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FCBStudios’ response to the Architects Declare Manifesto advocates an accelerated shift to low embodied carbon. In order to achieve this, we have committed to interrogate the material choices in all our work. By understanding the embodied and emitted carbon in the construction and life cycle of our designs we will be able to make better informed choices to improve the impact of our work on the environment.

Carbon Counts draws together key metrics for some of the most common materials used in architecture today. The exhibition seeks to start a conversation. It is a springboard to encourage wider debate and discussion, so that as an industry we can work together to continue to research, test, analyse and develop. We must arm ourselves with this knowledge, because we have to act.


In 2017 the UK emitted 384,706,789 tCO2e

That is nearly 400 million kgCO2

In 2017 the whole world emitted 36,153,000,000 tCO2e

That is over 36 billion kgCO2

Material Matters

  • 1/3 Operational carbon from energy used
  • 1/3 Embodied carbon in life cycle maintenance
  • 1/3 Embodied carbon on completion

In a 60 year cycle, a building’s carbon impact is made up of three parts. Proportions vary but the construction impacts of material choices do not. We only have a few years to act to work towards net zero carbon targets.

There will be difficult decisions to make; balancing longevity vs. embodied carbon / style vs. substance / perceptions vs. experience / tried and tested vs. new technologies.

In doing so, we can continue to create spaces which are engaging, sensitive to their external environments and which touch the planet lightly.

The embodied carbon from materials is carbon emitted now and it is this which is influencing climate change.

Material kgCO2e
Aluminium 26,650
Bamboo -230
Brick 320
CLT -600
Concrete 550
Copper 24,230
Glass 3,590
Limestone 250
PVC 4,790
Steel 12,170
Each material section below lists the processes involved in the creation of components for buildings - so-called Cradle-to-Gate analysis. Each process contributes to the carbon emissions of the final products. Every time you remove a process, you are helping to reduce the carbon emitted. But it’s not just about choosing a product that emits less carbon, it’s how we use them.

The materials we use

  1. Extracted from the earth
  2. Processed to base material
  3. Mixed with other elements
  4. Transformed to a raw material
  5. Shaped for use
  6. Delivered to manufacturer
  7. Fabricated to a product

How we use them

  1. Transported to site
  2. Installed in site
  3. Maintained to extend life
  4. Refurbished to keep them useful
  5. Replaced at end of life
  6. Demolished when no longer wanted
  7. Transported to waste processing
  8. Processed to safe waste
  9. Disposed into ground or given a new life



Carbon impact per m3 material:
25,650 kgCO2e

Global production (2018):
Primary Aluminium: 64 Mt

Associated emissions:
1 % of direct global CO2 emissions

UK production:
42000 t

Forecasted consumption:
Quadruples by 2050

Bauxite is dug from the ground and purified into alumina, which is delivered to a processing plant where the alumina is dissolved in a bath of molten cryolite and aluminium is extracted via energy-intensive electrolysis. Carbon dioxide is released as a direct product of this reaction. Aluminium scrap can be included in the melt to recycle it. The resulting aluminium is cast into ingots, extruded or rolled, and delivered to manufacturers for fabrication into components.

The average global recycling rate is 63%: in the UK it is around 40%. Overseas emissions from UK aluminium demand are 3x higher than those from domestic aluminium production. The carbon intensity of aluminium is very dependent on the carbonisation of the electricity grid in its country of origin.

Environmental Impacts

Anti-corrosion metals like aluminium have a high embodied carbon per kilogram but corrosion resistance means that carbon-intensive coatings (such as paint) may be avoided throughout the life of the product. Metals have a long lifetime, are durable and can easily be recovered for recycling.

We can reduce demand by considering alternative or hybrid products. Hybrid products are available – such as aluminium covered timber-framed windows, that provide some of the embodied carbon benefits of timber with some of the durability and low-maintenance characteristics of some metals.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
230 kgCO2e

Global production:
It is estimated 31.3 million hectares of land is used for growing bamboo

Net imports:
The EU is the largest global importer of bamboo products

Forecasted consumption:
The total additional area determined suitable for bamboo is 122 million hectares, made up of degraded forest and grassland in humid climates, 4x the current output area.

