Carbon Leadership Forum

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The Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington is accelerating transformation of the building sector to radically reduce and ultimately eliminate the embodied carbon in building materials and construction.

We are pioneering research, creating resources, and incubating member-led initiatives around this shared goal.

We are architects, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, building owners, and policymakers who care about the future: we work collaboratively taking bold steps together for greatest
collective impact.

Did you know?

As the world builds the equivalent of an entire New York City every month, reducing the carbon emissions of materials is an imperative.

While we’ve made great progress improving the energy efficiency of building operations, the next frontier is reducing embodied carbon in buildings-the emissions from material manufacturing and construction processes.

The Carbon Leadership Forum works to inspire cross-sector collaboration and spur collective action toward net zero embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure. Together, we can confront the urgency of climate change — for a healthier planet and for those who live on it.

Illustration by Stacy Smedley of Skanska

Learn more

The Carbon Leadership Forum accelerates transformation of the building sector to bring embodied carbon to zero through cutting-edge research, cross-sector collaboration, and the incubation of new practices and policies. If you’re new to the topic, we suggest starting with the following key links to learn more.

link to bill gates video

Materials matter: Bill Gates explains the importance of embodied carbon

This is a great short video on the importance of reducing the emissions from the manufacturing sector that highlights the need for the building sector to take action. Send the link to your network. It’s a quick and easy introduction to a topic that can seem opaque.

Watch the video


Report from Building Green on the urgency of embodied carbon

Once you have the basics, we recommend this report from Building Green that dives into some of the details of embodied carbon and actions you can take to reduce them in your projects. They even offer a course that provides continuing education credits (from the American Institute of Architects and from the Green Building Certification Institute for its LEED Credential Maintenance Program).

Read the Report

Embodied Carbon Benchmark Study

This Carbon Leadership Forum project includes embodied carbon data for over 1,000 buildings and resulted in an interactive tool to help evaluate the order of magnitude of embodied carbon impacts of common building types. We’re finding that for a new building more than half of the carbon emissions between now and 2050 can be attributed to the ‘upfront’ emissions embodied in materials and construction.

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Life Cycle Assessment Practice Guide

Life Cycle Assessment is the method used to evaluate embodied carbon. The Embodied Carbon Benchmark Study identified a need in the industry for standardized and accessible guidance on how to conduct an LCA of a building. The LCA Practice Guide was developed to address this need. This guide is in two parts: Part 1 is a general overview of Life Cycle Assessment, or ‘LCA’ useful for anyone interested in understanding the method, Part 2 gives recommendations for building industry professionals looking to evaluate the embodied carbon of a building.

Learn more



Research to inform Practice and Policy

The Carbon Leadership Forum at the University of Washington conducts studies and curates data to understand the impacts of embodied carbon, as well as to identify opportunities to cut emissions. We share what we’re learning with practitioners and policymakers to inform practices and policies that support a thriving and sustainable building sector. Visit our Projects library to access key publications.

Learn more


EC3 calculates and compares the carbon footprint of building material products

Use the EC3 tool (available November) to evaluate carbon

The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool will be a free, open source web platform enabling building designers, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, developers, and owners to measure and reduce carbon emissions associated with the manufacture of building materials and construction of buildings. The EC3 tool accesses an open source database of EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) for thousands of building materials from suppliers across the industry. It allows users to search by material performance, location and carbon intensity. The EC3 tool relies on sophisticated, research-based methodologies to support the analysis and representation of the carbon footprint of common building materials and introduces a new digital EPD to make it easy to accurately compare the carbon footprint of similar materials.

Learn more


Embodied Carbon Network

The Embodied Carbon Network is a shared learning community of building industry professionals focused in designing embodied and operational carbon out of our new and renovated buildings to achieve a carbon-neutral built environment by 2050. The Network is growing rapidly, with over 600 members and more joining every day. Members attend webinars and work groups aimed at transforming buildings and construction practices, improving LCA data and tools, innovating materials, developing model policies, sharing and sparking research, and telling the story of embodied carbon to a broad audience.

Join the Network

Accept the Structural Engineers 2050 Challenge

Structural engineers have the opportunity to be leaders in the growing market of climate-smart building design and construction. Structural materials account for at least 50% of the carbon emitted in production, delivery, and installation of materials for new construction; these ‘embodied carbon’ impacts of structures are significant and must be addressed. The latest IPCC reports tell us the buildings sector only has until 2050 to reach carbon neutrality. Structural engineers must act now.

Learn more

Sign up

  • Subscribe to get resources and news.
  • Register now to get access to the EC3 tool.
  • Join the Embodied Carbon Network.
  • Support the Structural Engineers SE 2050 Challenge.