by Kate Simonen, Executive Director, Carbon Leadership Forum
WOW. We’re very excited to have been selected to support ARPA-E’s HESTIA program with a multi-year $4M project focused on data, methods and tools to support the development of carbon storing materials and building designs over the next few years. This will accelerate our collective goal of making buildings a solution to climate change.
The ARPA-E work will be deeply collaborative, drawing from a team of UW researchers with expertise in climate modeling, forestry, dynamic LCA, material science, design, engineering, data science, and tool development. This grant will support CLF in growing its research team and continuing its commitment to accurate, trusted, rigorous, and open access LCA data and tools.
Can you help us and take a minute to consider if you or someone you know might be interested in joining us to execute this bold vision? We’ll be hiring technical and communication experts to join our interdisciplinary team. Please sign up to receive updates when positions are posted.
Marketing Director, Nexii Building Solutions
Sr. Conservation Architect & Urbanist, MTBA Associates Inc.
Vice-President, Communications, Softwood Lumber Board
Lead Engineer, Materials Performance, WSP Canada
Find out what our members are doing to address embodied carbon Learn More
by Stephanie Carlisle, Senior Policy Researcher for the Carbon Leadership Forum
The promise of radically decarbonizing the building sector lies, in part, with replacing high carbon materials with lower carbon alternatives. One of the most promising areas of research has been on materials that are not simply less carbon intensive, but those which actually draw down atmospheric carbon and store it over time. Building materials that make use of agricultural feedstocks, wood products, and direct carbon utilization all have these properties. Still, evaluating their merits has been challenging since these processes fall outside the standard practice of carbon accounting for building materials, which tends to focus more on emissions in the factory, and less on those in the forest, the field and the landfill.
In the coming months, ARPA-E will announce a cohort of material and building design teams for the “Harnessing Emissions into Structures Taking Inputs from the Atmosphere” (HESTIA) program, each developing a negative carbon and/or building solution. CLF, along with a team of researchers at the University of Washington, has been awarded $3.7 M over 4 years to lead the Parametric Open Data (POD) LCA project during which we will work closely with each HESTIA material and building design team to develop custom, parametric LCA screening tools to evaluate their performance at a material and building scale. The CLF team will also be working on a holistic framework for comparative LCA modeling of building materials that includes biogenic carbon, dynamic LCA and carbon storage over the full life of a building.
As of the first week of April, 29 MEP firms have signed the Commitment, along with 20 additional organizations signalling their support, including architectural, construction, and structural engineering firms, and NGOs such as the AIA, Architecture 2030, and the Passive House Network. 98 people joined the first MEP 2040 Quarterly Forum on March 18 with their fellow MEP signatory firms and supporting organizations.
MEP 2040 signatories are publicly pledging their firms to decarbonize MEP systems, and commiting themselves and their firms to collective action, supported by transparent data, rigorous science, careful engineering, and thoughtful collaboration.
View recordings of presentations from the March Quarterly Forum on the CLF website, including:
- Introducing the Commitment – Kim Shinn
- Creating a Company Plan – Julie Janiski
- Refrigerants – Luke Leung & Kayleigh Houde
- Requesting EPDs – Kristy Walson
- MEP 2040 Working Groups
Please also share via social media the short Pitch for MEP 2040! created by members of the MEP 2040 Steering Committee.
The second Quarterly Forum will be held on Thursday, June 9. Please register in advance for this essential meeting. And tell all your MEP friends!
What if buildings could act like trees – capturing carbon, purifying the air, and regenerating the environment? Taking inspiration from natural processes and ecosystems, Urban Sequoia envisions “forests” of buildings that sequester carbon and produce biomaterials to create a new carbon economy and a resilient urban environment.
Urban Sequoia: A Concept for Buildings and Their Urban Context to Absorb Carbon at an Unprecedented Rate
At COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) unveiled Urban Sequoia – a concept for buildings and their urban context to absorb carbon at an unprecedented rate. SOM has developed the first step toward achieving this goal on a broad scale, with a prototype for a high-rise building that can be built today. Created by a global interdisciplinary team at SOM, with the advice of industry experts, the concept was presented by Kent Jackson, Partner, and Mina Hasman, Senior Associate Principal.
The central proposition of Urban Sequoia is that the built environment can absorb carbon. SOM’s proposal transforms buildings into solutions – radically rethinking how buildings and cities are designed and constructed. It is a viable solution that could have a far-reaching impact, with the potential to create a circular economy that absorbs carbon.
Editor’s Note: Milad is a PhD candidate at the Univeristy of Washington and as a Building and Materials Researcher is also the newest member of the Carbon Leadership Forum staff.
by Milad Ashtiani
In an era of rapid technological growth and civilization, while at the same time facing intercontinental challenges like climate change and global pandemics, the role of a sustainability activist and enthusiast (whether architect, engineer, scientist, artist, or policymaker) is more pronounced than ever was.
The concept of sustainable development has become the overarching framework of my career. My journey began with a materialistic viewpoint and later expanded towards humanitarianism and environmentalism as I realized the interconnectedness of issues haunting us. Coupled with my interests in infrastructure systems and how they are built, I study the application of life cycle assessment in evaluating, measuring, and managing the environmental impacts of construction materials in the form of embodied carbon and energy.
Wisconsin Girl Scouts First Made an Educational Video on Decarbonizing Concrete. Now They’ve Made a Music Video! How Cool Are They?
In the Spring of 2021, Girl Scout Troops 1477 and 1952 of the Wisconsin Badgerland Council decided they wanted to do a project to raise awareness about solutions to climate change. After looking into the biggest contributors to global warming, they were surprised to discover that embodied carbon of materials, especially concrete production, was a major factor. The Girl Scouts realized that among climate change topics, materials and concrete were less commonly discussed. So they made a 9-minute video to educate the building industry about the importance of decarbonizing concrete. Watch the original video.
In January, the girls hosted an online audience of over 80 Wisconsin policy makers, building designers, and material suppliers to make the case for prompt collective action. Now they’ve followed up their original video with an embodied carbon music video, complete with singing, dancing, and a cast of 21 talented Girl Scouts!