Chop down embedded carbon in new builds

In ‘Posada José Ignacio’, 532 m3 of wood were used, which is equivalent to 580 tons of Co2 contained in the infrastructure, which is equivalent to removing 122 cars from the automotive plaza for 1 year.


The latest generation of energy-efficiency regulations laid out in provincial building codes is aimed at decarbonizing the long-term operations of a building – heating systems, insulation and other measures to cut energy consumption. But given the critical importance of stabilizing global temperatures by 2030, Drew Adams, an associate at LGA Architectural Partners, says developers and regulators need to refocus their efforts on reducing the carbon embedded in building materials. Concrete, steel and plastic foam insulation together can account for 50 to 75% of a building’s total emissions in its first decade.

To get there, provincial building codes and municipal planning departments should require developers to produce life-cycle analyses as part of the permitting process, with the goal of using regulations and incentives to promote the use of low-carbon concrete, mass timber or mineral-based insulation, like Rockwool. California and Washington State are both experimenting with “buy clean” laws that require construction firms building public projects to use carbon-reduced construction materials.

While energy-efficiency measures such as solar panels and triple pane windows can be added to existing buildings to reduce emissions, a structure made out of concrete and steel will never reverse recoup the carbon used to make those materials. As Adams points out, it’s better to embed less carbon at the front end.


Sources: CorporateKnights

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