Carbon Budget Policies

Hey Folks -

I’m trying to find other policies, whether enacted or forthcoming that have set a limit to carbon emissions allowed by a project.

I know that Denmark (Ny aftale: CO2-krav til nybyggeri fra 2023 | Ingeniøren) will be implementing a 12 kgCO2e/m2/yr over a 50 years of life policy starting in 2023. I’m at the mercy of google translate, so I can’t tell if this is operational or embodied or (hopefully) both.

Are there any other policies or budgets out there? Or even a study/report that identifies a budget based on academic research.


The ILFI Zero Carbon Standard has a 500 kg CO2e/m2 limit (A1-A5). I would be curious to know where that value came from. UK has RIBA and LETI targets.

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@lauren.wingo thanks for sharing. I will dive deeper into these :slight_smile:

I’m not sure about limits to carbon emissions specifically but the use, generally by municipalities and campuses, of Innovation Districts might hold some interest for you in this search. The idea is that an Innovation District is legally set up to surpass state or local code. Here in MN you cannot require a building to exceed state code but Innovation Districts gets around that.

@pdoss-smith are there any examples of an “Innovation District” that I should look up, specifically? I’ll take a look around on my own, of course, but if there is anything you can share, please do!


I could not remember the name so I looked it up also and there are indeed several that popped up in a simple search.
I was peripherally involved in the one I list here (not sure how to make link work):

I list this web address for the simple reason that it is also registered with EcoDistricts, which I believe is an underutilized protocol.

Towerside is located in St Paul, MN

@pdoss-smith thanks Patrick!

As we investigate this master plan, we are looking at neighborhood level certifications as well, that will include a comparison between: EcoDistricts, LEED ND, and LBC’s Community Challenge.

Thanks again for the input!

For an update, I am starting with Denmark’s carbon budget to identify good/better/best targets for total carbon budget benchmarking (12/8/5 kgCO2e/m2/yr).

ILFI’s 500 kg CO2e/m2 limit is based on an average of all building types from CLF’s benchmark study:

In my opinion, that number is too low because the buildings in the CLF study did not always include A4-5 or interior partitions but ILFI requires them to be included. I belief the CLF is updating this study which will likely result in an updated ILFI limit.

Regardless, it seems strange to put a single embodied carbon limit on all buildings regardless of building type and needs.

@Rushyan, thank you for chiming in!

To me, it seems like these benchmarks are going to continue to expand as more scope is realized and included into the system boundary, as you’ve pointed out. While CLF has some data on MEP systems, I still see this as a big unknown, as well as Refrigerant (and how refrigerant leakage is handled/accounted for).

Comparing the 500 kgCO2e/m2 ILFI number to the Denmark policy makes me think maybe Denmark isn’t including some items within their system boundary too. 12 kgCO2e/m2 across 50 years is a total of 600 kgCO2e/m2.

And likewise with New Zealand’s carbon budgets from BRANZ, is suggesting a carbon budget of 236 tCO2e per office building (avg size of 1,136 m2), which comes out to only 207.75 kgCO2e/m2. Residential is even less at 19.9 tCO2e for medium density housing (avg size of 114 m2), which comes out to only 174.56 kgCO2e/m2.