Published in ThinkWood
The Urgent Need to Lower Building Carbon Footprints
The built environment is growing at a record pace in the US and Canada. It is estimated that 2.5 million new housing units are needed to make up for the nation’s housing shortage in the US alone.
Buildings and their construction account for 39% of global carbon dioxide emissions; 28% of those emissions come from operational carbon—the energy used to power, heat and cool a building. Buildings’ operational carbon can be reduced through energy efficiency measures and policymakers, architects, developers, and engineers have made significant advances in this arena. The remaining 11% of carbon emissions are generated from building materials and construction. This “embodied carbon” can account for half of the total carbon footprint over the lifetime of the building.
To reduce the GHG emissions associated with construction, specifiers and stakeholders need to act now to create embodied carbon strategies that reduce environmental impacts from buildings we’ll use well into the future. The costs of delaying any longer are too high. Greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 90% since 1970. A 1.5% increase in global warming will have catastrophic results for ecosystems and people around the world, including the United States and Canada.