If we are to meet the goals set out in the Paris agreement and limit global warming to below 2°C, we must reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. To reduce the temperature, increase by more, the cuts will need to be even faster and more drastic.
The first step is to identify the source of the problem. Here, the news for the architectural and construction sectors is sobering. Global construction and associated materials manufacturing together account for the largest human contribution to global carbon emissions – more than 55% of the total, to be exact.
As such, urgent action is needed to reduce the embodied carbon footprint of all new buildings, infrastructure, and materials by at least 50%. How can this be achieved? What choices must specifiers make – in terms of design, materials and construction methods – if they hope to turn this goal into a reality?
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Key Learning Outcomes
At the end of this presentation, you should be able to:
- Outline the scale of the climate change problem as it relates to the construction sectors.
- Define the term ‘embodied carbon’ and explain how it relates to the built environment.
- Identify the challenges and complexities involved in any attempt to construct a ‘sustainable building’.
- Outline strategies that specifiers who wish to minimise the embodied carbon in their projects can follow.
- List the four key design principles of achieving net zero embodied carbon.
AACA Competency Standards
Design: Project Briefing 1.2, 1.4, 1.5
Design: Conceptual Design 3.3, 3.4, 3.7
Design: Schematic Design 4.2, 4.4, 4.6, 4.7
Dr. Caroline Noller, Founder & CEO, The Footprint Company
We believe property is a key contributor to global ecological stress and must lead mitigation action, and that a more efficient property sector is good for the planet and society. Our purpose is to enable the property and construction industry to deliver Net Zero Carbon by 2040. We do this by reducing the cost and complexity of achieving Net Zero carbon design, synthesising the latest research and delivering it in a way that is simple to understand and ready-to-use.
Philip Oldfield, Head of School, UNSW Built Environment
Philip Oldfield is Head of School at UNSW Built Environment, Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture.
Philip’s research interests are focused primarily on sustainable design, embodied carbon and tall building architecture. He is an active member of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), and is author of the book “The Sustainable Tall Building: A Design Primer” published by Taylor and Francis in 2019. He has led over $1 million of funded research projects with diverse inter-disciplinary teams from industry and academia, tackling issues varying from how we use evidence to create high performance buildings, to strategies to simultaneously reduce embodied carbon and cost in buildings. He was a guest editor for Energy and Buildings on a special issue dedicated to embodied carbon, and has also published in The Journal of Architecture, Architectural Science Review, Solar Energy, A+U, Emotion Space and Society and more.
Steve Fox, Principal, Architectus
Steve Fox specialises in digital design and construction. He is the General Manager of BIM Consulting, and strategic advisor for digital technology implementation to parent company, Architectus. After 15 years working as an architect, he has spent the last 10 years in technological leadership positions for multi-disciplinary design studios in Sydney and London.
He has expertise in digital implementation, project information management, training, BIM management and digital engineering, BIM to FM integration, openBIM, 3D modelling, 3D coordination/clash detection, and emerging technologies. Steve is an Autodesk Revit Certified Professional and holds a buildingSMART BIMcreds (strategic) qualification.