white papers

Embodied Carbon White Paper

The building sector accounts for about one third of GHG emissions globally, and about 12% in Canada. Yet this number does not include the manufacturing and transportation of building materials, suggesting that the building sector accounts for a higher percentage of GHG emissions. Indeed, buildings emit GHG throughout their lifecycles, from raw material extraction and construction to operations and demolition. Given that current energy performance programs primarily focus on operational emissions, these longitudinal embodied carbon emissions are missed in energy performance models, thus representing only part of the sustainability equation. As pressure mounts to reduce GHG emissions, efforts to address carbon emissions have widened to include those embodied in raw material extraction, manufacturing, delivery, construction methods, and end of life disposal or recycling. This white paper explores the issues and urgency relating to embodied carbon, current industry trends on the topic, and the potential to influence regulations and standards to incorporate embodied carbon measures. This paper also analyzes the impact of design decisions on embodied carbon, specifically structural materials, building form, and ECMs. Where applicable, embodied carbon is compared to the operational savings associated with these design decisions.

Authored by Steve Dulmage & Michael Mousa