by Anthony Hickling, Managing Director, Carbon Leadership Forum
Happy new year! Like many of you, I imagine, we’re kicking off 2022 with busy plates and exciting work that we plan to share with you soon.
The holidays have given us some time to reset. And between all of the baked goods, time with family, and cozier weather, some time away from the computer also might have also given you the opportunity to really think.
For me, that meant goal-setting and nerding out over our objectives and key results for the CLF. And even though we’ve already gotten started with a busy year, we’re making time to step back and identify clear goals that we plan to accomplish in 2022.
Across our programs, we plan to:
- Increase embodied carbon awareness and leadership among all professionals
- Help practitioners maker meaningful embodied carbon reductions informed by robust tools and data
- Inform local, state, federal and corporate policies towards 50% reductions in embodied carbon by 2030.
As we start this next year together, we’re excited to work with you as leaders at your organizations, volunteers, or even future employees of the Carbon Leadership Forum to accomplish our collective mission to eliminate embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure to enable a just and thriving future.
Wishing you an enjoyable and impactful 2022.
Professor, Penn State
Director, Global Building Network
Associate at Quinn Evans, Co-Chair of Zero Net Carbon Collaboration
TLC Engineering Solutions
Executive Director of IMPEL+
at Berkeley Lab
Find out what our members are doing to address embodied carbon Learn More
WSP’s commitment to reducing embodied carbon in the built environment means supporting a client’s requests for high-performance projects. A recently completed project at La Guardia Airport resulted in a 16 percent reduction in embodied carbon after revisiting the structural design. “WSP’s specialty teams focused on climate, resilience and sustainability have been helping clients measure and reduce life cycle carbon emissions for more than two decades. We conduct rigorous analyses for clients to quantify the embodied carbon and other environmental impacts of their projects and buildings— from data centers and commercial buildings, to transportation infrastructure and multi-family housing.”
by Teresa Vangeli (director of structures and sustainability at WSP USA) and Sarah Buffaloe (associate for built ecology at WSP USA)
As employees of WSP USA — one of the world’s leading engineering and professional services consultancies — and supporters of the Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF), we are excited about the growing interest we’re seeing across our company and our profession to reduce and eliminate the carbon embodied in buildings and infrastructure.
Of course, we have a long way to go to make reducing embodied carbon a priority that ranks along with safety, function, resilience, aesthetics and other core principles of design and engineering. And we have even further to go to realize the vision of expanding the use of mass timber, plant-based materials, earthen slabs and other innovative strategies to reverse the climate profile of buildings and make them carbon positive.
In October, CLF announced the MEP 2040 Challenge, a new initiative from CLF to galvanize efforts to decarbonize building systems across the MEP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) industry": As of January, 22 MEP firms have now committed to drive down the embodied and operational carbon footprint of MEP systems they specify and procure, and an additional 18 firms and organizations have signalled their support for the initiative.
By adopting the Commitment, each firm is confirming that it will:
- Establish a company plan to reduce operational and embodied carbon across MEP systems on all projects, targeting zero by 2040. Measure and report progress against that plan annually.
- Request low-GWP refrigerant availability when designing systems to reduce or eliminate GHG emissions from refrigerants.
- Request Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in project specifications for MEP system components.
- Participate in a quarterly MEP 2040 Forum and a CLF Community discussion group to share lessons learned and contribute to a growing body of knowledge.
The Commitment requires specific plans from building designers to reduce the carbon footprinbt of their projects. With a continually shortening timeline and increasing necessity to cut emissions, it is critical to understand where there is opportunity to minimize the impacts of MEP systems. Achieving zero carbon requires gaining knowledge, then catalyzing change in our industry.
Engaged, Collaborative, Inventive, Resourceful: An Online Embodied Carbon Community Poised for Impact in 2022
The past year saw rapid growth and intensified involvement on the CLF Community. The number of CLF members logging in, posting topics for discussion or commenting on posts by others, and helping to create a passionate learning community soared by over 50% to a total of almost 3,000 by the end of 2021.
- David Ness’ suggestion that sufficiency should take priority over efficiency and renewables.
- Mike Kovac’s question asking if forum members have anything to say about the challenge of developing specification clauses to require EPDs for building projects.
- Fred Berstein’s critique of HouseZero, a project of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and its claim to reduce both operational and embodied carbon emissions
- Jordan Palmeri’s notice after COP 26 of a recent press release from Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) 35 leaders attending COP26 in Glasgow where they announced the launch of a Low Carbon Construction Task Force between California, Oregon, Washington, the province of British Columbia and the cities of Vancouver, BC, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
- Lloyd Rubidge’s provovcative question about the CO2 impact of mass timber and whether properly harvested timber can truly be carbon negative.
Is your voice missing from the conversation? It takes a movement to spark and engineer the structural, market, and cultural transformation required to meet our carbon challenge, and your participation is required.
The Policy Researcher will be responsible for the execution of research and analysis, development of guidance documents and educational resources, and stakeholder education and outreach to inform the development and implementation of cross-sectoral climate policies that target embodied carbon. This position will report to the Senior Policy Researcher and be a part of the CLF’s core research team.
Closing date for applications: January 20
The Engagement and Communications Lead will host and facilitate the online CLF Community, support continuous communication across the CLF, and look for opportunities to promote inclusive and equitable engagement, partnership, and collaboration among CLF members across the building industry. This role will support the growth of the CLF’s network of Regional Hubs in cities globally, nurturing regional leadership and increased engagement of CLF members and partner companies and organizations.
The Building and Materials Researcher will be responsible for the execution of research and analysis, development of guidance documents and educational resources, and outreach across the design community to improve the quality, accuracy, and effectiveness of building performance tools, methods and data that address embodied carbon. The Buildings and Material Researcher will work collaboratively in an integrated team with backgrounds in architecture, engineering, environmental policy, and materials manufacturing.