February 2023

Governance and Action

by Kate Simonen, Founder and Executive Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

Last week a student asked me: “Do you think we will get to ‘zero carbon’ by 2050? If not, should we just give up, move on and live our lives?” Arguably we must meet these goals and technically we can. But will we? I’m motivated because every reduction matters. Success is not singular but rather achieved on a continuum and through collective action. How low can we go? How quickly can we get there? 

Although it might seem surprising given the challenges of politics, I see hope in the increasing development and implementation of policies focused on embodied carbon reductions. From executive orders to legislation, at the city, state, and federal scales, we see elected officials leading on the complex topic of embodied carbon. We see government staff working diligently to implement effective policy including the integration of public input. The process can be messy. The results are rarely exactly what any individual or organization would prefer. I believe that it is through this shared public engagement-learning and collaborating with those with different perspectives that we’ll implement meaningful and lasting change. 

Some embodied carbon policy highlights to share:

  • The Pacific Coast Collaborative Embodied Carbon Case Studies (see below)
  • The EPA is soliciting input on Inflation Reduction Act Programs to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Construction Materials and Products.  See RFI.
  • The New Jersey Low Embodied Carbon Concrete Leadership Act (LECCLA) was signed into law in January
  • We’re seeing movement and proposals to reduce embodied carbon in building code through Vancouver, BC, California, Oregon, and the City of Seattle, WA.

I’m proud that we at the Carbon Leadership Forum have joined the public discussions regarding how to develop and evaluate policies. I’m grateful to live in a democracy where we have the freedom and opportunity to impact important collective decisions. I encourage you to not be discouraged by the difficulty of the tasks ahead of us but diligent in our efforts to decarbonize buildings and infrastructure.

All the best,


New CLF Policy
Case Studies Published 

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CLF pubblica casi di studio collaborativi sulla politica del carbonio incorporata della costa del Pacifico

Il Carbon Leadership Forum ha pubblicato un nuovo rapporto che evidenzia dieci casi di studio di politiche che guidano la costruzione a basse emissioni di carbonio lungo la costa del Pacifico. Ogni caso esplora il processo di sviluppo, le sfide affrontate e le lezioni apprese attraverso il processo politico.

CLF gathered information for the report from memnbers of the Pacific Coast Collaborative, a region-wide collaboration of state, regional, and municipal governments. The Pacific Coast of North America represents the world’s fifth-largest economy, a thriving region of 55 million people with a combined GDP of $3 trillion. Through the Pacific Coast Collaborative, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and the cities of Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles are working together to build the low carbon economy of the future.

Read the full announcement!
Ciad Evans
Jordan Palmeri

Editor's Note: Chad Evans helps to manage budgets, keep projects on track, support HR needs, and optimize systems and processes so that we can all be doing our best work in the most efficient way possible. Chad has a varied professional background that includes sustainable energy financial management and consulting, project, program, and operations management, governance and compliance, and small business management. He is currently in Philadelphia after five months abroad, but Seattle has been home for most of his life.

by Chad Evans

I think back on what initially drew me to the field of sustainability and remember the five acres I grew up on outside of Poulsbo, WA. Except for the small footprint of our home and my mother’s garden it was mostly trees, and tall, old ones at that. During winter storms I would watch them sway in the wind, amazed at thinking how deep their roots must go and their astounding ability to bend and not break. I fell in love with those woods and as life progressed I found myself quietly celebrating environmental conservation in all its forms, asking myself why anyone would want to destroy our greatest gift on this planet. To me, nature – in all its forms – was something to be revered, celebrated, and preserved.

Somewhere along my way I developed a keen interest in renewable energy and found myself reading news blurbs on investments from the Department of Energy, passive housing design, advanced recycling systems, and really anything that had to do with creating a world that I knew could be possible. A world in which we live in harmony with nature, taking only what is needed, and reuse, reallocate, and recycle everything else. I would dive into articles on IFLI’s Living Building Challenge, the evolution of 3D-printed homes, and on the construction of Bosco Verticale in Milan. It was fascinating to me witnessing this shift in how we design and build structures. Parallel to the changing energy landscape, it seemed that the built environment was going through a time of reawakening and change, moving towards a place where the effects of materials sourcing, construction, and building life (and subsequent death) were considered with climate change in mind. Not only that, but these new creations were being undertaken by architects designing for appeal and practical use – buildings that benefitted the planet and pleased the eye.

