This year’s Stewardship Report focuses on an issue of relevance for all materials specifiers that has gained more widespread attention during the past year and continues to build momentum. Throughout this report our experts will address: What is embodied carbon and why does it matter?

Walter P Moore understands the importance of embodied carbon and has been actively embracing our role in reducing it as structural engineers since 2002. During this time we have improved our design process, refined our specifications, and participated in many industry-leading activities to both bring awareness and achieve reductions in embodied carbon. These activities include our long-term involvement in The Carbon Leadership Forum, leadership on USGBC committees, and taking a founding role in the Embodied Carbon Network as well as the SE 2050 Initiative and our sponsorship of the EC3 tool.

We encourage you to engage with this report, explore resources and tools, and continue the dialogue. There is room for change on every project.

Dirk Kestner
Director of Sustainable Design
Principal
dkestner@walterpmoore.com

The Urgency of Embodied Carbon

According to the Building Green spotlight report, climate change is a rapidly escalating emergency and there is much that must be done in order to mitigate its effects. Building professionals and the design community have made great strides making buildings more energy-efficient reducing the amount of carbon generated as we operate our buildings, renewable energy is making our electricity grid cleaner, and buildings are increasingly becoming electrified. However, we need to push past that and consider the impact caused by when constructing our buildings in the first place—the embodied carbon.

Impact is created not only when we operate our buildings, but also through the process it takes to make our buildings. While overlooked for most of the past decade, the emissions associated with extracting processing shipping installing and maintaining the materials used in our buildings is gaining increased prominence. These emissions, the embodied emissions, occur before a building opens, and can never be recovered.

The UN Environment Global Status Report predicts that during the next 40 years we will build 2.5 trillion square feet of new building stock. Many have estimated that as the equivalent of replicating New York City every month for 40 years. This is a staggering amount of construction. If we are to make near-term greenhouse gas reductions, we must develop ways to minimize embodied impacts, specifically the embodied carbon of buildings constructed during the next 10 years, and reach net zero carbon—including embodied impacts—by 2050.

Moore on Measuring Embodied Carbon

EC3Tool | Tally | Athena | SE 2050

MooreWISE

In World Green Building Council’s report, Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront, they brought long-standing issues surrounding carbon footprint to the forefront embracing a bold vision that by 2050, new buildings, infrastructure, and renovations will have net zero embodied carbon, and all buildings, including existing buildings, must be net zero operational carbon. While this is a sizable goal, there are steps that we as an engineering community have already taken and must continue to evolve as we pursue these aspirations. Walter P Moore experts explore issues surrounding embodied carbon and expose solutions for future growth.

Stewardship begins within.

Change requires action.

Image courtesy of Polaris Materials Corporation