For bamboo production, shoots or culms grown from resprouting underground rhizomes are typically harvested after 5 - 7 years. They are transported to processing where they are treated to protect against infestation and mould and seasoned. Depending on their end use: they may be left in their natural, whole culm form; split into sheets; pressed and glued into engineered sections; or even chemically reduced to their constituent fibres for conversion into strong fabrics.

Bamboo has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel. It reaches its full height in one growing season, at which time it can be harvested for pulp or allowed to grow to maturity over 4-6 more years. After being cut, bamboo re-sprouts and grows again.

Environmental Impacts

Transport carbon can have large impacts where bamboo is specified at a distance from where it is grown.

Bamboo could be used for structural members but transport-related emissions may increase embodied carbon.

Advanced curing treatments/surface treatments are required to protect against the primary longevity issues of whole culm bamboo: rot, infestation and UV degradation.

The sequestration rate of bamboo is about 15.4 tons of carbon per hectare per year. This value includes carbon sequestered in long-lived bamboo products from harvested bamboo. The productive lifespan of a bamboo planting is 75-100 years.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
320 kgCO2e

Global production:
1500 billion bricks

Associated emissions:
< 1 % of direct global CO2 emissions

UK production:
1.8 - 2 billion bricks

Net imports:
0.3 billion in 2017

Forecasted consumption:
Doubles by 2060

Bricks are made from clay and sand dug from the ground, crushed, mixed with water and squeezed into shape. They are air-dried and then vitrified in a kiln at around 1000 degrees celsius.

The majority of bricks are from Asia, where production is entirely unautomated and kilns burn dirty coal or biomass. Brick production in this part of the world causes aggressive deforestation and high levels of air pollution.

Environmental Impacts

We can reduce demand by considering alternative load-bearing and cladding materials, and detail to maximise load-bearing capacity and/or visual impact of material used.

Alternatives include recycled bricks or those which use less energy-intensive firing: rammed earth, hemp-based products, geo-polymer stabilised soil or even unfired bricks.

To reduce transport it is possible to source locally, detail to reduce waste, reduce damage in construction and to use all bricks delivered.

Bricks can have a thousand-year design life. Detailing should consider their later reclamation, and to ensure their longevity and easy reclamation lime mortar should be used.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
-600 kgCO2e

Global production:
European production volume estimated to be around 610,000m3 in 2015

Associated emissions:
Carbon sequestering during the life of the tree makes CLT carbon positive

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) can be made from a variety of species of tree. Most are grown for around 40 years in a managed forest before being harvested and transported to a timber mill and cut into boards, which are dried in a kiln and graded for strength. Boards are pressed together with adhesive and then cut to size.

CLT offers high strength and structural simplicity, as well as significantly smaller embodied carbon than concrete or steel. Other benefits include quicker installation, reduced waste, improved thermal performance and design versatility.

Environmental Impacts

Demand may start to outstrip supply, even with huge increases in production in Northern Europe. Currently, the restricted number of manufacturers can result in high transport impacts.

However, demand could be frustrated by regulations, fire and acoustic performance issues and further research is needed to establish sole CLT use in buildings above eight floors.

There is good potential for off-site manufacture and waste reduction. Timber and adhesive specifications alter embodied carbon impact.

Exposing CLT internally can reduce internal finishes costs and maintenance. Contribution to external thermal performance and airtightness can help reduce operational energy use.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
550 kgCO2e

Global production of cement (2018):
4100 Mt
Associated emissions:
6-8% of direct global CO2 emissions

UK production (2017):
9.4 Mt

Net imports (2012):

Forecasted consumption:
Doubles by 2060

Limestone is dug from the quarry and crushed and ground to a fine powder, before being heated to 1450 degrees Celsius to make clinker, which is then cooled and ground to cement. Cement is mixed in various proportions with water and aggregate from a variety of possible sources, depending on the desired concrete properties. It is then poured into shaped containers, with or without reinforcement, and cured.

