CLF
  October 2020

Making climate-friendly design central to rebuilding

By Kate Simonen, Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

This essay published in the October 2020 series Health Planet, Healthy People by the University of Washington Population Health Initiative.

The  global  response  to COVID-19 brought drastic changes: Factories closed, transportation stopped and construction paused.  National greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 26%. The scale of change is impressive, but  the social and economic costs of this change are devastating.

Governments often use construction spending to spur economic recovery — but that must be done in a way that reduces carbon emissions. Around the world, significant energy and materials are used to construct and operate buildings. The Carbon Leadership Forum at the UW works toward decarbonizing the  built environment.

We have climate-friendly building solutions ready now. Core principles were agreed upon at  Carbon Smart Building Day in 2018, and we  have all the expertise we need  to achieve them — for new and existing buildings, with attention to health and equity.

To create the future we want — in which all people can live in healthy, equitable and just societies — we can’t simply cease building. We must build to house, educate and employ people. We must also radically reduce carbon emissions and develop ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it. We can use biology (trees, bamboo) and chemistry (novel concretes) to achieve this. Interventions within the building sector have a ripple effect — spurring innovation in manufacturing and heavy industry, creating local jobs, building healthy homes and reducing occupants’ energy costs.

We will need to invest to recover from COVID-19. If we invest strategically, we can build meaningful climate solutions that benefit a wide cross-section of society.

Wood Carbon Queries  
CLF

Depleting or enhancing carbon storage?
Critical questions about the role of timber in reducing embodied carbon and its net impact on the environment.

 

 

Meet the experts
Cynthia West - US Forest Service; Kent Wheiler - UW; Reid Miner - NCASI; Elaine Oneil - CORRIM; Lauren Cooper - MSU; Grant Domke - USFS; Pat Layton - Clemson U.; David Diaz - Ecotrust; James Salazar - Coldstream Consulting; Maggie Wildnauer - Sphera; Edie Sonne Hall - Three Trees Consulting

Learning About Forests, Carbon, and Wood Products

by Monica Huang
Research Engineer, Carbon Leadership Forum

In April 2020 we launched the Wood Carbon Seminars, an 8-week webinar series that invited wood experts to answer the building industry’s common and critical questions about wood carbon. Over 400 people registered to receive access to the webinars, with 100-200 people attending each session. These numbers exceeded our initial expectations, but perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised, given the building industry’s growing interest in using more mass timber and other biogenic materials. Why did we launch the Wood Carbon Seminars and what did we learn from it?

Read More

 

By The Numbers  

CLF
 
Wood Volume Per Acre: US Growing Stocks Relative to Timber Areas
This figure shows that while timberland area (right) has remained fairly constant since the 1950s, forest stocks (measured by volume) have been gradually increasing over time (left). Produced by Mila Alvarez, U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, available at USA Forests, based on Oswalt et al 2019, from Kent Wheiler’s presentation for the CLF's Wood Carbon Seminars.
Member Impact  
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Theresa Blaine
US Environmental Protection Agency

Ryan Zizzo
Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer, Mantle314

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Dalton Owens
Student, University of Washington College of Built Environments

Victor Olgyay
Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute

Find out what steps our members are doing to address embodied carbon
Learn More
Change Agency,
Value Change
 
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Renee Cheng is a renowned educator, researcher, and current dean of the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments.

Collisions are violent. The greater the mass or velocity of objects, the greater the energy released. The crises of the pandemic, economic crash, and social justice outcries are massive and still accelerating. In the wake of their collision, they will reveal new questions for our profession—and newfound energy to address them.

Previously, architects pondering whether a new building was worthy of adding to our canon would ask “What does it look like?” and maybe “How well does it function?”

Now we need to know more: What’s its embodied carbon? Is it resilient to natural disasters? Did innovation help eliminate waste or increase value? Furthermore, are its supply streams fair trade? Does its construction or operation depend on the economics of indentured or slave labor? Can its airflow help stop the spread of disease? Whom does the building benefit?

Read the Complete Essay
Getting to Zero by 2050  
CLF

The World Green Building Council launches new report outlining the climate and business benefits of tackling embodied carbon in Asia Pacific and calls for net zero emissions by 2050 in the built environment. Report by GRESB.

London, UK – The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) launched a new report focused on the Asia Pacific region that outlines the business and climate opportunities of tackling embodied carbon in the built environment. The Asia Pacific Embodied Carbon Primer raises awareness on what embodied carbon is, where it occurs throughout a building and infrastructure asset’s lifecycle and how tackling embodied carbon can catalyze Asia Pacific to building back better post COVID-19.

It sets out key actions that can be taken today by business, government and civil society to raise awareness, set ambitions, drive demand and make substantial progress in reducing embodied carbon of projects, materials and products.

60% of the world’s population currently live in the Asia Pacific region and the region is projected to have significant growth and new buildings and infrastructure over the coming decades. It is also one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change.

 

Read the Full Report

 

This month’s action checklist

Join the online CLF Community – focus groups, information, collaboration, research, resources, exploration, innovation.
Join CLF at the Global Concrete Summit, online from November 30 to December 10 – Hosted by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association and Grey Matters, the Summit is designed to bring practitioners, researchers and policy makers together to exchange the latest ideas, knowledge, and tools to build the future of concrete construction. For a registration discount, use the coupon code "CLF40".
Check out Carbon Leadership Forum News with comprehensive coverage of the movement to reduce embodied carbon.

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