Due to the large volume and mass of materials used, the construction industry is one of the sectors with the highest environmental impact. However, to provide good quality, affordable, and low-energy housing, the business case must be maintained. Accordingly, we aimed to develop
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Due to the large volume and mass of materials used, the construction industry is one of the sectors with the highest environmental impact. However, to provide good quality, affordable, and low-energy housing, the business case must be maintained. Accordingly, we aimed to develop and test a calculator to measure the ecological footprint of the embodied carbon in materials used in construction projects in a standardized way, without the need for environmental or even civil engineering expertise, and thus in a way that is accessible to SMEs. The novelty of our research is that although there are calculators for measuring the environmental impact (e.g., carbon footprint) of the construction industry, and there is a methodology for calculating the ecological footprint of construction, there is no free, easy-to-use, online calculator for calculating the ecological footprint of embodied carbon in materials available to all enterprises. In other words, this approach extends our previously developed corporate ecological footprint calculator with the environmental impacts of material usage. The study summarises the baseline research for an ecological footprint calculator, tested on two new condominium buildings and the energy renovation of five condominium buildings, built with a prefabricated technology typical in Hungary and other post-socialist countries. Based on our results and in accordance with former literature sources, most of the ecological footprint of new construction projects is determined by materials with high mass and volume, in particular, concrete, steel, and masonry; so it is not necessary to take into account all construction materials in a calculator in a detailed way. We also conclude that renovation and ongoing maintenance, as well as preservation, are recommended for structurally sound buildings, as embodied carbon in materials in the case of an energy upgrade of an existing condominium building has an environmental impact of 0.3–0.8 global hectares per dwelling, depending on the technical content, while in the construction of a new building, this value is between 10.49–14.22 global hectares. Our results can help investors and clients in their decisions, and policymakers in determining urban development directions.