News You Can Use

News You Can Use is a timely digest of webinars, events, recent news, research, resources, and discussion from across the building industry focused on driving the radical reduction of building construction and materials.

Written and updated by @martintorres

Recent News, Research, Resources, and Discussion

Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) news and media coverage.

Local Hubs

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CLF MEP 2040 Challenge

“All systems engineers shall advocate for and achieve net zero carbon in their projects: #operationalcarbon by 2030 and #embodiedcarbon by 2040.”

Will your firm be on the leading edge of change and sign the Commitment?

  • Establish a company plan to reduce carbon across #MEP systems, target zero by 2040.
  • Request low-GWP refrigerant availability.
  • Request Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
  • Participate in a quarterly MEP 2040 Forum and discussion group.

The Pursuit and Promise of Equity in Architecture

“R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMAC, was privy to the challenges of being Black in architecture. His father was an architect, and Lewis himself grew up during the Civil Rights era. He heard no shortage of stories about obstacles—but also some about success. More than 40 years of practice later, he has seen excitement for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) emerge and fade every 10 years or so. The past 18 months have been no exception. The murder of #georgefloyd and extreme health inequities exposed by the pandemic have been coupled with ongoing civil unrest and calls to action by citizens and corporations. Lewis, a Los Angeles–based principal at ZGF Architects, says his life experience ‘has allowed me to meet this moment … with a lot of energy, hopefulness—and caution.’” [National Organization of Minority Architects]

( Anjulie Rao Donald I King, FAIA/NOMA

Lifecycle GHG Impacts in Building Codes, New Buildings Institute (NBI)

“NBI’s report presents language to incorporate #embodiedcarbon requirements in building codes. Researchers explain the need to address the embodied carbon of the highest emitting materials and the #carbonemissions benefits for jurisdictions. This report works to address the current lack of understanding of what a regulation on embodied carbon would look like in a U.S. base code. The code acknowledges the importance of building materials in the construction industry and aims to achieve practical reductions in climate impact by encouraging lower embodied carbon materials. Example code language can be adopted by jurisdictions starting with product EPD reporting, to target #gwp limits for specific materials, and finally moving to a whole life carbon approach with whole building #lifecycleassessment.”

Many thank for this valuable report to authors Webly Bowles, Kim Chesiak, Jim Edelson, plus contributors Bruce King, Anish Tilak, Meghan Lewis (senior researcher at Carbon Leadership Forum).

CarbonPositive: Keep Faith with Ukraine and…Keep Your Eye on the Prize

In the wake of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, global leaders should accelerate renewable energy technologies for both ecological and political stability, writes Architecture 2030 founder Edward Mazria in ARCHITECT Magazine.

“Following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the world must face the harsh reality of #climatechange, energy, and national security, in part due to Russia’s dominance over oil and gas exports. These intertwined crises, however, provide an unprecedented opportunity to reduce global consumption and accelerate #renewablenergy technologies for both ecological and political stability.”

Andrew Himes at TEDxSeattle: Change our buildings, save our planet

Andrew Himes’ 2021 TEDxSeattle talk is an impassioned plea for buildings that help solve #climatechange instead of contributing to it. With a sense of hope, Andrew asserts that working together to solve the climate crisis gives us the opportunity to “regain a sense of our shared humanity.” As Andrew explains, the #materials used in #construction , the movement of those materials, and the current massive boom in #buildingconstruction combine to make the buildings in which we live and work one of the leading causes of #carbonemissions. The good news is that we already know how to create buildings that #storecarbon and help heal the planet. We can #reuse and improve buildings instead of tearing down or using new materials, and we can all demand that the buildings in our community are built to protect us instead of harm us. #embodiedcarbon

*3:52 How buildings contribute to climate change; *8:50 How to design and build smarter, healthier buildings; *10:50 living concrete

Ontario’s first benchmarking of self-reported embodied carbon results for large buildings

Working with one design team on this project has already led them to make three material substitutions (lower carbon concrete, lower impact XPS insulation, and lower impact concrete sealer) leading to a 26% drop in embodied carbon and nearly 800 tonnes of CO2e avoided! Multiply those easy changes across the province and you get a sense of the scale of reductions that are easily achievable through embodied carbon management.

See more results here: 2022.02.Toronto Part 3 Building Embodied Carbon Benchmarking Public Slides.pdf - Google Drive

#zerocarbon #climateaction

DOE Announces $45 Million in Carbon Storage Technologies for Building Materials

"With carbon-storing #buildingmaterials often being scarce, expensive, and geographically limited, DOE is pioneering technologies that overcome these barriers to lower or eliminate emissions associated with their production. This will also increase the total amount of carbon stored in buildings to make them net #carbonnegative and contribute to President Biden’s goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

“Building materials and #construction techniques offer huge promise as carbon sinks,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “As it has done in so many other sectors of our economy, DOE’s ARPA-E is going to try to change the game yet again.”


Deconstruct, Do Not Demolish: The Practice of Reuse of Materials in Architecture

“Considering a context in which approximately 2/3 of the existing buildings area today will continue to exist by 2040, adding to the fact that the reforms have shown to be the specialty of the architects of the future, the model of processing of constructed spaces should not be a matter to be ignored. It is necessary to review the form of acting in the constructive sector as a whole and convert the linear use of materials to a circular model: it is necessary to stop demolishing and begin to disassemble.”