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Buildings alone account for 40%
of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Two thirds of that total impact
is from operational emissions while the remainder is from embodied
emissions. Embodied emissions include all the emissions required to
produce everything that goes into our buildings – the structure, enclosure and
all the materials inside. Until recently, the focus in the building design
community has been on reducing operational emissions since they represent a
bigger piece of the pie. But as we have driven down operational emissions
through smarter designs, there has been a shift to focus on the remainder that
is due to embodied carbon.
Between now and 2050, we are going to add about 2 billion people to this planet and close to double the square footage of the built environment. In this short time period, half of the new construction emissions between now and then will be from embodied carbon. Our community cannot ignore this any longer and meet the goals set forth by the IPCC to essentially decarbonize the building industry by 2050. Therefore, the industry has begun to take action and groups like AIA 2030, Architecture 2030, SE2050, and USGBC have shifted their focus to include embodied carbon.
In order to address this issue, we need to take steps to quantify and then reduce our impact. We can do this using a process called Whole Building Lifecycle Assessment (WBLCA). The goal of the WBLCA is to reduce the embodied impacts of a building by quantifying the environmental impacts of structure and enclosure. In addition to or in lieu of WBLCA, designers can perform embodied carbon studies to quantify this one environmental impact. New tools like EC3 are very user friendly and simple to use to perform these studies. There are several tools and guidelines that exist to help practitioners in this process to achieve this credit and reduce embodied carbon.
The NCSEA Sustainable Design Committee aims to promote sustainable design practices within the profession of structural engineering through leadership, advocacy, outreach and education. To that end, Committee Chair, Kelly Roberts, along with fellow speaker, Megan Stringer, Co-Chair of SEI Sustainability Committee and Communications Lead for SE 2050, will discuss:
- embodied carbon and why it is relevant to the building design and construction community
- new groups in the industry such as the NCSEA Sustainable Design Committee and it’s partnership with SE2050
- tools that can be used to study embodied carbon and perform LCA studies
- steps design teams considering pursuing the LCA in rating systems can take to incorporate LCA into their design process
This event is FREE for all SEA Members including SEA Leadership.
No PDHs will be awarded.