Renewable Materials To-Do List

Hi all!

I’m really excited to be joining David Arkin as the co-chair of this task force.

Renewable materials offer the most direct path to reduced embodied carbon emissions AND to potential carbon storage in our built environment. If you care about embodied carbon, this is where the action is!

Right off the top, I want to make sure that people coming to this task force know that renewable materials is about much more than timber. While I’m sure conversations about timber will happen here (and elsewhere on the ECN), our scope includes all biogenic materials… and there are plenty of options we’re excited to share and discuss.

The Renewable Materials task force set out “Three C’s” when it was formed:

We’re looking forward to starting some projects to build on this work in these areas. I will post each of these projects under its own heading here on the forum, but here’s a teaser outline for each:

1. Develop a renewable materials database. So many people want to know, what biogenic materials are available today? And where? And what’s coming down the pipeline? And how much of the material is available? So we’re going to get a database started and then let this community help us fill it out for all to use.

2. Methodology. Biogenic materials contain carbon that was pulled from the atmosphere, but how can we account for this in LCA? We would like to gather a team that will help us formulate appropriate methodologies for determining the storage values in agricultural and forestry residues, waste/recycling materials and purpose-grown biogenic materials.

3. Case Studies. We want to build a database of buildings that purport to have net carbon storage in order to promote the materials and strategies that have already been employed to make drawdown buildings.

4. Carbon Storing Building Challenge. We’d like to lay the groundwork for a North American carbon storing buildings competition. We envision various categories for completed projects, as well as a student design competition to encourage young designers to think carbon positive.

We also want to respond to other ideas that this community might generate, so please let us know if you have further ideas for the Renewable Materials group to tackle.



Hello Chris,

I would love to help with this effort. Please let me know what I can do!

Steph Mason

Hi Chris,

I am particularly keen on agricultural waste / by-product materials, in large part because the negative impacts of forestry can be avoided. Compressed straw board looks like a great option that doesn’t use adhesives, and presumably the process to bind lignin can be applied to other feedstock. Are you aware of any structural sections made this way, e.g., purlins?

In terms of the sequestered carbon I’m keen to look into this - in my opinion there needs to be a time value of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere, but what this inflation rate should be is a curly question!



1 Like

Hi Steph,
I’ll outline the projects in a bit more depth soon, and circle around to invite you to participate.
Thanks for your interest!

1 Like

Hi Will,
I’m really hoping that we can make a strong case for the use of existing ag residues in buildings so that timber isn’t the only option that’s ever put forward.
I’ll reach out as soon as we have a plan for moving the carbon storage methodology project forward.