 
  1. Where does a product come from?
  2. What is it made of?
  3. Where does it go at the end of its life?

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD)

A standardized format for communicating the environmental effects associated with a product’s raw materials extraction, energy use, chemical makeup, waste generation, and emissions to air, soil, and water.

Safety Data Sheet (SDS)

A reporting format that provides basic information about a material’s chemical ingredients, the potential safety hazards to installers, and recommended practices for installation.

Other
Learn More
Category Sub-category Manufacturer Product Ingredient Disclosures

EcoBatt

Low-Embodied Carbon Material

EcoBatt Insulation is free of formaldehyde, acrylics, and artificial colors. This insulation combines sand, post-consumer recycled bottle glass, and Knauf’s ECOSE Technology. It can be used for walls, ceilings, sound control, floors, attics, and mid-floor applications. This product is Declare Red List Free. It has also achieved a Greenguard Gold Certification, which ensures that it meets strict standards for VOC emissions.

Per EPD, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon - thanks in large part to its use of recycled materials. Knauf currently has 27 production across the US, Europe, and the Middle East. When specifying this product be sure to consider the distance it will travel to your site.

Ecobatt's R-value range is declared between 8-49.


Category
Fibrous, Cellulosic, & Granular Insulation, Fiberglass
Manufacturer
Knauf Insulation
Product Website

Material composition *

Glass Fibers from recycled glass bottles 48%, Sand 13%, Borax 7%, Soda Ash 4%, Quicklime 3%, Manganese Dioxide <1%, Sugars 4%, Ammonia <1%, Ammonium Sulfate <1%, Silane <1%, Kraft/Asphalt Facing 19%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses for wood and metal framing

COLORS

Taupe

Jet Stream Ultra

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Available At the Donghia Materials Library
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Knauf Insulation Jet Stream ULTRA is an unbonded, fibrous glass blowing insulation that is designed to be used in attics or with the BIBS system (Blown-in-Blanket System). This product is Declare Red List Free, and meets the strict VOC emission standards for the Greenguard Gold Certification. Additionally, it is made with over 60% post-consumer recycled glass (cullet) content.

Per Knauf's product-specific EPD, Jet Stream Ultra meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon. Knauf currently has 27 production across the US, Europe, and the Middle East. When specifying this product be sure to consider the distance it will travel to your site.

Jet Stream's R-value range is declared between 11-60.


Category
Fibrous, Cellulosic, & Granular Insulation, Fiberglass
Manufacturer
Knauf Insulation
Product Website

Material composition *

Post Consumer Cullet 59.3%, Sand 17.3%, Borax 9.2%, Soda Ash 5.1%, Quicklime 3.7%, in-house cullet 2.5%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

32 lb Package

COLORS

White

Safe

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Available At the Donghia Materials Library
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Safe is batt insulation made from mineral wool that provides acoustic dampening and is non-combustible. Safe N Sound is similar to Rockwool's Safe product but is primarily for interior applications. It is Greenguard Gold Certified, meaning it meets strict requirements for VOC and formaldehyde emissions.

This product meets HML's low embodied carbon standards per Rockwool's EPD for its stone wool insulation. Production facilities are located in the US and Canada. For shorter transportation, the North American Market is therefore preferable. Rockwool's Ontario location uses a substantial amount of recycled material.

*NOTE: This product contains phenol-formaldehyde. According to the manufacturer: "Phenol formaldehyde is allowed in rigid mineral wool insulation for exterior applications (such as rain screen assemblies or foundation insulation). While rigid mineral wool insulation does contain some formaldehyde, most of the formaldehyde is eliminated in the production process through a chemical reaction and high heat. Rigid mineral wool insulation installed on the exterior of the building possess less risk to humans and ecosystem than rigid foam insulation products, which almost always contain HFRs and use blowing agents with high global warming potential."

Roxul's R-value range is declared at 4.2/inch.


