City "climate first" embodied carbon policy help

As a City, we intend to develop a policy for ranking project proposals based on sustainability criteria, including embodied carbon. Project types will vary widely, including examples such as:

  • New construction
  • Renovation/rehabilitation of a City building
  • A new playground installation
  • Office equipment replacement

We are looking for best-practice policies upon which to model ours, and the best-adapted tools to require for bidders to use in reporting embodied carbon impacts of their proposals. Can you steer us to cities that are in the forefront of this type of effort, or point us to specific model tools and/or policies?

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Hi Ann,

Together with the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) and Architecture 2030, at One Click LCA we published a framework on reducing embodied carbon in cities. This framework provides guidance for cities considering policies that can deliver the highest impact within the their geopolitical contexts and regulations. The framework contains policies, proposed language, intent as well as potential impact.

There are 52 embodied carbon reduction policies, grouped into five categories:
Zoning & Land use
Building Regulations
Waste & Circularity
Financial Policies

You can download the report here.

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Denmark is to my knowledge, the furthest along and leading the charge.

City of Portland - Current Sustainable Procurement Initiatives | The City of Portland, Oregon
City of Vancouver - Vancouver Releases Plan to Reduce Embodied Emissions - Mantle Developments (thank you Ryan Zizzo for summarizing this one!)
Marin County concrete code - Low-Carbon Concrete - County of Marin

These are mostly concrete-oriented, but the principles are consistent. The tool of choice for reporting of embodied carbon emissions is the Type III Environmental Product Declaration. You will see it referenced in effectively every policy proposal that intends to measure and reduce embodied carbon.

State-level policies have also been proposed/enacted. Some examples:
NJ: NJ Legislature
CO: Global Warming Potential For Public Project Materials | Colorado General Assembly
OR: HB4139 2022 Regular Session - Oregon Legislative Information System

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Thank you, Vasilis, Scott, and Eric! Much appreciated!!

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