Institute does project math in Concrete Solutions, Embodied Carbon Guides

Sources: RMI, Boulder, Colo.; CP staff

Energy market-driven RMI has released Concrete Solutions Guide in tandem with the broader Reducing Embodied Carbon in Buildings, the former presenting specific opportunities for “a nearly ubiquitous material with a sizable climate impact” and expanding on the need to optimize mixes to reduce overall embodied carbon in buildings at little to no additional cost.

Reducing Embodied Carbon lays out the framework for reducing the carbon emissions associated with building materials by nearly half in a cost-effective way. Using case studies from construction and development giant Skanska USA, it focuses on some of the most prevalent building types in the United States. Buildings account for at least 39 percent of energy-related global carbon emissions, a quarter of them associated with materials and construction processes, the report notes.

“The upfront carbon produced when we make materials has immediate impact on our climate. With the release of Reducing Embodied Carbon in Buildings and Concrete Solutions Guide, we demonstrate how engineers, architects and policymakers can easily reduce this impact,” says RMI Carbon-Free Buildings Program Principal Victor Olgyay, AIA.

“Leveraging our expertise and robust set of real project data, we were able to show that lowering embodied carbon is absolutely possible with minimal cost impacts. The industry has the knowledge, technology and data with the use of the [Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator] EC3 tool to drive lower embodied-carbon solutions,” affirms Skanska Senior Sustainability Engineer Mark Chen.

By implementing practices in the reports, RMI officials note, building owners will be better prepared for future code or policy changes that incentivize or require low embodied carbon. Such changes can come in the form of a carbon tax, procurement policies, building code requirements or other regulatory mechanisms.

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