Carbon emissions from the materials used to construct buildings is a major global emissions source but is not yet part of many official calculations to decarbonize buildings. Current and historic efforts have focused primarily on reducing operational energy use – the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels at the buildings – or to produce electricity to power homes and businesses. Yet there are easy and cost-effective actions that can be taken now to reduce emissions associated with building materials. Substituting fossil based products like spray foam with biogenic ones like cellulose insulation, reducing the use of high intensity materials like concrete through design changes, or selecting low carbon mixes are some of the changes that can be made now on projects at no or low additional cost. These actions will lead to reductions in emissions in the immediate future. A time critical to slowing the total increase in global temperatures, necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change and associated extreme weather events.
In June of this year, New York released its first round of Executive Order 22 Embodied Carbon guidance, identifying high carbon intensity materials in use on NYS projects, and establishing a reporting framework to collect data on their use and type. This presentation will present that work, as well as provide an overview of what other states and the US government are doing to reduce embodied carbon emissions.
Mikhail Haramati is the New York State subject matter expert on embodied carbon and has been leading the effort to reduce emissions in State procurements and public offer initiatives.