The UK cement industry produces about 90% of total consumption in the UK. To decrease the construction industry's reliance on concrete, alternative low carbon materials can be used, such as timber, low carbon concrete, stone or other materials useful in compression.

Environmental Impacts

During design, it may be possible to reduce spans, design to suit structural loads on every member, avoid over design, use void formers to reduce weight and use arch and vault forms to reduce reinforcement, but factors of regulation and safety and code compliance issues may be leading to over design.

Where concrete is to be specified, it should be sourced locally, rather than imported, to reduce emissions from transport and waste reduced on-site. Cement replacement materials can be used alongside recycled steel reinforcement and aggregates.

At the end of its life, concrete is difficult to upcycle.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
24,230 kgCO2e

Global production (2018):
21 Mt

Associated emissions:
The proportion of embodied emissions of transport to Europe for virgin copper will be large

Copper ore is dug from the ground with a copper content of between 0.5 - 2.0%. This ore is heavily processed at high temperatures to remove imperfections and by-products such as iron, silver, lead and gold. Eventually, we arrive at blister copper, a 97 - 99% pure form of copper, which is then electrolysed to produce market grade pure copper.

The vast majority of virgin copper is from South America or China. Chile has by far the largest global reserves. Transport of virgin copper makes up for a large proportion of its embodied carbon.

Environmental Impacts

Copper's largest use is in construction, which is dominated by building for residential purposes. Construction of an average modern house requires at least 200kg of copper metal.

Plastic or plastic coated aluminium is suggested as an alternative to copper water pipes and plumbing fixtures. Where copper is required, specifying recycled copper is likely to result in lower embodied transport (for that life cycle).

80% of all the copper that has ever been mined is still in use today, and it can be endlessly recycled without degradation of useful properties. Recycled copper requires 1/6th the energy to produce as virgin material. Over half of the copper used in the EU is recycled and retains a high value (95% of virgin material).

Copper with high recycled content could be an appropriate cladding material on a long-life building, detailed to allow for eventual recycling.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
3590 kgCO2e

Global production:
Flat glass accounts for only 16% of the global glass manufacture.
6% glass fibre, 45% containers and 33% speciality.
Western Europe produces 9% of global flat glass, Asia over 66%

UK production:
The UK glass industry produces around 4 million tonnes of glass per year.

To make glass, sand, limestone and dolomite are dug from the ground and transported to a kiln where they are melted at 1500 degrees Celsius. The molten glass is either floated to produce flat sheet glass or blown to shape, before being cut to its final size.

Architectural glass, glass fibre insulation, optical fibres, blown light fittings all contribute to glass consumption.

Environmental Impacts

We should reconsider the glass-façade office typology and the use of floor to ceiling windows - are we using the properties of glass efficiently (introducing light and views where they are appreciated)? The embodied carbon impacts of smart glass technologies to allow better control of daylight, overheating and heat loss in the future will need to be judged against operational carbon saving.

Some coatings and finishes being added to glass façade products make them difficult to recycle or make them suitable only for downcycling: is their operational benefit offset by their end of life emissions? Are current building standards requiring the use of these products? Is it possible to specify wool or cellulose fibre insulation rather than glass fibre?

Glass should be sourced locally to reduce transport emissions.

The lifetime of glass-based components can be dominated by less durable elements, such as polymer seals on double and triple glazing units. Many glass products are entirely recyclable, including window frames. Is it possible to set up reclamation contracts with suppliers at the construction stage? Incentives and frameworks to properly reclaim and process architectural glass could be used to improve recycling rates. In the EU, proper recycling of building glass waste could avoid 925,000 tons of landfill and save 1.23 million tonnes of raw materials annually. Re-melting waste glass uses 25% less energy than making glass from raw materials.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
250 kgCO2e

Global production:
The total market for natural stone for building is of the order of 1 million tonnes a year (including sandstone, slate etc) which is in sharp contrast to the 220 million tonnes of natural aggregates used each year.

