Nov 7, 2019

Climate Activists Maneuver To Reduce Embodied Carbon in Buildings – Engineering News-Record

There was no formal agenda on Feb. 12, 2018, when Bruce King and William Kelley met for lunch at the Lotus Cafe in San Rafael, Calif. But building regulation is a favorite topic of King’s, a structural engineer devoted to reducing carbon emissions related to buildings. So it was no surprise to Kelley, Marin County’s deputy director for building and safety, that King suggested it would “be nice” to craft a low-carbon concrete building code “to rein in the profligate overuse” of carbon-intensive cement in concrete.

Kelley liked the idea of regulating concrete’s embodied carbon (EC)—the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during production. But funding was needed to support the writing of a code for low-EC concrete.
Two weeks later, King happened to be at a meeting of an ad hoc group trying to rebuild sustainably after California’s devastating 2017 wine-country fires. There, he heard an announcement that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District would soon offer grants for novel methods of addressing GHGs. He alerted Kelley. Soon, Marin County applied for a BAAQMD grant, which it received on Oct. 4, 2018.
The funds, a maximum of $206,456, set the wheels in motion for developing the model Bay Area Low-Carbon Concrete Code. If approved by Marin County’s board of supervisors on Nov. 19, the code, unprecedented in the U.S. because it would limit EC in private—not just public—projects, would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Kelley likes the Bay Area model code because it is simple to use for customers, plan checkers and enforcers. The document, only four pages long, has two sets of compliance pathways for plain and reinforced concrete: 1) limit cement in either the mix or the project; or 2) limit the global warming potential (GWP) either of a concrete mix—based on an approved environmental product declaration (EPD)—or a project, taking into account all the mix designs.

If adopted, the code would apply only to unincorporated Marin County, population 60,000. That doesn’t bother King. “We hope it will be the code heard around the world,” says the founder of the 20-year-old Ecological Building Network (EBNet).

Read the full article

Latest News

Postdoctoral Scholar: LCA Modeling

Research Position Now Open Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) modeling of carbon-storing materials The Department of Architecture at the University of...

Introducing Allison Hyatt

Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum Allison Hyatt is a Researcher with the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington. With years of...

Introducing Megan Kalsman

Policy Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forumby Megan Kalsman I have always been drawn to and fascinated by cities. How we work, play, and move about...

Introducing Meghan Byrne

Engagement and Communications Lead, Carbon Leadership Forum Meghan Byrne works to support collaboration and communication across the CLF Community...

Introducing Milad Ashtiani

Building and Materials Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum, University of Washington Milad Ashtiani is a civil engineer and PhD candidate at the...

Decarbonizing Design Resource

By Melissa MorancyDirector, Sustainable Knowledge & Engagement, American Institute of Architects (AIA) In 2015, I worked with AIA’s Historic...

2022 Embodied Carbon Policy Action

by Meghan LewisSenior Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum 2021 was a busy year for embodied carbon policy, and 2022 looks to be filled with even...

Ground-breaking CLF Materials Report

October 27, 2021 Today the Carbon Leadership Forum released a ground-breaking report on the potential for meaningful climate impact through...

Introducing Brad Benke

Researcher, Carbon Leadership Forum, University of Washington Brad Benke, AIA, is a Research Scientist at the Carbon Leadership Forum focused on...

Act together to change the world

by Edward Mazria Architecture 2030 is calling on all architects, engineers, planners, and individuals involved in the building sector worldwide to...

Six Months into SE 2050

Structural Engineers Combine to Share Learning, Resources, and Ambitious Decarbonization Goals By Chris Jeseritz Chris Jeseritz is a project manager...

US Government targets Embodied Carbon

The Green Building Advisory Committee’s adoption of procurement principles will drive federal action on low government embodied carbon building...

Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront

The World Green Building Council’s pioneering report "Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront: Coordinated action for the building and construction sector...

Embodied Carbon in Construction

Published in Buildings & Cities in the Special Collection: "Carbon metrics for buildings and cities" Publication date: September 2020 Authors:...

Carbon Positive RESET!

There has never been a greater urgency for climate action. by Ed Mazria and Natasha BalwitArchitecture 2030 We are in a race to find solutions for...

en_USEnglish