How far can you go? How the architecture, engineering and construction industry breaks down carbon and silos

As sustainability consultants, our project managers at Verdical Group are keenly aware that this is a colossal impact and a huge window of opportunity for improving the building industry. Fortunately, because the onus of responsibility does not lie with just one building sector, every person in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) community can have a significant impact on emissions. carbon.

Break it down: what’s the problem?

“Embedded carbon is the sum of all greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) resulting from the extraction, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transportation and installation of materials. of construction.” – American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Embedded carbon is the precursor to operational carbon. Operational carbon emissions can be reduced over time through energy efficient retrofits; however, the embodied carbon emissions are blocked as soon as the building is constructed.

It takes about 30 years to offset the intrinsic carbon impacts of a typical new construction building.

Integrate sustainability from the design of the project!

In the AEC industry, we have the exciting responsibility of selecting products and processes to reduce embodied carbon emissions before a building is handed over to the end user (the operations team). Early collaboration reduces costs and coordination time and minimizes the risk that sustainability measures will subsequently be valued from the project budget. Therefore, it is highly recommended to organize a sustainability charrette as early as possible and invite all key decision makers, designers and engineers to a roundtable. At Vertical Group, we generally aim to include the owner / developer, sustainability consultant, architect, contractor and engineers (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structure, etc.).

Interested in finding out more? At the Net Zero conference September 13-16, there will be an educational session titled “How far can you go? The incorporated carbon panel. Where the panelists (including myself!) Will discuss the strategies, challenges, best practices and responsibilities of each role in the process. Check out an overview of our speakers and conversations below.

Net Zero conference: preview!

When it comes to reducing incorporated carbon, the Owner / DeveloperThe role of is to communicate the requirements, vision and expectations of the project to the team from the start of the project. Jasmine Lomax of Kilroy Realty Corporation shares her perspective on setting carbon reduction targets, monitoring the supply chain and transforming the market to zero carbon buildings.

The Architect leads the project design team and plays a critical role in selecting the appropriate materials to achieve the project’s embedded carbon goals. Kjell Anderson of LMN Architects pushes the boundaries of sustainability to get ahead of the market cost curve and acquire products with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).

Structural engineers recognize that superstructure materials, such as concrete and steel, account for 20% or more of annual global GHG emissions, in part because of the sheer amount of materials required. Luke Lombardi of Thornton Tomasetti is an advocate for solid wood, carbon injected concrete, maximizing structural efficiency and other goals of the Structural Engineering Institute SE 2050.

The Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineer (MEP) focuses on technical and building control systems. ARUP’s Zara Fahim and Erin McConahey stress that building systems should focus on MEP efficiency to reduce operational carbon emissions and support embedded carbon emissions. To do this, it is essential to perform a lifetime carbon analysis, to include refrigerants in the embodied carbon calculations and to encourage suppliers to provide EPDs.

The Service provider is the leader in cost, purchasing and quality management. Jessie Buckmaster of Hathaway Dinwiddie shares insight into how their team is using the EC3 tool (the free in-built carbon calculator) on projects to build a database and benchmark. Embedded carbon is included as a line item in the estimation process, which helps in decision making.

The Sustainable development consultant is the precursor to breaking down team silos and creating a free flow of information. I’ll talk about how consultants like Verdical Group orchestrate the goals of the carbon reduction strategy to make the project as sustainable as possible. Sustainability Consultants fight embedded carbon by leading integrated sustainability design charters, generating life cycle assessments, and managing verified third-party certifications for projects and products.

Desire to learn !

The pandemic has us stuck in our silos – working from home limiting interactions and the organic flow of conversation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we came out of this era by collectively fighting against Embedded Carbon emissions? Let’s collaborate and work towards the common goal of a Net Zero future!

Learn more about how to tackle embodied carbon emissions at this panel discussion and the full Net Zero conference, held September 13-16 with virtual and in-person outdoor options.

  • Rebecca Ramsdale is a Senior Project Manager at Verdical Group – a leading green building consulting firm that is a registered benefits company in the State of California.

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