Category
Fibrous, Cellulosic, & Granular Insulation, Mineral Fiber
Manufacturer
Roxul
Product Website

Material composition *

Stone Wool Biosoluble 95-100%, Syrups Hydrolyzed Starch 1-2%, Phenolic Formaldehyde Binder 0-1%, Urea Binder 0-1%

*As reported by manufacturer and product SDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses for wood and metal framing

COLORS

Taupe

Thermofibre

Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Gutex Thermofibre is a blow in insulation made of two components only: regionally sourced pinewood fiber and ammonium salts which act as a flame retardant. As a result, the product Thermofibre is made from natural, biodegradable materials. It is suitable for stud, rafter and ceiling insulation. It holds a European Natureplus certification that sets strict standards for material health and complies with REACH standards.

According to Gutex's EPD which covers their wood fibre insulation, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon. Gutex is based in Germany making this a better option for projects based in central Europe.

Thermofibre's R-value range is declared between 0.5-6.3.


Category
Fibrous, Cellulosic, & Granular Insulation, Wood
Manufacturer
GUTEX
Product Website

Material composition *

95% Pinewood fiber, 5% ammonium salts

*As reported by manufacturer and product documentation

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Natureplus icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Last Updated

October 09, 2020

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Marmoleum Imagine

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Marmoleum Imagine is made from natural materials and uses an Aquajet cutting technique to create the unique designs. The product has a low carbon footprint, and is free from toxic materials such as phthalates. The designs can be customized on request which allows for endless design possibilities.

Per Forbo's product-specific EPDs, these Marmoleum flooring system meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Resilient, Linoleum
Manufacturer
Forbo Flooring Systems
Product Website

Material composition *

Linseed Oil 19%, Gum Rosin 2%, Tall Oil 9%, Wood Flour 24%, Calcium Carbonate 23%, Reused Marmoleum 11%, Jute 8%, Titanium Dioxide 2%, Various other pigments 1%, Lacquer 1%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

2.5mm x 32m rolls, 2mm x 32m rolls

COLORS

Available in a variety of colors and designs

Natural Wooden Flooring

Available At the Donghia Materials Library
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

mafi is an Austrian company that specializes in the production of three-layer wooden planks that can be used as flooring, walls, or ceilings. mafi floors are finished using natural oils. Instead of creating a seal-like more typical lacquers, the oil soaks into the wood and protects it from the inside out. Because it does not create a barrier, the oil finish on mafi’s wood floors allows the material to breathe and to help regulate the interior climate and improve indoor air quality. The natural oil finish is also free of toxic solvents. All of the wood used in mafi's flooring is grown in Austria, within 12km ( 8 miles ) of the factory.

Per Mafi's product-specific EPDs, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Wood Flooring, Engineered Wood
Manufacturer
mafi
Product Website

Material composition *

Wood 99.9%, Polyvinyl Acetate Adhesive 0.05%, Natural Oils 0.05%

*As reported by manufacturer and product Declare label

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in a range of plank sizes

COLORS

Oak, beech, ash, maple, walnut, acacia, spruce, larch, swiss stone pine, douglas fir, fir

Graphenstone

Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Graphenstone has updated traditional lime paint formulas with their product by adding graphene, a material made from carbon. Graphene lends the paint extreme strength, durability, and washability. Additionally, the use of lime creates a paint that is not only free of harmful substances, but one that also actively improves indoor air quality by absorbing toxics and CO2. The white interior and exterior paint have a Cradle to Cradle Gold certification.

This product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon in part because of its use of renewable energy and CO₂ absorbing ingredients. As the product is produced in Spain, shipping can negate it's low emission score.

*NOTE: Recently, researchers have raised health concerns about graphene. According to the manufacturer, Graphenstone uses Nano Fibers of Graphene (NFG), which has a larger structure that is not harmful to human health.


Category
Mineral Paint, Lime
Manufacturer
Graphenstone
Product Website

Material composition *

Calcium Hydroxide (Lime) 40-70%, Water 10-30%, Calcium Carbonate 5-20%, Additives 1-5%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

Available in 1L, 4L, 12.5L, and 15L

COLORS

Available in a wide range of colors. White is the only color with a C2C Gold Certification.

CERTIFICATIONS & DISCLOSURES
Health Product Declaration (HPD)
Declare Label
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
Other
Cradle to Cradle | Gold icon-pdf Created with Sketch.
Last Updated

September 06, 2019

Download data sheet icon-pdf Created with Sketch.