Read Chad's full story
Carbon Commitment:
MEP Engineers

Time to Register for the March 2nd Quarterly Forum!

As of the first week of February, 62 MEP firms have signed the Commitment, along with 31 additional organizations signalling their support, including architectural, construction, and structural engineering firms, and NGOs such as the AIA, Architecture 2030, and the Passive House Network. 

MEP 2040 signatories are publicly pledging their firms to decarbonize MEP systems, and commiting themselves and their firms to collective action, supported by transparent data, rigorous science, careful engineering, and thoughtful collaboration.

View recording of the December Quarterly Forum on the MEP 2040 website.

The 5th Quarterly Forum will be held on Thursday, March 2nd at 8am PST. Please register in advance for this essential meeting

Register Here

The value of an EPD continues to grow in our industry, the thought of going out to get one can be daunting. Come hear from three manufacturers who have some completed an initial leg of this journey. Carrier, Trane Technologies and Ductsox will participate in a panel discussion in hopes to provide the beginnings of a roadmap for others to follow. This March quarterly forum will focus on perspective from these manufacturers on the following topics:

  • Why is embodied carbon data important for the future of their business?
  • Who are the key stakeholders within the organization to approach on this topic?
  • How do you introduce the topic of embodied carbon in your company?
  • Reflections/insights on the journey of obtaining an EPD


Learn More About MEP 2040

Nexii: Offsite Construction
and Rapid Assembly


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Prefabricated construction has historically been limited to low-to-mid-rise buildings. Nexii’s lighter weight, high-performance cladding panel can be applied to buildings of any height supported by an internal structure.

Nexii walls are estimated to have an average of 31% less embodied carbon than conventional construction, such as precast and tilt-up concrete equivalent designs. To get to 50%, Nexii is pursuing a suite of strategies including: zero emission manufacturing plants, innovative materials and panel designs, integration with mass timber, and design for reuse.

The Low Carbon Opportunity

by Zosia Brown and Sara Turner

Nexii Building Solutions is dedicated to sustainability across our operations and products. Our mission to build a vibrant future for people and planet catalyzes our goals to lower embodied carbon, improve energy efficiency, and achieve near-zero waste.

Nexii is a green construction company. We design, manufacture, and assemble green buildings and products that are sustainable, cost-effective, and climate resilient. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, Nexii currently operates plants in Squamish, B.C. and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and opened our first US plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania in early 2022. Nexii is scaling up to supply all North American markets with industrial, commercial retail, multi-story and residential buildings, as well as EV charging infrastructure.

Read the full story!
Carbon Avoided Retrofit Estimator (CARE)  

Architecture 2030 today announces the CARE Tool,
a valentine for building reuse.

Today's big news from Architecture 2030:

"Building reuse represents a significant opportunity to avoid carbon emissions in the critical near term, but until recently, quantifying the carbon 'savings' in a retrofit or reuse versus new construction has been arduous, often fraught with inaccuracy, and lacking in standardized methodology. Architecture 2030’s CARE (Carbon Avoided Retrofit Estimator) Tool has dramatically streamlined the process, enabling owners, communities, and design teams to quickly quantify the carbon benefits — and understand the value of reuse.

"Based on simple user inputs about energy targets and potential building interventions, the CARE Tool estimates both the #operationalcarbon emissions (from energy use in the building) and #embodiedcarbon emissions (tied to building materials) associated with reusing and upgrading an existing building or replacing it with new construction. The tool was developed by design experts Larry Strain of Siegel and Strain Architects, Lori Ferriss, AIA, PE of Goody Clancy, Erin McDade, Assoc. AIA of Architecture 2030."


Deep Dive on CARE

This month’s action checklist

Unisciti alla Community CLF online – focus groups, information, collaboration, research, resources, exploration, innovation.
Watch Andrew Himes' TEDx Talk: "Change Our Buildings, Save Our Planet" Buildings can be an existential solution to climate change -- not an existential threat.
MEP 2040 Challenge: A rapidly growing movement to decarbonize building systems. Sign the Commitment!

About the Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington

Chi siamo

  • 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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