Policy Resource:

Embodied Carbon Policy Educational Series

Policymakers are taking the lead from building industry practices, tools, and projects to begin implementing a variety of policies to reduce embodied carbon on government-funded and private sector projects. The CLF Regional Hubs are uniquely positioned to act as local knowledge leaders related to embodied carbon, providing technical guidance to climate policy organizations or agencies and identifying opportunities for new policies.

The Embodied Carbon Policy Educational Series is a resource designed to empower Carbon Leadership Forum Regional Hubs to play a role as local knowledge leaders related to embodied carbon policy opportunities and to inspire regional discussions on policy. The series was designed for the CLF Regional Hubs to use to host educational events around embodied carbon policy types. However, we expect that other audiences will also find this content helpful.

Goals of the educational series for CLF Regional Hubs

Goals of the series are to introduce core embodied carbon policy concepts and frameworks, explore case studies of existing policies, instigate conversations about the unique regional or local policy context for each Hub, such as:

  • Identifying local/regional policy opportunities for addressing embodied carbon.
  • Hearing from local/regional organizations and government agencies who are leading (or poised to lead) on developing and implementing embodied carbon policies.
  • Allowing for targeted education opportunities for local/regional groups.

The overall goal is to prepare CLF members to act as local knowledge leaders on embodied carbon policy.

Session 1: Introduction to the Embodied Carbon Policy Landscape

Policies targeting reduced embodied carbon are relatively new, and they come in many different forms that vary by the jurisdiction and goals of policymakers. Topics covered in this video are:

  • Why Embodied Carbon?
  • Overview of Types of Policies
  • Core Concepts
  • Growing Policy Landscape
  • Opportunities for Informing Policy Development (as a CLF Hub)

Session 2: Embodied Carbon & Climate Action Plans

City and regional climate action plans (CAPs) should include an assessment of embodied carbon, targets for reduction, and a timeline and strategies for meeting those targets. Including targets and strategies in climate action plans is a key foundation to developing further policies to reduce embodied carbon and maximizing opportunities for synergies with other climate strategies. Topics in this video include:

  • Climate Action Plans (CAPs)
  • Greenhouse Gas Inventories
  • Integrating Embodied Carbon into CAPs
  • Case Studies
  • Development Process and Stakeholders

Session 3: Embodied Carbon & Procurement Policies

Procurement policies (often referred to as ‘green procurement policies’ or in some cases ‘Buy Clean’) aim to leverage the purchasing power of public agencies to achieve environmental or social outcomes. In the case of embodied carbon, the goal of procurement policies is often to help create a market for lower-carbon options in the broader construction materials market while aligning public purchasing with existing social and environmental goals. This session explores:

  • Why Procurement
  • Key Components
  • Scope
  • Disclosure
  • Limits
  • Incentives
  • Compliance
  • Case Studies
  • Development Process and Stakeholders

Session 4: Embodied Carbon & Building Codes

Over the past few decades, advancements in building energy codes—and in the underlying research on reducing operational energy consumption and related GHG emissions—have stimulated changes in building design and operation. In contrast, embodied carbon has been largely excluded from building codes until the last few years. Amendments to the code may establish prescriptive or performance-based paths to reducing embodied carbon of specific construction materials or whole buildings. This session explores:

  • Building Codes
  • Materials: Code Pathways and Case Studies
  • Buildings: Code Pathways

Session 5: Embodied Carbon & Zoning and City Incentive Programs

Zoning and land use policies can narrow the range of emissions early on with long-term impact. It is a key time to influence designers, and it provides different advantages than codes in the scope of a policy. Decisions made in these phases have very high potential impact, starting from choosing the land to zone and to build on, moving to determining constraints for density, massing and height. Cities in particular are in a great position to implement regulations that are in line with local capabilities and available solutions, along with purchasing power, more closely than on the national scale. This session explores:

  • City Zoning  and Incentive Programs
  • Integrating Embodied Carbon
  • Case Studies

