Carbon Leadership Forum

November 19, 2019

Press Release: Breakthrough tool launched at Greenbuild empowers users to learn how buildings and infrastructure can radically reduce embodied carbon

The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”) tool delivers the first digitized EPDs for construction materials in a free platform designed to accelerate early adoption across the entire construction industry.

Georgia World Congress Center, ATLANTA – November 19, 2019 – The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool launched in public beta version at Greenbuild today, giving the building industry a powerful means to take action on an area of growing concern: embodied carbon emissions of building materials.

This free, open-access tool, based on the industry’s first database of digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), will allow architects, engineers, owners, construction companies, building material suppliers and policy makers users to easily evaluate and reduce embodied carbon emissions from construction materials, effectively empowering them to reduce embodied carbon within buildings at scale.

The building and construction sector have a vital role to play in eliminating carbon, as it is responsible for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Architecture 2030 reports that between now and 2060 the world’s population will double the amount of building floor-space, equivalent to building an entire New York City every month for 40 years. Much of the carbon footprint of these new buildings will take the form of embodied carbon — the emissions associated with material production and building construction.

In fact, Architecture 2030 reports that embodied carbon will be responsible for almost half of total new construction emissions between now and 2050. Unlike operational carbon emissions, which can be reduced over time with building energy-efficiency renovations and the use of renewable energy, embodied carbon emissions are locked in place as soon as a building is built.

“It is critical that owners, designers, engineers, contractors, and policy makers turn their attention to building materials and seek information that will pave the way to reduce embodied carbon,” said Kate Simonen, director of the Carbon Leadership Forum and professor in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington. “Recognizing this imperative, the Carbon Leadership Forum and nearly 50 industry leaders came together to offer their expertise, committed to a tool that was free to use and part of a growing open-access embodied carbon data ecosystem.”

Industry Firsts

The EC3 tool is the first free tool that allows for supply chain specific analysis of embodied carbon data, utilizing the first searchable and sortable database of all United States and Canadian Environmental Product Declarations for concrete, steel, wood, glass, aluminum, insulation, gypsum, carpet and ceiling tiles.

In addition, the EC3 tool is revolutionizing the EPD process. It is the first tool to create a digital EPD form and to translate all EPDs into that form for viewing and analyzing the data. Prior to the introduction of this free, open-access EPD database and visualization features, users were hampered with PDF-based EPDs.

Users can now easily estimate upfront embodied carbon emissions associated with material production and construction processes. By enabling simple visualization of a project’s potential and realized embodied carbon impacts, along with the ability to see baselines and set reduction targets, users can accelerate the industry’s efforts to address the problem of embodied carbon on a global scale.

EC3 Tool Highlights

  • Digital decision-making tool to inform construction material assessment and “buy” decisions aligned with embodied carbon project performance goals.
  • Free open-access web tool allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront emissions associated with manufacturing building materials and construction.
  • Utilizes building materials quantities from construction estimates and/or BIM models and a robust database of building materials products sortable by embodied carbon. Database is based on third-party verified, digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
  • Centralizes information from a multiplicity of suppliers.
  • Powered by the data, the EC3 tool can be implemented in both the design and procurement phases of a construction project to look at a project’s overall embodied carbon emissions and potential savings, as well as sort and evaluate material manufacturers’ embodied carbon emissions in each category, enabling the specification and procurement of the lowest-carbon options.
  • Owners, green building certification systems and policymakers can easily asses supply chain data to create EPD requirements, and set embodied carbon limits and reductions, at the construction material and project scale.
  • The tool and its subsequent effect on the industry are driving demand for low-carbon solutions and incentivizing construction materials manufacturers and suppliers to invest in disclosure, transparency and material innovations that reduce the carbon emissions of their products.
  • The EC3 tool is an industry tool, built by and for the entire industry. Data entered by each respective company in their individual Building Planner is secure and confidential.
  • The EC3 tool is built with industry stakeholder input and will continue to evolve in order to meet user needs and incorporate improving data and methods.

EC3 Tool Launch at Greenbuild, November 19-22, 2019

The EC3 tool’s features will be revealed across multiple Greenbuild sessions at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. Visitors to the Expo will find information on the EC3 tool at these booth locations. Locations of booth demos noted.

  • Autodesk, Inc., booth 1615
  • Carbon Leadership Forum, booth 1547
  • Interface, booth 734
  • International Living Future Institute (ILFI), 1310
  • Skanska USA Building Inc., booth 1304
  • Sustainable Minds, booth 1713

Attendees of the Greenbuild conference can learn more at the educational sessions listed here.

EC3 Tool Lead Collaborators

Skanska USA and C Change Labs conceived of the solution, and initial development was jointly funded by Skanska and Microsoft, who determined that an open platform would provide maximum impact for the industry and society at large. To accelerate development of this solution, the Carbon Leadership Forum incubated the project with strong leadership and additional financial support from Autodesk, Interface, the MKA Foundation and the Charles Pankow Foundation, lead sponsor and grant manager.

Additional EC3 Tool Partners

Pilot Partners: Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., BASF Corporation, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Microsoft Corporation, Perkins and Will, Port of Seattle, Skanska USA, Tally, Walter P Moore and Associates, Inc., and Webcor. Association Partners: American Concrete Institute (ACI) Foundation, American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the BlueGreen Alliance. Material Partners: Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions, BASF Corporation, CarbonCure Technologies, Interface, Inc., Kingspan Group, Nucor, and USG Corporation. Early Adopter Partners: Coughlin Porter Lundeen, Google, LeMessurier, Nucor, Owens Corning, PCS Structural Solutions, Salesforce, SCS Global Services, Thornton Tomasetti, TK1SC, USGBC-Los Angeles, WRNS Studio. Technology Partners: Autodesk, Climate Earth, mindful MATERIALS Library powered by Origin, Sustainable Minds and Tally. EC3 Tool Methodology Partners: Arup, Brightworks Sustainability, Central Concrete Supply Co., Inc., Climate Earth, Katerra, Kieran Timberlake, LeMessurier, LMN Architects, National Ready Mixed Concrete Co., Owens Corning, Thornton Tomasetti, Urban Fabrick, WAP Sustainability and WRNS Studio.

Learn More

For more information about the Carbon Leadership Forum and the EC3 tool, including links to our partners’ announcements, visit Carbon Leadership Forum.

To register and have access to the EC3 tool, visit Building Transparency.

World Green Building Council Report: Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront 

List of all collaborators, including spokespersons, media contacts and quotes, available upon request.

Additional Resources

The Carbon Leadership Forum

The Carbon Leadership Forum, built on a collective impact model, has amassed the largest network of architects, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, policy makers and academics to reduce the carbon impact of materials in buildings. Together, we have developed an extensive body of research and resources necessary to inform and empower our members, while building a robust collaborative network – the Embodied Carbon Network – that is inspiring and connecting our members to enact change. This has resulted in member-led initiatives, including the recent structural engineers embodied carbon challenge (SE 2050) and the development of the EC3 tool. For more information visit: www.carbonleadershipforum.org

Contacts

Kate Simonen
Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

Media Contact

Anne Banta
Communications, Carbon Leadership Forum