Clayworks Clay Plasters

Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Clayworks clay plasters are blends of unfired clays mixed with natural minerals and pigments. They provide a 100% natural alternative for gypsum plaster and paint wall finishing. Clayworks clay plasters are non-toxic, avoid synthetic additives and emit zero VOCs or formaldehyde. They are free of heavy metals and can be composted.

The clay plasters help regulate indoor relative humidity and temperature, absorb toxics and odors, and are easily repaired. They are made in the UK and supplied in a dried form, ready to mix with water and apply with conventional plastering tools and skills. The BM-1 hazard on the HPD relates to respiratory protection. The clay plasters also contribute to WELL and LEED certifications.

Per Claywork's product-specific EPDs, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Coating, Plaster
Manufacturer
Clayworks
Product Website

Material composition *

Blended Sands, Kaolin, Other Proprietary Ingredients

*as reported by the manufacturer

Multi Layer Flooring

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Kährs's 3-layer flooring product is made up of a surface layer, a core layer, and a backing. All of their surface treatments are naturally free from solvents, formaldehyde and isocyanate, and the floors carry a FloorScore emissions certification. The Multi Layer Flooring can be installed floating on a level surface as opposed to being glued down. This allows you to avoid potentially unhealthy adhesives in addition to allowing for future disassembly and reuse.

*NOTE: This product is ULEF as opposed to NAF, meaning it contains ultra-low emitting formaldehyde.

Per Kahrs's EPD, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Wood Flooring, Engineered Wood
Manufacturer
Kährs
Product Website

Material composition *

Wood/Wood Fiber 93-94% [Amino Based Glue 2.6-3%, Carbamide Adhesive 1.0-2%, Lacquer Sherwin-Williams 0.8-1%, Filler 0.1%, Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA) 0.08-0.1%], Polyolefin Foam Plastic 0.4-0.5%, Polyester Foam - Bottom 0.5-0.5%

*As reported by manufacturer and product HPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

72’’x 6 1/4” Plank; 3/8", 5/8", or 3/4" Thickness

COLORS

Available in a variety of wood species

Marmoleum Modular

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Available At the Donghia Materials Library
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Marmoleum Modular tiles are made from natural materials. The product has a low carbon footprint, and is free from toxic materials such as phthalates. The modular tiles allow you to mix and match to design a unique floor surface.

Per Forbo's product-specific EPDs, these Marmoleum flooring system meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon. It contains 100% Biobased Content according to Bioprefered.gov.



Category
Resilient, Linoleum
Manufacturer
Forbo Flooring Systems
Product Website

Material composition *

Linseed Oil 20%, Gum Rosin 2%, Tall Oil 6%, Wood Flour 31%, Calcium Carbonate 8%, Reused Marmoleum 23 %, Titanium Dioxide 3%, Various other pigments 1%, Polyester 5%, Lacquer 1%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

9.8”x 9.8”, 9.8”x 19.69” and 19.69”x 19.69” Tiles

COLORS

Available in a variety of colors

Marmoleum Signature

A Healthier Affordable Building Product
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Marmoleum Signature tiles are made from natural materials. The product has a low carbon footprint, and is free from toxic materials such as phthalates. The modular tiles allow you to mix and match patterns to design a unique floor surface. They can also be custom designed as long as they fit in one of the modular tile sizes.

Per Forbo's product-specific EPDs, these Marmoleum flooring system meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Resilient, Linoleum
Manufacturer
Forbo Flooring Systems
Product Website

Material composition *

Linseed Oil 20%, Gum Rosin 2%, Tall Oil 6%, Wood Flour 31%, Calcium Carbonate 8%, Reused Marmoleum 23 %, Titanium Dioxide 3%, Various other pigments 1%, Polyester 5%, Lacquer 1%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

9.8”x 19.69” and 19.69”x 19.69” Tiles

COLORS

Available in a variety of colors and designs

Impressa

Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Impressa has a natural base made from renewable raw materials very similar to linoleum. A state-of-the-art printing technique allows prints directly on the substrate for a range of authentic wood looks. The product composition is free from PVC, phthalates, and styrene. Note: Aluminum Trihydrate is used as a fire retardant to exceed requirements for flame spread and smoke development by international fire testing standards. (see footnote)

Per Forbo's product-specific EPDs, this flooring system meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Resilient, Linoleum
Manufacturer
Forbo Flooring Systems
Product Website

