Member Impact – June 2023

Cosa state facendo tu e la tua azienda per ridurre le emissioni di carbonio incarnate?

Christopher G. Williams

Vice President, Thornton Tomasetti

I have been a practicing structural engineer now for nearly two decades. In 2018, I attended the Mass Timber Conference in Portland, Oregon out of a specific interest to further develop my expertise in timber construction. Our Portland, Maine Structures group had already been designing with light-framed timber as a material for years, but we saw the potential for mass timber construction as another structural solution for buildings. I came away from the conference incredibly captivated by mass timber construction, its biophilic benefits as an exposed material, its inherent fire-resistance capabilities, and its lower emissions compared to other building materials.

After this conference was over, a team of myself and a few other individuals began dedicating more time to mass timber research, with the goal implementing timber into more projects. We quickly began partnering with our Sustainability practice to gain a better understanding of timber’s role in reducing embodied carbon in building structures.

I’m happy to say that Thornton Tomasetti, having since designed the tallest timber structures in the world, is an industry leader in mass timber design and construction for buildings. Our Structural Engineering and Sustainability practices work hand-in-hand to find low EC solutions for our clients, and many of these include bringing mass timber forward as a structural solution. As a forward-thinking organization, we are continuing to investigate the potentials for biogenic carbon storage with timber construction, and how these factors are connected to sustainable forestry, adaptive reuse of buildings and structural rehabilitation.

What is the future of mass timber? Watch our video series to find out.

Christopher Williams

Thornton Tomasetti Structural Engineering and Sustainability practices work hand-in-hand to find low EC solutions for our clients, and many of these include bringing mass timber forward as a structural solution.”

Cosa state facendo tu e la tua azienda per ridurre le emissioni di carbonio incarnate?

Brie McCarthy

Architectural Staff and Embodied Carbon Specialist,The Miller Hull Partnership, LLP

Growing up in Southern California, I spent very little time indoors. I remember most days were spent in the garden with my parents, at the beach, or in some kind of after-school sports league. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of a luxury it was to never plan for extreme weather events – that was until my high school shut down several times due to hazardous levels of wildfire smoke. I’ll never forget that ominous orange sky and heavy ash raining down on our roof, wondering when our little canyon would catch fire next… eventually it did. While I was in grad school at Cal Poly Pomona, California experienced one of the worst droughts in its history. Water conservation and fire prevention measures were frantic through most of my early adulthood, and I remember this impending fear that this was the new normal. During my thesis year, I started doing a lot of research on resilient water infrastructure, specifically within the L.A. basin. I couldn’t fathom how a city importing 86% of its fresh water lacked sustainable stormwater management. During this research, I became fascinated by a book called “Ecology and the Architectural Imagination” by Brook Muller, a professor at the University of Oregon, that referred to architecture as a prosthetic extension of the natural world. This concept of the built environment having a symbiotic relationship with natural systems is what kicked off my love for sustainability – from there, I kept looking for ways that architecture could become part of the larger climate solution.

I landed at Miller Hull in Seattle as a sustainability intern around the time embodied carbon was entering mainstream dialogue. I was assigned several research projects, one of which involved learning a newly released Life Cycle Assessment software that the firm was hoping to integrate into their design process. I never thought I would understand supply chains and product manufacturing so intimately until I had to dissect my first few WBLCA reports and supporting EPDs. Since those early days, Miller Hull has continually dedicated resources to pushing embodied carbon research forward: staff time, software tools, industry partnerships, speaking opportunities, etc. What started as a simple research effort has led to a commitment called Emission Zero, which holds our firm financially responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions incurred by the buildings we design. This initiative pushes us to not only design low carbon buildings, but educate and advocate for them on a larger community scale.    

It’s incredible to see the AEC industry shift and adapt to the urgency of climate change in real time. I have been in this industry for 6 years now, and in that short time I’ve seen an incredible transformation; companies have developed software tools, databases, building products and entire career paths around embodied carbon. Organizations like CLF have allowed stakeholders from all sides of the industry to come together and share their knowledge, understanding that collective action is the key to success. I am excited to see what the industry will accomplish in the next 6 years and am so happy to be part of the CLF community!

Brie McCarthy

I never thought I would understand supply chains and product manufacturing so intimately until I had to dissect my first few WBLCA reports and supporting EPDs. Since those early days, Miller Hull has continually dedicated resources to pushing embodied carbon research forward: staff time, software tools, industry partnerships, speaking opportunities, etc.

