CLF
  December 2021

More Urgency, More Action

by Kate Simonen, Executive Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

Last month at Glascow we saw pledges and protests. Last week we met with Governor Inslee and Representative Deurr to discuss low carbon construction in Washington State and the new Low Carbon Construction Task Force launched by the Pacific Coast Collaborative to tackle this topic across the region. The US government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has a $45 million dollar program to support development of ‘carbon negative’ materials and buildings. While there have been impressive shifts, more action is needed.

For more action, we need more urgency to act. Urgency to act across all aspects of our lives from the personal to the political. If you are fortunate enough to gather with friends and family this holiday season, I encourage you to plant the seeds of this urgency, followed by stories of optimism and opportunity. Some in my back pocket include: how much I love my induction stove-better than gas!, an aunt who asked how to get low carbon concrete when remodeling her patio, and of course the swelling movement of embodied carbon experts and actors changing the building industry one building, one specification, one material at a time!

Thank you so much for your part in spreading awareness and action to enable total building decarbonization. I’m amazed at how much has changed in the past few years. Let's keep up the pace, continue working together, sharing best practices and challenging each other to do better. Thanks so much for your support and partnership!

Mithun:
Embodying Change
 

Interface Carpet
Mithun’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions in the built environment is a key tenet of an integrated design practice, informing project approach, firm culture and advocacy efforts. Increasingly, research and development plays a valuable role in advancing evidence-based decision making in the work, transforming projects and design through meaningful inquiry and exploration.  "Interior Design: We are actively working to understand the embodied carbon trends in our interiors work and the relative impacts of finish materials, casework and furnishings. Over the past year, we have benchmarked three of our recent tenant improvement (TI) projects, including our own Seattle office, with a GWP range of 25-50 kg CO2e/m2. A roadmap for carbon reduction in interiors is critical. Embodied carbon impacts of TI work aggregate over time with tenant turnover or refurbishment; by providing low-carbon design standards to our clients we can achieve carbon reductions at scale."

Linking Research, Development, and Projects

​by Claire McConnell, Associate and Building Performance Analyst, Mithun
and Sean Cryan, Associate Principal, Mithun

In 2004, while creating a sustainable development framework for Lloyd Crossing in Portland, Oregon, the one component not readily available for analysis was the embodied carbon related to construction. This gap inspired Mithun’s development of the free, online Build Carbon Neutral (BCN) calculator to offer high-level insight into the embodied carbon impacts of early design decisions. Widely referenced for 15 years, the BCN calculator is now being updated to incorporate advanced structural, architectural and site design factors, synthesizing what we as a practice and an industry have learned since its release in 2007.

Read the Full Story!
MEP 2040 Challenge Campaign Update  

18 MEP Firms Signed Up for Decarbonization Initiative 


In October, CLF announced the MEP 2040 Challenge, a new initiative from CLF to galvanize efforts to decarbonize building systems across the MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) industry": As of December, 18 MEP firms have now committed to drive down the embodied and operational carbon footprint of MEP systems they specify and procure, and an additional 16 firms and organizations have signalled their support for the initiative.

By adopting the Commitment, each firm is confirming that it will:

  • Establish a company plan to reduce operational and embodied carbon across MEP systems on all projects, targeting zero by 2040. Measure and report progress against that plan annually.
  • Request low-GWP refrigerant availability when designing systems to reduce or eliminate GHG emissions from refrigerants.
  • Request Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in project specifications for MEP system components.
  • Participate in a quarterly MEP 2040 Forum and a CLF Community discussion group to share lessons learned and contribute to a growing body of knowledge.
     

The Commitment requires specific plans from building designers to reduce the carbon footprinbt of their projects. With a continually shortening timeline and increasing necessity to cut emissions, it is critical to understand where there is opportunity to minimize the impacts of MEP systems. Achieving zero carbon requires gaining knowledge, then catalyzing change in our industry.

Join the Movement

Embodied Carbon
Policy Update

 

Looking Ahead to Embodied Carbon
Policy Action in 2022

by Meghan Lewis
Senior Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum

2021 was a busy year for embodied carbon policy, and 2022 looks to be filled with even more action at the federal, state, and local levels to reduce embodied carbon. Read below for a few highlights, and check out our Policy Toolkit where we will continue to add resources and track policies in our embodied carbon policy map.

At the federal level, the Build Back Better Act (currently waiting for a vote in the Senate) appropriates over $4 billion to fund an EPD grant program, a program to identify low carbon materials for transportation projects, and programs for procurement of low carbon materials on General Services Administration (GSA) projects and projects.

At the regional level, leaders at COP26 in Glasgow announced the launch of a Low Carbon Construction Task Force as part of the Pacific Coast Collaborative between California, Oregon, Washington, the province of British Columbia and the cities of Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles. As described in the press release, the Pacific Coast of North America represents the world’s fifth–largest economy, so this task force represents a huge opportunity for accelerating innovation, investment, and market development for low carbon materials.

At the state level, state legislators introduced bills aimed at decarbonizing construction materials through procurement in nine states in 2021 (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington).

Read the Full Report

CLF Releases Embodied Carbon Toolkit for Architects

 

Architects Are Critical to Addressing the Climate Crisis

The AIA-CLF Embodied Carbon Toolkit for Architects serves to provide architects an overview and the necessary steps to be taken to reduce embodied carbon in their projects. This resource is divided into three parts, introducing the necessary steps and resources to take in reducing embodied carbon. This resource intends to empower building designers by:

  • introducing embodied carbon and discussing its significance in furthering architects’ influence in decarbonizing the building industry.
  • providing an understanding of measuring embodied carbon through the methodology of a life cycle assessment.
  • equipping them with strategies to reduce embodied carbon in their own projects.
  • incorporating additional resources for implemented strategies and tools that this resource examines.
Explore the Toolkit

Position Now Open:
CLF Policy Researcher 

 

The Policy Researcher will be responsible for the execution of research and analysis, development of guidance documents and educational resources, and stakeholder education and outreach to inform the development and implementation of cross-sectoral climate policies that target embodied carbon. This position will report to the Senior Policy Researcher and be a part of the CLF’s core research team.

Apply for This Position

Momentum is building to decarbonize how we plan, design and construct buildings and infrastructure. As the eminent North American organization focusing on embodied carbon, the CLF is growing quickly and will have a few additional career opportunities become available in the near future. Read more about these exciting opportunities and let us know if you'd like to be updated when the jobs are officially posted!

Sign Up for Further Job Updates

This month’s action checklist

Join the online CLF Community – focus groups, information, collaboration, research, resources, exploration, innovation.
Check out News You Can Use with comprehensive coverage of the movement to reduce embodied carbon.
MEP 2040 Challenge: A rapidly growing movement to decarboinize building systems. Sign the Commitment!

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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University of Washington
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