AIA 2030 Letter from the co-chair
Earlier this year the AIA was invited to participate in a collaborative effort to align North American architecture, engineering and construction industries on Embodied Carbon.
The workshop was convened by Architecture2030, Building Transparency, the Carbon Leadership Forum, the International Living Future Institute, and the US Green Building Council. In attendance were members of the organizing groups along with representatives from the Contractors Commitment, the Climate Positive Design Challenge, American Society of Landscape Architects, Infrastructure2050 (American Society of Civil Engineers), the MEP 2040 Commitment, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) (Infrastructure 2050 and SEI SE 2050 Commitment) (Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE). The AIA is represented by myself, Lona Rerick, AIA, Co-Chair of the A&D Materials Pledge; Melissa Morancy, Assoc. AIA, Director, Climate Action Pledge Programs; and Kathleen Lane, AIA, Managing Director, Sustainability & Resilience.
Collectively the group agreed to this statement: “As organizations currently or imminently gathering embodied carbon data from the built environment industry, creating tools and resources, and building awareness about this critical issue, we believe that we can move faster together. We will be meeting again in May to plan our collaboration.”
The AIA’s 2030 Commitment has led the way towards decarbonizing the operational impacts of buildings (see Architecture2030’s companion update), and we’ve made impressive progress together. Embodied Carbon represents a similar challenge but with a much shorter timeframe to get to zero. Producing concrete steel and other resources with renewable energy combined with a rapid increase in the use of carbon storing resources—wood, of course, but importantly increasing the use of more rapidly renewable bio-based materials such as bamboo, hemp and straw. As the attached graph from a recent call for grant applications from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects program illustrates, these represent a significant opportunity to balance the emitted carbon of other non-organic materials, which are difficult ot reduce beyond some point. We hope to see more small and medium sized firms—whose work encompasses some of the best opportunities to integrate these resources—to join in the building decarbonization transition.
We invite 2030 signatories to explore calculating and reporting the embodied carbon for at least one project in the 2023 reporting cycle, and to those reporting already, we thank you and suggest setting a target percentage of your portfolio to report into the DDx. Look for further updates on the EC/Decarb Alignment Group’s progress in future newsletters.
David Arkin, AIA
2023 AIA 2030 Commitment Working Group co-chair