UK production:
Of the limestone produced in the UK, around 80% is used in construction

Net imports:
The UK is a net exporter of limestone

Limestone is cut from the ground and graded, and then cut to shape or ground to varying fineness depending on its end use - of which there are many, from building stones to whitening agents.

Environmental Impacts

The benefits of the use of heavy stone are reduced if transport emissions are high - local sources should be prioritised, movement by ship has the lowest impact.

The embodied carbon content of limestone per kg is of comparable magnitude to unreinforced concrete, but it is far stronger, and far less of it is used.

Stones need to be chosen carefully and installed correctly to weather without damage. Construction grade stone can be reused. Poor quality stone can be transformed into aggregate or processed into further products.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
4790 kgCO2e

Polyvinyl-chloride (PVC) is made from crude oil and salt extracted from the ground. Oil is distilled to naphtha, which is then cracked to ethylene. Salt is ground to industrialised salt and then electrolysed to chlorine. These reactants are combined to produce a monomer which is then heated to form a slurry and polymerised. The resulting PVC is spun into a powder and then transported to manufacturing facilities where it is melted and extruded or moulded into products.

Production of uPVC is associated with the release of organochlorides and, in particular, dioxins with associated health risks and accumulation in ecosystems.

Environmental Impacts

Demand for use in windows and doors should be reduced as these products come from oil. However, recent façade fires in the UK are making specifiers nervous over the use of flammable materials in building elevations.

For windows, timber with water-based natural stains, and timber/aluminium composite windows offer lower carbon solutions and better performance over time than uPVC. Polyethylene, PEX, or other non-chlorinated plastic products offer better environmental impact than PVC.

As a lightweight material transport of PVC is often lower impact than substitute materials.

Because uPVC degrades over time and because there are so many different formulations in use, the material is not easily recyclable. In the UK only 10% of recycled content is allowed in new uPVC. This means that the bulk of the uPVC now being used will have to be treated as waste at the end of its life, and this presents difficulties in relation to the final disposal.



Carbon impact per m3 material:
12,170kg CO2e

Global production (2018):
1809 Mt

Associated emissions:
7-9% of direct global CO2 emissions

UK production (2018):
7.7 Mt

Net imports (2017):

Forecasted consumption:
Doubles by 2060

Iron ore is dug from the ground and heated to high temperatures with coke (itself produced from the kiln treatment of coal) to produce brittle, high-carbon pig iron. This pig iron is smelted with other alloying elements, mixed with a proportion of scrap, and treated with oxygen to reduce carbon content and produce varying properties. Once impurities have been separated off, the resulting steel is cast into ingots, extruded or rolled, and delivered to manufacturers for fabrication into components.

Environmental Impacts

To reduce our demand for structural steel we can: explore alternative materials where steel is not required, reduce spans, design to suit structural loads on every member, avoid over design and challenge design load assumptions. Factors of safety and code compliance issues may be leading to over design.

Timber, low carbon concrete, or stone and other materials useful in compression can be used as alternatives.

Stainless steel and corten steel may have a high embodied carbon per kilogram but corrosion resistance means that carbon-intensive coatings (such as paint) can be avoided throughout the life of the product, giving a long lifetime, and greater potential for recovery for recycling. Future reuse can be encouraged by labelling and designing for deconstruction (particularly at connections). Recycled steel with some impurities can be used in construction: from scrap steel through electric arc furnace/process can reduce C02 emissions to 33% of new steel.


FCBStudios have made a commitment to interrogate the properties and impact of our material choices and for these to influence our design decisions. Reduce, reuse, recycle and retrofit are at the heart of our practice, alongside a continuing shift to low embodied carbon materials with minimum waste at all stages of a project. Below are links to a selection of projects which demonstrate how material choice can help reduce overall resource consumption and emissions.

Broadcasting Place, Leeds

Completed 2009

Broadcasting Place is a striking mixed-use development close to Leeds city centre. A public/private partnership for property group Downing and Leeds Beckett University, it provides approximately 110,000 square feet of new offices and teaching spaces, and 240 student rooms in a landmark 23 storey tower.

