Use or repurpose existing buildings and infrastructure
Using and upgrading existing structures is the best emissions reduction solution. Demolishing existing structures and re-constructing is a huge source of embodied emissions.
Use salvaged and/or recycled materials
Use salvaged or recycled materials whenever possible to eliminate the emissions associated with manufacturing new materials.
Optimize systems for material efficiency
Specify higher grade options to reduce material usage, and don’t use material where it isn’t needed.
Specify materials that naturally sequester carbon
Materials such as wood, straw, clay-straw, hemp, cork, sheep’s wool, etc., naturally sequester carbon and store if for their useful life. Many state codes are expanding to allow for these materials.
Specify materials manufactured with renewable energy
Materials manufactured with renewable energy have a greatly reduced embodied emissions impact as compared to materials manufactured with fossil fuel energy.
Design for durability
Use the appropriate product to withstand the wear and tear of the space to ensure that they’ll last the lifespan of the structure.
Choose the right materials for your climate
Use the appropriate materials and products for the project’s climate by understanding how each material handles heat and moisture, individually and in an assembly, to ensure the durability of the structure.
Get to know the supply chain for your specific project
Understand where the materials for your project come from and the emissions implications of their manufacturing and transportation. Design to use the lowest emisisons systems and materials.
Understanding your region and source locally
Knowing what materials are available in your region is the key to specifying local materials. Additionally, using local resources and materials reduces transportation emissions.
Use low-emissions transportation
In addition to having a lower distance of travel by sourcing local materials, the transportation of materials is part of a material’s embodied emissions footprint. Whenever possible, specify products that use low-emissions transportation per unit, such as transportation via barge and train. Note this should be balanced by the distance traveled.
Establish emissions targets
Establish operational and embodied emissions performance targets. Ensure that all parties involved in the design and construction of the project (including owners, occupants, architects, engineers, contractors, and consultants) support the targets and understand their role in balancing operational performance with embodied emissions in order to achieve the established targets.