Builders for Climate Action is a project of Endeavor, the Sustainable Building School, and Greenup, central and eastern Ontario’s leading organization focused on issues of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship.
The Study at a Glance
- Buildings are a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and no climate action plan can succeed without adequately addressing this key sector
- The response to building-related emissions has been to focus solely on energy efficiency, but this may result in initiatives and policies that will raise emissions rather than lower them
- We can feasibly and affordably capture and store vast amounts of carbon in buildings, transforming the sector from a major emitter to a major carbon sink
Buildings contribute to climate change in three distinct ways:
- Up-front embodied carbon: the emissions arising from the harvesting, manufacturing and transportation of building materials
- Energy efficiency: the amount of energy consumed by buildings expressed as energy use intensity or EUI
- Fuel source emissions: the emissions profile of the fuel used to heat, cool and power appliances in buildings
All three factors must be considered in order to address emissions from the building sector.
- Two sample buildings are modeled with a wide array of conventional and alternative building materials to determine the GHG impact on “up-front” embodied carbon emissions
- The sample buildings are modeled at two levels of energy efficiency using two different fuel sources to determine effects on operational emissions
- Results from embodied and operational emissions are combined to determine best practice to reduce or eliminate building emissions between 2020 and 2050
- Up-front embodied carbon, fuel source emissions and energy efficiency measures are ranked by their impact on overall carbon footprint