A key element in the design of the buildings is the irregular elevations. Corten steel was chosen as a low maintenance and striking façade material for the building. The plan forms are designed to optimise natural daylight and allow natural ventilation where practicable, given proximity to the motorway that runs alongside the site. Our design team carried out an innovative analysis of the façades, involving 3D computer simulation of all elevations in a detailed research project, to calculate the quantity and distribution of glazing and shading at all points to optimise daylight whilst reducing unwanted solar gain.

A requirement of the brief was the building should have at least 10% of its energy supply delivered from on-site renewable sources. Many investigations were undertaken on different types of ground source heating including open and closed loop systems. The amount of renewable energy was found, in practice, to be significantly in excess of 10%.

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Croft Gardens, Cambridge

Target completion 2021

Croft Gardens is a project for King's College, Cambridge. The scheme aspires to provide enduring architecture complementing the Conservation Area setting, delivered with an exemplar approach to sustainability. The proposal creates 84 new homes for graduates, fellows and their families, as well as generous gardens and communal areas.

Targeting a 100-year design life, the scheme uses high-quality materials which emanate a sense of permanence; these are buildings which are designed to last. The team have been challenged to understand the practical impacts of this extended design life, whilst seeking to use regional and recycled sources of materials. Externally, soft water-struck gault clay bricks and handmade plain roof tiles imply a sense of monolith and reference surrounding vernacular materials.

The brief demanded low carbon emissions, and the project is being assessed against a bespoke sustainability matrix, supplementing the high standards of Passivhaus building performance with an holistic view of sustainability within the contexts of the immediate site and global climate. At completion, it is expected the project will be carbon negative for the first 7-10 years of operation, driven in a large part by the embodied sequestered carbon through use of CLT for its structure and timber as an internal finishing material.

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MMU Business School, Manchester

Completed 2012

Manchester Metropolitan University Business School and Student Hub’s spectacular 23,000 sqm building accommodates 5,000 students and 250 staff and is innovative in its environmental solution, its structure and its materiality. The Business School encompasses formal teaching spaces, while The Hub offers a vibrant street café ambience where students trade ideas and knowledge. A unitised dichroic glass envelope playfully casts shards of multicoloured light across the concrete interior, much like a giant kaleidoscope.

The building design has focused heavily on carbon reduction, in terms of both its operational and embodied energy. A 1,000m2 PV array contributes to off-setting the building's electrical demands.

A first in the UK, the building utilises an innovative cooling system. Chilled water pipe-work is cast into low cement content pre-cast concrete floor slabs, delivering cooling to the spaces without any visible mechanical equipment.

A ground source heat pump provides heating and cooling, allowing heat from areas that require cooling, such as IT rooms, to be used to heat other areas of the building, or to be used to pre-heat the domestic hot water supply.

The completed building has achieved BREEAM Excellent targets, exceeding the university's target for renewables, and improving on the energy use targets.

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Southbank Centre, London

Completed 2018

The restoration and redesign of Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery has given these unique 1960s Brutalist wonders a new lease of life and a low maintenance lower energy future.

Replacing the buildings’ services with new plant, modern controls, LED lighting, and production infrastructure delivers an invisible upgrade supporting Southbank Centre’s ever-widening artistic programme with improved facilities for staff, artists and audiences.

In the Hayward Gallery upgrades to the external walls and roof, including radical reinterpretation of the iconic rooflights, have improved thermal performance and brought controllable natural daylight into the upper galleries – an unmet part of Henry Moore’s original brief. The resulting more stable environmental conditions come with 42% reduction in electricity use.

In the Queen Elizabeth Hall the stage is widened and the airflow reversed to minimise energy use. The foyer is opened up and equipped for artistic use. Back-of-house improvements include a new artists’ entrance and accessible facilities.

Original concrete and cast aluminium finishes have been retained across both buildings and refurbished to preserve their Brutalist uniqueness.

