With Architecture 2030’s CarbonPositive approaching, my colleagues and I have been reflecting on our use of the terms “carbon-negative” and “carbon-positive”.
It seems as though the international building community has come to share Architecture 2030’s definition of “carbon-positive” as, “A city, development, building, or product that goes beyond carbon neutral to create an environmental benefit and intentionally remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, turning it into useful forms.” This word association is good branding, but feels contradictory to how we calculate carbon values.
In my experience, builders in the US tend to define “carbon-positive” as having a positive carbon value, which is climate-negative. Using “carbon-negative” to describe a process in which more carbon is captured than emitted feels more accurate, but doesn’t tell a good PR story.
I’m curious as to what this community thinks should be the standard way of describing these concepts. Can we use contradictory definitions in different contexts? Or must the language of our outreach match the terms used in the scientific literature.
What term do you use to describe a product or project that captures more carbon than it emits?