Carbon Leadership Forum

December 4, 2019

New White Paper from Builders for Climate Action: Low-rise Buildings as a Climate Change Solution

Builders for Climate Action is a project of Endeavor, the Sustainable Building School, and Greenup, central and eastern Ontario’s leading organization focused on issues of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship.

The Study at a Glance

WHY

  • Buildings are a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and no climate action plan can succeed without adequately addressing this key sector
  • The response to building-related emissions has been to focus solely on energy efficiency, but this may  result in initiatives and policies that will raise emissions rather than lower them
  • We can feasibly and affordably capture and store vast amounts of carbon in buildings, transforming the sector from a major emitter to a major carbon sink

Buildings contribute to climate change  in three distinct ways:

  1. Up-front embodied carbon: the emissions arising   from the harvesting, manufacturing and transportation   of building materials
  2. Energy efficiency: the amount of energy consumed   by buildings expressed as energy use intensity or EUI
  3. Fuel source emissions: the emissions profile of the fuel   used to heat, cool and power appliances in buildings

All three factors must be considered in order to address  emissions from the building sector.

HOW

  • Two sample buildings are modeled with a wide array of conventional and alternative building materials to determine the GHG impact on “up-front” embodied carbon emissions
  • The sample buildings are modeled at two levels of energy efficiency using two different fuel sources to determine effects on operational emissions
  • Results from embodied and operational emissions are combined to determine best practice to reduce or eliminate building emissions between 2020  and 2050
  • Up-front embodied carbon, fuel source emissions and energy efficiency measures are ranked by their impact on overall carbon footprint

Download the white paper or read it online