The Path To Zero Carbon Series explores research and solutions for one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century. Addressing the climate crisis requires the buildings industry to reach carbon neutral design and construction across all projects. The building industry is responsible for roughly half of global warming, and the actions to reduce these emissions have a massive impact. With help from many collaborators, LMN Architechts launched this series to research, summarize, and prioritize the most important actions we can take across all emissions sources on projects within the built environment.
The team has organized the series into 4 sections:
Framing the Challenge considers our overall impact on our environment, resilience, and equity; our responsibility for these impacts and how they impact our clients carbon emissions disclosures; and the expanding scope of carbon emissions beyond just energy and structural embodied carbon.
Fundamentals posts cover the science, policy, and basic research that provides context for climate action, including how greenhouse gases warm the planet, the time value of carbon, how the electricity grid is transforming, and the challenges of understanding and procuring carbon offsets.
Exploring Carbon provides research on building-scale tools, methods, and strategies to understand and reduce emissions, from whole-building reuse to emerging research on embodied carbon and the circular economy.
Conclusions + Process wraps up the series, including revising LMN’s Sustainable Action Plan and strategizing a process to reduce and then eliminate emissions across our projects.
The series is an honest exploration of a very near-term and critical challenge, in the spirit of failing forward, enabled by a culture of sharing among sustainability professionals. Goals include identifying resources and robust tools to calculate and reduce carbon emissions where they exist; to provide actionable methods where tools do not exist; and to provide questions and links to studies where no tools or methods exist.
Although numerous jurisdictions have established design guides for tall mass timber buildings, architects and engineers often do not have access to the specialized building science knowledge required to deliver well-performing mass timber buildings. Mass Timber Institute(MTI) worked collaboratively with industry, design professionals, academia, researchers and code experts to develop the scope and content of this mass timber building science primer.
This report introduced mass timber building systems, which are made of wood products that are engineered to be strong, durable and fire-resistant. The report explains how mass timber buildings can be designed, constructed and evaluated in Canada, and what are the benefits and challenges of using this building system. It also compares mass timber buildings with other building systems in terms of environmental impacts and life cycle assessment.
Although various timber buildings have been built globally but the industry is still in its infancy. There are still many challenges to overcome in order to improve the uptake of mass timber in the construction industry. This initiative aims to improve the perception of mass timber in the Milanese, Italian and EU context through collective learning and a strategic communication strategy involving key stakeholder groups, the so-called ‘Big Six’: developers, investors, cities, designers, insurers, and assets owners.
As a joint effort of Perception of Timber at MIND project led by Climate-KIC and Lendlease, supported by Built by Nature, the report illustrates the Timber Perception Lab, an initiative that aims to promote the use of mass timber construction in Italy, and it outlines the next steps and goals for the second year of the initiative, such as expanding the network, scaling up the prototype, and influencing policies and regulations.
International Energy Agency (IEA); International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions
The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2023 is an annual collaboration between theInternational Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions, focused on supporting stronger international collaboration to drive faster reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions. This year’s report shows that current efforts on clean energy and sustainable solutions, while improving, are not yet delivering the levels of investment and deployment required to meet international climate goals. In response, it calls on governments to strengthen collaboration in key areas – such as standards and regulation, financial and technical assistance and market creation – to turbocharge the transition.
The 2023 edition, following the development of the Buildings Breakthrough, includes a Buildings chapter, developed in collaboration with GlobalABC and where five areas are identified as priorities for international collaboration to deliver near-zero emissions and resilient buildings: Standards and certification; Demand creation; Finance and investment; Research and deployment; and Knowledge and capacity-building.
Member companies of the Global Cement and Concrete Association have come together as leaders in the sector to commit to producing net zero concrete by 2050, in line with global climate targets – accelerating the CO2 reductions that we have already achieved. The GCCA 2050 Net Zero Roadmap sets out in detail how collectively, in collaboration with built environment stakeholders and policymakers, we will fully decarbonise the cement and concrete industry and provide net zero concrete for the world.
