CLF
  November 2020

Tipping Point?


By Anthony Hickling, Managing Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

After years of measured progress in our development of the tools and expertise to reduce embodied carbon, we may be finally on the verge of a significant shift in 2021. As CLF Senior Policy Researcher Meghan Lewis sums up in this month's newsletter, urgency is shifting away from basic understanding of the importance of embodied carbon to us taking bold steps towards meaningful action and reductions.

We’ve become sharply aware that structural change in our industry depends on multiple strategies. Among them are: 1) developing research and educating stakeholders (like you!) in and out of the building industry on the importance of addressing embodied carbon now; 2) growing a network of organizations and professionals who collaborate to collectively build tools, share data, and create systems-level solutions; 3) ensuring there is a marketplace for sustainable materials and a business case to use them; 4) supporting policy-makers to develop carbon smart policies through codes, ordinances, plans, policies, and public investment. (And more!)

We're all acutely aware of the short timeline we have for urgent climate action. Leadership must happen at every level across the public and private sectors. We must ensure that reducing embodied carbon is a priority for every project, in every company, at every office, for every jobsite and wherever else we have influence.

So here is how you can make an immediate impact: Will you forward this newsletter today to at least five of your co-workers or partners? Will you help your company to sign up as a Carbon Leadership Forum Sponsor? Will you log onto the CLF Community today to add your voice and ideas to the decarbonization conversation? How else can you push the needle one step further?

See you online,

EC Policy Preview  

 

CLF

United States Buy Clean policy mapping, as of October 2020

 

What is Buy Clean?

Buy Clean is a policy approach that aims to reduce embodied carbon in the built environment by setting government procurement requirements in favor of lower-carbon construction materials.

 

Where Buy Clean Began

The first American iteration of Buy Clean legislation was passed by the State of California in October 2017.

Looking Ahead to Embodied Carbon Policy Action in 2021

by Meghan Lewis, Research Engineer, Carbon Leadership Forum

As the tools and expertise available to measure and reduce embodied carbon have expanded, the urgency has shifted necessarily away from basic understanding of the importance of embodied carbon to taking bold steps towards meaningful action and reductions.

Policy is an essential step towards creating the scale of action required to rapidly reduce embodied carbon in construction. Policy at the local, state, and federal levels is uniquely positioned to:

  • Create a market demand for low carbon products through government procurement policy
  • Encourage standardization of embodied carbon data collection and reporting
  • Encourage investment into (or provide direct funding for) the research and development of technologies needed for industrial decarbonization
  • Extend education and action on embodied carbon beyond industry or regional leaders

Reducing embodied carbon in buildings is also dependent on the decarbonization of the industrial sector, which requires new strategies focused on research and technology to address the unique challenges of carbon-intensive manufacturing processes. Electrification, fuel switching, and energy efficiency - all key solutions for addressing emissions in cities and the building sector as a whole – are not enough, because they do not reduce the direct release of carbon during manufacturing. The level of investment required in infrastructure changes is significant, and requires a large signal from the entire construction industry.

Policies can support increased investment into research and technology for carbon capture and other solutions for direct emissions during manufacturing as well as sending that signal to create a market demand for lower carbon products.

Read More

 

By The Numbers  

CLF
 

How do sectors of the US construction industry contribute to global warming?

Public vs. Private and Project Type. Data Source: Spend based on U.S. Census Bureau data, “Annual Value of Construction Spending Put in Place” for 2018; Global warming potential estimated from Environmental Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO LCA) data from the U.S. EPA (reference year 2017), which presents environmental impacts per dollar spent in various industrial sectors. Read the article on embodied carbon policy.

Member Impact  
CLF CLF

Julie Kreigh
Kriegh Architectural Studio
Research Scientist, CLF

Scott Henson
Co-founder, Drawdown Seattle; tech executive; climate activist

CLF CLF

Vicki Rybl
LCA Consultant, Sphera

Tien Peng
VP of Sustainability, Codes and Standards National Ready Mixed Concrete Association

Find out what steps our members are doing to address embodied carbon
Learn More
Introducing CLF Staff:
Andrew Himes
 
CLF CLF

by Andrew Himes, Director of Collective Impact, Carbon Leadership Forum

In October I happily joined the Carbon Leadership Forum staff in a new permanent position. Some of you may know that I have worked with Kate and the Carbon Leadership Forum for a few years now, first as a volunteer, then in a part-time and temporary position, and now as a full-timer.

Collective impact is not a new or particularly complicated idea. It just means you invite everybody who claims a common purpose to unite in common action. It means that true social change is about equity, sharing and collaboration. Social change is about listening well, and offering your passion, resources, energy, and expertise to achieve a future you could not possibly reach without allies and friends.

Collective impact has been the core methodology and strategic framework for all major social change movements in US history, from the struggle to end slavery to the fight for women’s right to vote, from the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s to our current effort to address the climate challenge in the context of economic inequality and structural racism.

Read the Complete Essay
SE 2050 Commitment Launches November 12

Engineers/Firms Rally at Greenbuild to Decarbonize Structures

During this year's Greenbuild International Conference occurring November 10-12, the Structural Engineers (SE) 2050 Commitment Program, backed by the Structural Engineering Institute (SEI), will officially launch to the public. The commitment program was developed in response to the initiative put forth by the members of the University of Washington's Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF).

The CLF’s challenge to structural engineers and their firms was to establish embodied carbon benchmarks and reduction goals to achieve net-zero embodied carbon in buildings by the year 2050. Therefore, the SE 2050 Commitment’s goal is to provide structural engineers with the necessary tools and resources to contribute and track projects towards the vision of net-zero embodied carbon buildings by 2050.

Learn More

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 – Latest ideas, knowledge, and tools to build the future of concrete construction. For registration discount, use coupon code "CLF40".
Webinar: Shrinking Carbon Emissions Through Innovative Cement and Concrete Technologies on November 17. How concrete producers and the AEC community can work together on practical solutions.
Check out Carbon Leadership Forum News with comprehensive coverage of the movement to reduce embodied carbon.

About the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington

Who We Are

  • The Carbon Leadership Forum accelerates transformation of the building sector to radically reduce the embodied carbon in building materials and construction.
  • We pioneer research, create resources, foster cross-sector collaboration, and incubate member-led initiatives to bring embodied carbon emissions of buildings down to zero.
  • We are architects, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, building owners, and policymakers who care about the future and take bold steps to eliminate embodied carbon from buildings and infrastructure.

 

www.carbonleadershipforum.org

 

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