Cosa state facendo tu e la tua azienda per ridurre le emissioni di carbonio incarnate?

Robert Forster

Senior Project Manager, Langan Engineering

I trace my passion for sustainability to my days in the Boy Scouts, when I was lucky to be in an active troop that spent a lot of time outdoors. This experience taught me to admire and appreciate nature and instilled in me the principle of “Leave No Trace.” This is the practice of minimizing your impact on the environment — a helpful guidepost for any sustainability professional.

Years later, as an undergraduate civil engineering student, I came across the book Cradle to Cradle which completely changed my perspective on the world. I began seeing the environmental issues we face as defined design challenges instead of hopeless catastrophes. In that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life – help design a sustainable future.

During my graduate studies, I became particularly interested in embodied carbon. I was shocked that what appeared to be “simple” material selection greatly impacted a building’s footprint. This is how my professional journey to help reduce the built environment’s impact began. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with esteemed sustainability consultants that have helped further my knowledge about embodied carbon, gaining experience in the field by conducting LCAs, writing EPDs, calculating building footprints, and conducting outreach and education on the topic. This knowledge has proven invaluable in my current role as a Senior Project Manager at Langan, where I help clients understand and reduce the embodied carbon of their building projects.

Langan is a premier global site/civil, geotechnical, and environmental engineering firm. With over 100 LEED Accredited Professionals and ENVISION Sustainability Professionals on staff, we provide clients with the technical expertise necessary to develop their sustainable sites. One of our major focus areas is subsurface, or foundation embodied carbon. As geotechnical engineers, we can influence the embodied carbon in a building foundation by making deliberate design decisions. For example, we design with material efficiency in mind, working to reduce overall material consumption and advocate for using low-carbon and sustainable materials. Outside of our project work, we also collaborate with industry stakeholders to promote awareness and best practices related to embodied carbon reduction.

Together, we can create a future built on the principles of sustainability where both individuals and organizations can thrive. Join us in our mission to create a livable future for all.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax”

Robert Forster

“Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with esteemed sustainability consultants that have helped further my knowledge about embodied carbon, gaining experience in the field by conducting LCAs, writing EPDs, calculating building footprints, and conducting outreach and education on the topic.”

Cosa state facendo tu e la tua azienda per ridurre le emissioni di carbonio incarnate?

Johanna Jarvinen 

Regional Business Development Manager, One Click LCA

When I started working as an Environmental Consultant in mid-2000 neither Sustainability nor Embodied Carbon were at the forefront of the construction sector. Quite often the roles were related to external impacts to environment like contamination to land or water or implementing management standards like ISO 14001 which were my first roles in the sector too. 

In the UK the shift to a low carbon approach came from building regulations. In 2006 the national building regulations Part L brought a new focus to operational carbon via limiting U-values and Energy consumption ratings, and this was soon reinforced by Greater London Authority (GLA) introducing stronger operational energy reduction targets.

The momentum continued with voluntary measures such as the Code for Sustainable Homes (launched in 2006) and BREEAM introducing material usage credits as well as including requirements for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). These standards were also enforced by several Planning Authorities, cities & boroughs, in England and Wales. 

Since then, the UK has come long way. 

The focus on embodied carbon calculations and the need for calculation tools has grown substantially since I joined One Click LCA  2018 to develop business in UK. This growth was initially driven by the BREEAM Standard, but the focus has since shifted, mainly due the 2019 amendment to the national Climate Change Act which stipulates that UK will need to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Progress has also been driven by cities like London introducing planning requirements that mandate Whole Life Carbon Assessments and circularity calculations. London is not alone either, the City of Bristol in the west of England has recently implemented similar planning requirements and Manchester in the north is on the same path. 

Here at One Click LCA we are proud to have helped the market and cities on this journey. Not only do we provide a robust calculation platform, but we also provide the crucial benchmark data that enables regulators to set targets and guidance, not only in UK but worldwide. 

Our construction carbon dataset offering is the largest in the world. We hold all publicly available EPDs and other carbon datasets including all North America ones too. You can’t reduce something you cannot measure…now you can!

Johanna Jarvinen

Here at One Click LCA we are proud to have helped the market and cities on this journey. Not only do we provide a robust calculation platform, but we also provide the crucial benchmark data that enables regulators to set targets and guidance, not only in UK but worldwide.”

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