Material composition *

Linseed Oil 18%, Gum Rosin 2%, Tall Oil 9%, Aluminum Trihydrate 21.5%, Wood Flour 18%, Reused Marmoleum 16%, Calcium Carbonate 6%, Lacquer/Sealer 4.45%, Polyester 3.8%, Print Ink 0.95%

*As reported by manufacturer and product EPD

AVAILABLE SIZING

39.4 in x 9.8 in x 0.1 in panels

COLORS

Available in a variety of colors and designs

COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE

Durabella Terrazzo

Available At the Donghia Materials Library
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Durabella Terrazzo flooring is composed of marble aggregates and/or natural stones with a vegetable oil-based binder. This healthier alternative to epoxy flooring is Red List Free and passes VOC emissions standards for the level of Indoor Air Comfort. The production of this product currently requires the use of isocyanates. While the manufacturer avoids the more harmful toluene diisocyanate (TDI), any isocyanate can be hazardous when the product is wet. Therefore, installers should use proper protection. Durabella is customizable and can be applied to interior and exterior surfaces.

Per Duracryl's EPD, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon.


Category
Pourables and Aggregates, Stone
Manufacturer
Duracryl International
Product Website

Material composition *

Binder 50-80% (2-Oxepanone, Polymer with 2-ETHYL-2-(HydroxyMethyl)-1,3-
Propanediol 50%; Vegetable Oil 50%); Calcium Carbonate Filler 2.5-11.7%; Pigment 0.4-0.8% (C.I. Yellow 42 25%; Diiron Trioxide 25%; Iron Oxide 25%; Titanium Oxide 25%); Polyurethane 0.3%

*As reported by manufacturer and product MSDS

AVAILABLE SIZING

custom poured

Thermacork Standard Insulation

Available At the Donghia Materials Library
Low-Embodied Carbon Material

Thermacork is a 100% natural, renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable rigid-insulation material produced from natural cork. Under the effect of pressure and superheated steam, cork granules expand and are agglomerated, originating blocks, avoiding any type of added adhesives. Cork forests benefit the environment, acting as habitats for a diverse range of species and providing a carbon sink that captures CO2 and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Per Thermacork's cradle-to-gate EPD for its expanded insulation corkboard, this product meets HML's criteria for low embodied carbon. Like most cork producers, Amorim Isolamentos, S.A. is based in Portugal.

Thermacork's R-value is declared at 4/inch.


Category
Board Insulation, Cork
Manufacturer
Amorim Isolamentos
Product Website

Material composition *

100% cork (suberin, lignin and cellulose).

*As reported by manufacturer

AVAILABLE SIZING

8"x 39” Panel - Available in a variety of thicknesses

COLORS

Burnt Cork

Spec Guidance

Prefer carbon sequestering materials whenever possible. Examples include timber, hempcrete, plant fibers, wool, clay, and lime.

Prefer locally produced products. Carbon emissions from transporting products increase the overall footprint and may lead to a product becoming a large source of carbon emissions.

Consider reuse and retrofit rather than new construction whenever possible.

Reconsider structure and foundation. Steel and concrete are currently the largest sources of CO₂eq in the built environment. Timber structures sequester rather than emit carbon.

Consider installation details that do not require adhesives (which have high embodied carbon).

Encourage manufacturers to analyze the environmental impact of their products and provide EPDs.

Look for products with EPDs that indicate *low or no Global Warming Potential (GWP) per functional unit.

Consider conducting a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of your project before beginning.

Consider the ratio of renewable to nonrenewable energy being used in the manufacturing of a product.

Updated January 28, 2022

Related Videos

Carbon + Chemicals

Wondering about embodied carbon in design and construction?

Pelle Much-Peterson, creator of The Construction Material Pyramid, and Martha Lewis, Head of Materials at Henning Larsen present this new provocative tool and discuss the impacts of embodied carbon and chemicals found in building materials.

Carbon Panel from Material Health: Design Frontiers

Interested to learn about innovations from designers determined to lower carbon emissions?

Learn from Andrea Lipps, Charlotte McCurdy, and Julia Lohmann as they present beautiful projects made with low carbon emissions in mind.

↑  Glossary