Session 6: Embodied Carbon & Reuse and Deconstruction

Extending the life of a material or building avoids extraction and manufacturing emissions from creating a new one and saving embodied carbon. Reuse and deconstruction has many co-benefits such as creating jobs and adding new regional markets for the removal, sale, and distribution of salvaged materials. There are multiple ways policy can move the needle of reuse and deconstruction. This session explores:

  • Reuse & Embodied Carbon
  • Policy Opportunities
  • Case Studies
  • Development Process and Stakeholders

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Question

Answer

What is the Embodied Carbon Policy Educational Series? An educational series designed to empower CLF Regional Hubs to play a role as local knowledge leaders related to embodied carbon policy opportunities and to inspire regional discussions on policy.
Who is this Educational Series for? The series was designed for the CLF Regional Hubs to use to host educational events around embodied carbon policy types. However, the CLF expects that other audiences will also find this content helpful.
What are the goals of the Embodied Carbon Policy Educational Series?
  • Introduce core embodied carbon policy concepts and frameworks. 
  • Introduce case studies of existing policies.
  • Instigate conversations about the unique regional or local policy context for each Hub, such as:
    • Identifying local/regional policy opportunities for addressing embodied carbon.
    • Hearing from local/regional organizations and government agencies who are leading (or poised to lead) on developing and implementing embodied carbon policies.
    • Allowing for targeted education opportunities for local/regional groups.
  • Prepare CLF members to act as local knowledge leaders on embodied carbon policy.
What resources has the CLF provided as part of this series?

The training series consist of six interactive sessions, each with:

  • Introductory video recording
  • Accompanying slide deck
  • Discussion activity guide
  • Speaker suggestions (Note: Please reach out directly to the CLF team for names and emails for individuals to protect the privacy of speakers.)
Do we have to use the introductory video recordings from the CLF?

Not at all! Feel free to use the slide decks to present and add content like regional case studies and examples as needed. There are often additional slides skipped at the end of the deck which you can use for a more in depth presentation.

Another option is to provide links to the introductory videos before the session for attendees to watch on their own time and come in prepared for discussion and live speaker Q&A/other panels.

When will live versions of this series be hosted? 

CLF Regional Hubs can choose when (and which) sessions to host based on their own schedules, meeting cadence and priorities. See Hub Training Central Session Outline for example event schedules.

The UW CLF team does not currently have plans to host a central version of these sessions. However, we are available to answer questions related to hosting.

Are the Educational Series events grassroots lobbying events for Hubs? No, the Educational Series is for informational purposes only. Regional Hubs are uniquely positioned to act as local knowledge leaders related to embodied carbon, providing education and technical guidance to climate policy organizations or agencies and identifying opportunities for new policies.
Should we host the session in person or online? That is up to you! We have provided a mix of formats for the discussion activities, including some Miro boards to facilitate online discussion. These are better adapted to table activities for in-person audiences. Otherwise, we hope this content is equally helpful in both virtual and in-person format.
Should we record the session?

For virtual events, we do recommend recording the new panels and speakers to continue expanding the educational resources available related to embodied carbon and policy. 

If your Hub does not have your own YouTube channel, the CLF team would be happy to share your recording on our CLF Youtube Channel.

If holding in person events and recording equipment is available, that’s great. If not, that’s also perfectly fine!

We do not recommend recording discussion activities, as this may limit participation depending on audience comfort.

What happens after we have hosted a session? The UW CLF team would sincerely appreciate any feedback on how your event went, what you think about this format for sharing event resources, and suggestions for future topics to cover.
Can these sessions be used for AIA, USGBC, or other continuing education credits?

This content has not been pre-approved for continuing education credits at this time, but we are happy for others to apply for CEUs using some or all of the content provided in these series.

In the future the CLF may apply for these sessions to be approved as on-demand learning sessions from the AIA and will provide additional information (e.g. quizzes, learning objectives) at that time. 

If you’d like more information about applying for these or other sessions to be available for AIA Continuing Education Credits, see this and other resources from the AIA.

Is there funding available for Hubs to host the sessions? Not at the moment. As a program at the University of Washington there is currently not a clear structure to distribute funds to Hubs. This is something we hope to resolve in the future. 
Who should I contact if I have specific questions about speakers to invite? Email Megan Kalsman

Embodied Carbon Policy Resources

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