April 2020

The Future We Choose
By Kate Simonen, Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

Change can be frightening, painful and disruptive. Change can also be inspiring, joyful and transformative. The amount of global change that has happened in the last few months is stunning. The uncertainty about our near and far term futures is daunting. How can we move forward with the optimism that is required to work through challenges to create needed change in our world?

I am optimistic because I can see how quickly we have come together as communities and change our behavior to work to the shared goal of managing the impacts of COVID. I see how we can adapt to ‘new normals’ taking on very difficult challenges to address a global challenge.

I am optimistic because of the growing culture of socially engaged action within the building sector. This is most visible in the energy and vision of our next generation of leaders. I see students at the University of Washington shaping new ways to learn and act. I see high school students developing embodied carbon curriculum in Massachusetts and teaching it to middle school students in Washington. I see young professionals in the Carbon Leadership Forum's network forming regional embodied carbon hubs across North America and soon in Australia, Asia and the UK. We in the building sector have unique expertise bringing both creativity to envision the future we want and pragmatism to find solutions that will help us get there.

I am optimistic because we have no other choice but to be so. Inspired by the recent publication The Future We Choose by ‘the architects of the Paris Climate agreement’, I choose a future where the world comes together to create and sustain the healthy, equitable and beautiful world we desire for ourselves and others. If we remain stubbornly optimistic, pragmatically creative and radically collaborative, we can come together and solve the great global challenge of COVID and the equally important challenge of carbon.

MASS Design  
Ilima Primary School
Tshuapa Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gardner Jean Baptiste
Butaro Hospital, Burera District, Rwanda,

Impact-driven, carbon-storing architecture

Before construction of Butaro Hospital began in 2008, the Burera District did not have a hospital or local doctor, putting 340,000 people living in the region without direct access to healthcare. Reaching the nearest hospital meant traveling several hours by foot and two hours by vehicle.

Now, providing both inpatient and outpatient services, the Butaro Hospital comprises a pediatric ward, intensive care units and an emergency room. The facility was designed to control transmission of airborne disease and reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections through strategies promoting cool air circulation, moisture control and leveraging landscaping to create an external environment that would prompt patients to spend time outside and thus, promote healing and improved health outcomes.

When the patients are recovering, they look at the gardens and the landscape, and they feel like everything is going well,” says Rwandan gardener Jean Baptiste in a video produced by MASS. Baptiste has collaborated with MASS on building projects throughout Rwanda to design open-ended, restorative landscapes. “The secret of work is mutual respect,” says Baptiste.

Learn More


By The Numbers  

Mass Timber Optimization & LCA
CLF study: how mass timber buildings can be optimized for material efficiency. Regionally-specific LCA case study of a mass timber office building in the Pacific Northwest. Read the study.

Series Begins April 23
Eight-week CLF series  includes Background and Basics, LCA and Wood, Tracking Carbon in North America, Current and Future Uses of Wood LCA in the Building Industry. Register for the series.


Member Impact  

Katie Ross
Global Real Estate & Sustainability Lead, Microsoft

William Paddock
Founder & Managing Director, WAP Sustainability


Steph Carlisle
Principal & Researcher, Kieran Timberlake

Eden Brukman
Senior Green Building Coordinator, SF Dept. of the Environment

Find out what steps our members are taking to address embodied carbon
Learn More
Inspiring Action  

How I Became a Champion of Embodied Carbon

by Christie Gamble, Senior Director of Sustainability, CarbonCure Technologies

As the Senior Director of Sustainability at CarbonCure Technologies and a Board Member of the Carbon Leadership Forum, I have found myself at the forefront of a rapidly growing movement to reduce embodied carbon in the built environment. How did I — a Canadian prairie girl and construction industry outsider — become a champion of the embodied carbon movement?

In the summer of 2013, I joined an ambitious technology innovator full of passionate individuals determined to reduce the carbon footprint of the concrete industry. Without any prior understanding of concrete or embodied carbon, but with an ardent desire to pursue a career that would drive positive social impact, I enthusiastically joined the cause.


Read the Essay


This month’s action checklist

Sign up for 8-week webinar series starting April 23 – “Wood Carbon Seminars” --- 9:00 AM PST
Register to attend CLF Network Quarterly Call April 17 on Zoom.
Join the new online CLF Community for collaboration, conversation, and networking with thousands of inspired building industry professionals.

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.


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Carbon Leadership Forum
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98105-5726
United States

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