Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Downtown Denver features many buildings with glass facades. Researchers from NREL say retrofitting these windows with thermochromic ones can improve energy efficiency across all climate zones in the United States. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL.


California Legislation Can Cut Carbon From Building Materials

New Report from Arup and the Natural Resources Defense Council Outlines Building, Construction Decarbonization Opportunities

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

SAN FRANCISCO — The carbon emissions associated with materials used in the built environment, referred to as “embodied carbon,” are estimated to contribute up to 11% of all global energy-related carbon emissions. According to a new report from sustainable development consultancy Arup, developed on behalf of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), California is one of the first states in the country to take meaningful steps toward slashing embodied carbon emissions from new buildings and some construction materials, and can set a course for clean materials production, procurement, and use across the United States.

The new report, Embodied Carbon Reduction Roadmap: Strategies and Policies for the State of California, analyzes the pathways and strategies for California to address embodied carbon in the built environment through policy action. Looking at different types of available strategies like building reuse and using low-carbon building materials, the report estimates the relative proportion of embodied carbon they can reduce across the buildings sector.

Legislative movement around embodied carbon in California is rapidly developing. Assembly Bill (AB) 2446, signed into law in 2022, directs the development of a framework for measuring and reducing the average carbon intensity of building materials with a target set of 40% reduction by 2035. Meanwhile, the public sector in California has shown market leadership in procurement of some low-carbon materials through the landmark bill AB 262, known as the Buy Clean California Act. More recently, code changes were approved for California’s statewide green building code (CALGreen) to include mandatory embodied carbon provisions for large commercial buildings and schools.

“It’s essential we transform construction materials from a carbon cost into a decarbonization tool, because we are not going to stop building anytime soon and a lot of the strategies studied will be deeply intertwined with both housing and energy transition efforts in the coming years,” said Lauren Kubiak, a senior scientist at NRDC. “These strategies and plans must begin now, because many of the strategies and technologies to decarbonize construction materials already exist but need a policy push to be more widely adopted.”

The report focuses on California and local governments within the state and concludes that strategies to reduce embodied carbon at the building-level were determined to have the most reduction potential in the short term, while strategies to optimize procurement (i.e., material-level reductions) had the most reduction potential in the long term. While California has demonstrated leadership in low-carbon procurement of some materials through its Buy Clean California Act, the omission of concrete in that policy represents a significant gap that should be addressed to realize the full potential of embodied carbon concrete reductions.

“The report emphasizes the importance of building codes as a crucial policy lever towards encouraging much-needed building-level embodied carbon reductions,” said Lauren Wingo, Senior Structural Engineer at Arup. “Building code policies can direct designers towards more efficient resource use which, when paired with material-level decarbonization driven by Buy Clean type policies, sets us on a scalable pathway to net zero.”

It is estimated that, due to the rapid growth of new construction needed to meet the demand of growing populations, nearly half of the total carbon emissions from new construction from now until 2050 will be attributable to the embodied carbon of our built environment. By implementing these strategies we can ensure that embodied carbon emissions decline and contribute to meeting our climate goals. The report is now freely available to download on Arup’s website.

Read more about the report recommendations in this blog.

Republished from NRDC

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

EV Obsession Daily!

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

Tesla Sales in 2023, 2024, and 2030

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.
Written By

NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists, and other professionals.


You May Also Like

Clean Transport

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! According to registration data used as a proxy...


Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! With more electric vehicle choices than ever, EV...


Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! Jill Pestana is a California-based battery scientist and...

Electric Vehicles

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News! Since the beginning of 2022, electric vehicle sales...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.