September  2020

Motivation, Momentum, Impact
By Anthony Hickling, Managing Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

I joined the Carbon Leadership Forum because I believe that reducing (and ultimately eliminating) embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure is one of the most effective ways to reverse climate change. In my first month working at this organization, it has become clear that I am not alone in this belief. Thanks to you, our growing community of members, hubs, sponsors and donors, there is strong motivation and momentum to rapidly address this problem. We are positioned to make a significant impact, fast.

Growing energy to reduce embodied carbon has been clear through myriad anecdotal interactions, as well as the data we can track at CLF. As you’ll see in the By the Numbers section of this newsletter, thousands of industry industry professionals are coming to CLF to learn about Life Cycle Assessment strategies, embodied carbon benchmarks, the time value of carbon and much more. Your engagement continues to grow and so does our list of resources and new initiatives.

In the coming months we’re growing our team to improve the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator, support Buy Clean Policy initiatives, drive the employment of biogenic materials, and much more. We are even moving beyond reduction strategies to reimagine buildings as net absorbers of atmospheric carbon. Imagine a world where we can grow buildings from agricultural byproducts and other natural materials!

Our mission is a massive undertaking and one that requires collective action across all sectors. And despite the enormity of this project, I am inspired by your overwhelming support. Thanks to you, the Carbon Leadership Forum is the go-to thought leader and mobilizer for reducing embodied carbon. We are perfectly positioned to make a dramatic impact, and I thank you for helping build and rapidly expand this movement.


EC Benchmark Study  
Until CLF released this study in 2016, it was hard for building designers to know where to start. Stefanie Barrera
Architectural Staff at SMR Architects, Seattle, WA

Origin Story: The Embodied Carbon Benchmark Study

by Stefanie Barrera

The College of Built Environments at the University of Washington offers all 3+year M. Arch students a paid internship at different local firms after completing the first year of the program. As a student in this program, I was matched in the summer of 2016 with the Carbon Leadership Forum at the UW Integrated Design Lab.

At the Carbon Leadership Forum in 2016, I worked alongside Professor Kate Simonen and Ph.D. student Barbara Rodriguez Droguett on the Embodied Carbon Benchmark Project, which sought to develop a database of existing building embodied carbon studies to discover trends and establish better ways to reduce uncertainties in data collection.

The project was part of the Carbon Leadership Forum’s overarching goal to supporting tracking and reduction of ‘embodied’ carbon. In the past, the building industry has focused on reducing carbon emissions by increasing energy efficiency of operating buildings. Although this means buildings produce less operational carbon, tracking and reducing embodied carbon emissions has not been a priority.

Read More


By the Numbers  
Embodied Carbon Downloads
Resources for education and action. The CLF has been tracking downloads of key publications from its website since 2017. In total, CLF publications have been downloaded almost 24,000 times. The top 10 most popular downloaded files are shown in the chart above.
Member Impact  

Mark Chen 
Senior Sustainability Engineer, Skanska USA Building Inc.

Barbara Rodriguez Droguett
Académica FAU, Universidad de Chile


Gerald Wilson 
President and CEO, Autonomic Materials, the Self-Healing Co.

Alana Guzzetta
National Research Laboratory Manager at US Concrete

Find out what steps our members are doing to address embodied carbon
Learn More
A Greener Mix  

New York Times
Concrete, a Centuries-Old Material, Gets a New Recipe

by Jane Margolies

On any given day, Central Concrete, in San Jose, Calif., does what concrete companies have been doing for centuries: combining sand, gravel, water and cement to create the slurry that is used in construction.

But Central — one of a handful of companies at the forefront of a movement to make a greener concrete — is increasingly experimenting with some decidedly new mixtures.

In one part of the plant, carbon dioxide from a chemical gas company is injected into the concrete, locking in that greenhouse gas and keeping it out of the atmosphere, where it would contribute to global warming. Elsewhere, engineers tinker with the recipe for concrete, trying out substitutes for some of the cement, which makes up about 15 percent of the mix and functions as the glue that holds it all together.

Learn More

This month’s action checklist

Join the online CLF Community – focus groups, regional hubs, information, collaboration, research, resources, exploration, innovation.
International Living Future Institute: Zero Carbon Conference, Online October 7-8 – Scaling our decarbonized future.
Check out Carbon Leadership Forum News with comprehensive coverage of the movement to reduce embodied carbon.

About the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington

Who We Are

  • The Carbon Leadership Forum accelerates transformation of the building sector to radically reduce the embodied carbon in building materials and construction.
  • We pioneer research, create resources, foster cross-sector collaboration, and incubate member-led initiatives to bring embodied carbon emissions of buildings down to zero.
  • We are architects, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, building owners, and policymakers who care about the future and take bold steps to eliminate embodied carbon from buildings and infrastructure.


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