The buildings and construction sector is by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for a staggering 37% of global emissions. The production and use of materials such as cement, steel, and aluminum have a significant carbon footprint.
Historically, much of the sector's progress has centered around reducing the "operational” carbon emissions of buildings – those emissions stemming from heating, cooling, and lighting. Projections suggest that these operational emissions will decrease from 75% to 50% of the sector's total emissions in the coming decades.
However, solutions to mitigate the buildings "embodied" carbon emissions – originating from the design, production, and deployment of materials such as cement, steel, and aluminum – have lagged. To effectively address this challenge, international action and collaboration must bring together all stakeholders from across the entire lifecycle of the buildings sector, both within informal and formal settings.
Building Materials and the Climate: Constructing a New Future, a report developed by UNEP, Yale Center for Ecosystems + Architecture in the framework of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), highlights the pressing need to establish innovative cooperation models to decarbonize building materials. These models are critical if we are to achieve the world's ambitious target of net zero emissions from the built environment sector by mid-century.
The report also pinpoints three overarching strategies which need to be implemented together to decarbonize building materials:
Avoid unnecessary extraction and production.
Shift to regenerative materials.
Improve decarbonization of conventional materials.
By implementing these strategies jointly, we can pave the way for a greener, more sustainable built environment, aligning with our global climate objectives.
It is estimated that around 80% of cities worldwide do not have affordable housing options for the majority of their population (1). The world needs to provide two billion homes over the next 75 years — meaning 96,000 new affordable homes need to be built every day (2).
The global housing crisis, interlinked with the dual crises of unprecedented climate change and biodiversity loss, is one of the greatest social challenges we are facing today. Housing infrastructure can continue to exacerbate problems or can be part of the solution. The global building and construction industry needs a monumental shift.
The ‘Sustainable and Affordable Housing’ report challenges the widespread perception that affordable and sustainable housing is not a mass market solution. Many of the solutions to the global housing crisis already exist. The case study content from five regions highlights cutting-edge built environment projects, making sustainable and affordable housing a reality for all — from 3D printed homes in Kenya, community engagement and collaborative financing models in Nepal, to disaster-resilience retrofits in the Philippines.
Through this publication, WorldGBC champions a unified vision for sustainable, affordable housing and spotlights best practice worldwide to demonstrate opportunities for success that could be scaled for greater impact. An analysis of case study data derives key calls to action for policy makers, the finance community, community approaches, and the design and construction industry.
This report covers the role certain types of energy service agreements (ESAs), combined with federal incentives, can play in scaling AMFH retrofits, maximizing the impact of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act in decarbonizing existing buildings.
Energy service companies (ESCOs) offer solutions for solar PV, energy efficiency, and electrification measures; often assume some amount of project performance risk; and provide project financing under an ESA. Certain types of ESAs present a viable solution for solving the split incentive issue, financing mid-cycle AMFH retrofits, and addressing the challenges owners may face covering the upfront costs of comprehensive improvements.
This report is based on interviews with ESCOs and techno-economic analysis that quantifies the potential of ESAs for financing building decarbonization packages.
The roadmap outlines the New Zealand cement and concrete industry’s commitment to achieve net-zero concrete production by 2050. The roadmap sets targets for a 44% reduction in direct and electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, aligning with global standards.
The roadmap also showcases the industry’s efforts and innovations to reduce emissions and enhance the sustainability of concrete, and it aims to support the New Zealand government’s climate change goals and contribute to the global net zero movement.
The report showcases breakthrough action from across the GBC network, including the 35 GBCs participating in WorldGBC’s global Advancing Net Zero programme, 175 signatories to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment (the Commitment), the wider GBCs network, partners and more. In addition, the report also highlights collaborative efforts from the market that support WorldGBC’s mission to achieve 100% net zero carbon buildings by 2050.