by Anthony Hickling, Managing Director, Carbon Leadership Forum
At the CLF we’re working to fill the crucial gaps needed to decarbonize buildings and infrastructure. This includes developing the data and tools needed by industry professionals, informing policymakers, and building the foundation for an industry-wide collective impact initiative to drive collaboration, learning, and common action.
This month we can report significant progress across each of our strategies. CLF staff are working with the C40 Clean Construction Programme to develop an Embodied Carbon Policy Reduction Calculator for use in cities around the globe. Additionally, we’ve created an Embodied Carbon Reduction Checklist for city projects. And we are announcing a multi-year project to develop a database of whole building LCA models that can inform future low-carbon designs and policymaking.
Finally, we are publishing a report and analysis of the first 30 months of the CLF Seattle Regional Hub. Seattle Hub co-leaders Kjell Anderson and Alex Ianchenko have provided remarkable vision, persistence, and wisdom in facilitating this remarkable story. We admire their leadership and the work of nearly 30 other CLF Hubs of building industry professionals working together to reduce embodied carbon around the world.
A growing number of cities are committed to tackling the urgent challenge of their built environment carbon footprint through their policies and programs. 110 cities took the Cities Race to Zero Clean Construction pledges to reduce embodied emissions in their policies and programmes in 2021, and 40 leading cities are participating in the C40 Clean Construction Programme and mayors are setting the direction of travel by signing the Clean Construction Declaration, which requires collective action to halve embodied emissions by 2030.
However, embodied carbon is a new policy area for many cities and the lack of city-level data on embodied carbon is a significant barrier for policymakers to gain political support and make informed decisions. The goal of developing an embodied carbon policy reduction calculator is to address these challenges.
Design and construction teams have a growing number of strategies and tools to choose from to reduce embodied carbon on their projects.
By identifying strategies the team intends to pursue at the beginning (Schematic Design) and end (As-Built) of a project, the checklist also provides a tool for identifying challenges, why goals had to change throughout the project, and opportunities for improvement on future projects.
In 2017, the CLF published the Embodied Carbon Benchmark Study for North American buildings. Since then, WBLCA has grown rapidly in the AEC industry, and it has become clear that more robust and reliable benchmarks are critical for advancing work in this field. This new CLF WBLCA Benchmark Study (Version 2) will build upon research and insights from the 2017 study. The project will expand our research methodology and result in geographically- and typologically-specific benchmarks for buildings, systems, and assemblies modeled with consistent scope and background data. This will allow designers and decision-makers to set reliable embodied carbon targets and understand the potential for reduction throughout the design and construction processes.
Editor’s Note: Meghan is a recent addition to the Carbon Leadership Forum staff, focused on activating and energizing the CLF Community through outreach and engagement.
by Meghan Byrne
After graduating from Franklin & Marshall College with a joint degree in Environmental Studies and Public Policy I began the Masters of Environmental Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Policy. During my time at Penn, some of my most valuable experiences came from working with and learning from local communities.
My research at Penn explored the intersection of lead exposure, gentrification, and environmental justice. Through this, I was fortunate enough to work with communities, students, and organizations that taught me about the realities of environmental racism and the failures of policies meant to protect the health of communities and their environment.
In October, 2019, 60 people packed a meeting room at LMN Architects in downtown Seattle for the first meeting of a new Regional Hub for CLF members in Washington State. The meeting had been organized with an email sent out to a short list of people who forwarded the invitation to others. The sense of energy and excitement in the room was palpable. Attendees included architects, engineers, and contractors, government employees, non-profit representatives and developers, and this was the first time they had assembled as a community. Their purpose, summed up by LMN’s Kjell Anderson who organized and led that first meeting, was to accelerate learning and action to reduce embodied carbon across the building industry in the Pacific Northwest.
Two and a half years into this vibrant experiment in self-organizing for impact, we’ve asked Hub leader Kjell Anderson and his co-leader Alex Ianchenko to relate the story of the Seattle Hub. How did they organize and facilitate the Hub? What tools and resources did they rely on to ensure lively discussions and collaborative transformation? What did they learned about what worked – and what they found challenging – in building a grassroots network of industry professionals?
MEP 2040 signatories are publicly pledging their firms to decarbonize MEP systems, and committing themselves and their firms to collective action, supported by transparent data, rigorous science, careful engineering, and thoughtful collaboration.
As of the first week of May, 37 MEP firms have now signed the Commitment, along with 21 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.
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
- (https://network.carbonleadershipforum.org/sites/default/files/box.png) Join the online CLF Community – focus groups, information, collaboration, research, resources, exploration, innovation.
- (https://network.carbonleadershipforum.org/sites/default/files/box.png) Watch Andrew Himes’ TEDx Talk: “Change Our Buildings, Save Our Planet” Buildings can be an existential solution to climate change – not an existential threat.
- (https://network.carbonleadershipforum.org/sites/default/files/box.png) MEP 2040 Challenge: A rapidly growing movement to decarbonize building systems. Sign the Commitment!