Like all successful projects it grew on a foundation of positive relationships between Southbank Centre and the design team, that continue into further work.

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The Dyson Centre For Neonatal Care, Bath

Completed 2011

The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care has been transferred from a small cramped facility into a pioneering new home: a dramatically improved environment in which the Royal United Hospital can care for 500 premature and sick babies each year.

The building consists of a single storey new-build extension, and the refurbishment of the space occupied by the previous NICU facility. A pioneering holistic and therapeutic approach towards the design has created an environment which allows the staff to practise developmental care.

The NICU is constructed from large cross laminated timber panels which form the structure for the building in a material with low embodied energy. The panellised timber solution provided a quick, clean and quiet construction, essential in an acute healthcare environment. The opportunity to expose the timber internally was maximised. This creates a sense of calm, which, when combined with the quality of daylight and sunlight, helps lower stress levels and lift the spirits for the parents and the staff.

The scheme aspired to high sustainability standards. Construction U-values and air permeability are up to 50% better than the minimum standards, reducing thermal loads and energy consumption. Overall regulated annual CO2 emissions of about 118kgCO2/m2, are 28% better that the ‘Target Emission Rating’.

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The Hive, Worcester

Completed 2012

The Hive is a fully integrated public and university library, an idea completely new to the UK, and highly innovative internationally.

The Hive opened in 2012, having been designed to meet a challenging sustainability brief, including a 50% reduction in Part L CO2 emissions. Since then, it has been continuously monitored to reveal that it operates at an electrical energy consumption of 50kWh·m-2 year-1, about half of its design target (and one third to one quarter that of many contemporary office buildings). Measured data shows the building beats all its designed utility performance targets.

Through innovative parametric modelling developed in-house we were able to remove 250 tonnes of steel in the roof by replacing it with laminated timber. This saved 2,000 tonnes (including sequestering) of CO2 compared with a concrete or steel alternative.

The building is naturally ventilated, cooled using water from the River Severn, and heated by a biomass boiler which uses locally sourced woodchip. By incorporating sustainable measures such as these, The Hive achieved an ‘A’ rating from the EPC, an award of Outstanding by BREEAM and excellent post occupancy performance.

The Hive is a testament to the strength of a collective vision pursued by the client, design and contractor teams working collaboratively to create a high performing, low carbon building.

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University of Roehampton Library, London

Completed 2017

University of Roehampton Library is the centrepiece of an ambitious campus masterplan, characterised by a generous park and garden landscape. The Library delivers over 1,200 study spaces, staff support and specialist work areas over five floors and 7,840sqm. The building has a clear architectural language; the colonnade activates the landscape and lake, with piano nobile floors and a deeply recessed upper storey. Externally a simple palette of high-quality materials includes concrete, masonry and cast aluminium: internally the pre-cast concrete structure is revealed between oak linings.

The Library is designed to be a passive building in energy and comfort terms, with highly insulated façades, high levels of airtightness and roofs supported by a thermally activated building slab (TABS) system installed into the concrete soffits. There is a roof-mounted 3.5kW photovoltaic array and connection to a combined heat and power unit that also supplies the neighbouring Elm Grove residences and conference centre.

A key part of the project was the extensive use of prefabricated elements. This enabled a shortened site construction period, reduced disruption to the surrounding active campus, and improvements in finish quality. The project utilised pre-cast concrete for the primary structural frame and external cladding, and large parts of the internal timber linings were prefabricated units.

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University of Washington Student Housing, Seattle

Completed 2013

FCBStudios were appointed to work with Ankrom Moisan Architects, for the University of Washington in Seattle on this student housing scheme on the western edge of the University Campus and overlooking Portage Bay with distant views of Mount Rainier.

A student community of 926 is housed in a collection of rooms of different scales, from the individual study bedrooms to shared apartments. Apartments are organised around routes of vertical circulation embedded in fingers of accommodation. Circulation routes through the public realm are animated by the shared communal spaces which serve the student community; such as the coffee shop, Great Room, laundry, and shared music and study rooms.

