12/8 was a big day for embodied carbon policy!

Yesterday was a big day for embodied carbon policy in the U.S. that really demonstrates the growing momentum on embodied carbon policy and leadership from policymakers at the local and federal levels alike:

  • Biden signed an Executive Order addressing a broad range of sustainability strategies to be executed across the federal government, including: “Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions”. Specifically, the GSA will require contractors to disclose the embodied carbon of building materials for new building and major modernization contracts beginning in 2022, among other actions.

  • On the other side of the country, San Francisco launched their new 2021 Climate Action Plan. Check out RPC-1 (on pg. 106), which includes 7 strategies to support "Achieving a total carbon balance across the building and infrastructure sectors."


@mlewis - this is very exciting news.

Will there be a maximum carbon limit for common building materials/finishes/products or merely just the transparency requirement to disclose the performance of what is procured?

Thanks for sharing!


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Thanks for sharing @mlewis. I looked over the Biden Exec Order and San Francisco Climate Action Plan 2021, and hope following observations may be helpful and stimulate some debate:
While net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, with 50% emissions reduction by 2032 are positive, these seem to rely on electrification and energy efficiency. But could find no mention of reducing size and consumption carbon of new construction.
Was gratified to see Responsible Production and Consumption highlighted, although this focuses on waste reduction, reuse and recycling, rather than avoiding and reducing demand. BUT great to read (p.102) about ‘Consumption-Based Emissions Inventory’ being established, recognizing upstream emissions that SF outsources to other communities and the equity implications.
As I have mentioned in other posts, the Elephant in the Room of real estate remains the need to drastically constrain the extent of commercial real estate especially, as I highlighted in my Book Blog: The Impact of Overbuilding on People and the Planet - Book in Focus.
Much welcome comments…!
@will.nash @debbie.raphael

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