Nov 26, 2020

Motivating Low-Carbon Construction

Proposing a road map for action/impact

This paper by Kate Simonen, published in 2011, was the first comprehensive strategy proposed for the radical reduction of embodied carbon in built environments.

The Challenge

In order to motivate, evaluate and reduce carbon impact of the built environment we must:

  • Create a demand for the data‐motivate users to ask for it.
  • Provide mechanism for data collection and dissemination‐enable manufactures to provide it.
  • Develop ‘product category rules’ (pcr’s)‐ensuring results that are fair, complete and effective.
  • Develop ambitious yet realistic targets‐motivate and reward industry innovation.

The Strategy

  1. First motivate environmental declarations, then target improvement:
    Substantial  demand is needed to motivate baseline LCAs and development of standards and benchmarks.
  2. Establish appropriate Product Category Rules:
    Establish ‘rules’ for creating LCA’s  structured to motivate substantive innovation in manufacturing processes and efficiency.
  3. Strategic Start with Limited Scope:
    Identify a ‘short list’ of products/materials to address first. Provide background research to support relative importance (impact + volume).
  4. Develop Robust and Replicable Method:
    Lead standards development. Use Hybrid I/O + supply chain process data. Provide both prescriptive and performance based methods.
  5. Link to Established Data and Resources:
    Use WRI/ISO as guide for LCA/PCR standards,  comply with intent of ASTM standards under development and support their finalization.
  6. Establish Framework for Expansion/Development:
    Recognize that this is an emerging discipline and that effectiveness will require a strategy that is flexible and continually refined.

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