The University brief requested the lowest environmental impact within their capital budget, and to build community through sustainability that speaks to prospective residents. The buildings use structural timber walls and floors over concrete lower floors, a common US typology. The project achieved LEED Gold certification, targeting 30% less energy in use than the Seattle Energy Code. PVC windows were argued locally to have better life, and overall performance than timber for their budget.

The Architectural Commission for the University praised this as “an exemplar project” in a district of the campus which was undergoing much re-development.

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Carbon Counts began life as a physical exhibition in the FCBS London gallery space. It featured a series of floor to ceiling height ‘totems’ each representing a different, commonly used building material. The size of each totem had the same volume as 1kg of CO2 . Each totem also held a sample of the material it represented, and the size of that sample was the equivalent volume of CO2 emitted by its manufacture. To take a look at the exhibition, scroll through the images below.

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Architects Declare – A Workshop on Embodied Carbon

Signatories of Architects Declare came together in FCBStudios’ London studio in March 2020, for a day of learning and debate around embodied carbon.

Divided into three parts, and introduced by Peter Clegg, senior partner at FCBStudios and member of the Architects Declare steering group, recordings of all the presentations are now available to watch on Vimeo.

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Carbon Counts Opens at Liverpool School of Architecture

The exhibition, which is currently based in Manchester, will relocate to Liverpool on 1st February 2022, thanks to a collaboration between FCB Studios, the Liverpool School of Architecture and LSA Climate Crisis – the School’s student climate action group – with support from the University of Liverpool and the School of the Arts.

LSA Climate Change works to increase awareness of the environmental impact of the construction industry, and how architecture can play a key role in mitigating climate change through conscious design. By working with FCB Studios and the School of Architecture to bring this exhibition to Liverpool, the group will provide a tangible experience for students and staff that draws attention to the carbon impact of materials commonly used in construction.

The exhibition will run at the Liverpool School of Architecture, University of Liverpool, 25 Abercromby Square, L69 7ZN (entrance via Bedford Street) from 1st February to May 2022. Entry is free. Opening times are 10.00am-4.00pm on weekdays (other times by appointment only). For further information contact

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Material Matters PechaKucha

For International PechaKucha Day 2020 we brought together a programme of inspiring speakers who have considered materials in new ways to reduce waste, create strategies for reuse and reduce the embodied carbon of the products they design.

The evening, entitled ‘Material Matters’, covered topics ranging from product design, fashion, bio-fragmentation and architecture.

Communications design expert, Sophie Thomas, shone a light on what happens to our unwanted products, Juan Ferrari and Ruth Kelly Waskett, lighting designers from Hoare Lea asked how we can become more comfortable living without artificial light, and textile designer, Laetitia Forst, explored design solutions for creating new recyclable materials for fashion.

FCBStudios’ Marcus Rothnie explored how we found appropriate construction uses for plastic that correspond to the material’s longevity in two projects – one high tech, one very low tech - for the annual Forest of the Imagination festival in Bath, and how they engaged the community in thinking about the issue and forming good habits.

All the presentations from the evening are now available to view.

Event Image Laetitia Forst Matthew Barnett Howland and Oliver Wilton Ruth Kelly Waskett and Juan Ferrari Sophie Thomas Thomas Duggan Thomas Leech

Material Matters: Understanding Embodied Carbon in Building Materials

This event brought together a panel of speakers to talk through the processes involved in the creation of common building materials. Each process contributes to the final product; how they are extracted, how they are formed, and how we use them. But they also contribute to the amount of embodied carbon they emit. Understanding these steps will enable us to make more informed decisions and lessen our impact on the environment.

Chaired by Hattie Hartman, Architects Journal Sustainability Editor

Nick Hodges, FCBStudios - Timber
Eva MacNamara, Expedition Engineering - Concrete
Steve Webb, Webb Yates - Stone
David Bates, FCBStudios - Ceramics
Lex Harrison, Arup - Brick

You can watch a recording of the event including the Q&A here:

Material Matters Invitation Just Graphic