February 16, 2018
Get help with embodied carbon in the Zero Carbon Building standard and City of Vancouver regulations
“Embodied carbon” is a shorthand way to refer to all the lifetime GHG emissions due to a building other than for building operation. Most embodied emissions are upstream of building occupancy – they are primarily related to the manufacturing of materials.
Embodied carbon has long been overlooked as a green building target. This is starting to change. Two ground-breaking programs in Canada explicitly recognize the importance of reducing embodied carbon through design decisions.
Both programs are starting with a baby step: measure and report embodied carbon. Somewhere down the road, there may be performance targets. But for now, these reporting requirements serve a useful function to build skills and awareness.
The Canada Green Building Council launched its Zero Carbon Building Standard in May 2017. Embodied carbon measurement is mandatory for compliance: applicants must conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) study and provide a report. Instructions are provided in the document available at the link above.
Similarly, an update to the City of Vancouver “Green buildings policy for rezonings” includes an embodied carbon reporting component in one of the two compliance paths for rezoning applicants. Effective May 2017, all rezonings in Vancouver must comply with this policy. For detailed instructions on conducting an LCA study for the embodied carbon calculation, see the “process and requirements” document.
In the context of these two programs, embodied carbon is the global warming potential (GWP) result from a whole-building LCA study. The Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings, our free software tool, is ideal for calculating embodied carbon and reporting the result to comply with these programs.
Both of these LCA requirements usefully align with the LCA credit in LEED v4 (learn more about LCA in other green building programs). If you’re already working towards the LEED LCA credit, you can also directly use those results with the CaGBC ZCB program and with the City of Vancouver, even if you don’t achieve the LEED credit.
Want help complying with embodied carbon reporting requirements? We can do it for you, or coach you through it, on an hourly-fee basis. Contact us for more information.