Embodied Carbon Cities Policy Toolkit

This resource library was made in partnership with C40 Cities.

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Embodied Carbon 101

What is embodied carbon and why are we discussing it? Use these resources to develop a baseline understanding of core concepts and key terminology.

Reducing Embodied Carbon in Buildings:

This report examines a suite of low-cost, high-value opportunities for reducing embodied carbon in construction. Examining four typical building typologies, the report demonstrates how climate-smart procurement in just five material categories (concrete, rebar, insulation, glazing, and finish materials) can reduce embodied carbon by as much 46 percent with as little as 1 percent cost premium. A Summary for Policymakers version can be downloaded.

Regulating Embodied Emissions of Buildings:

This manual was created for policymakers and other decision makers such as owners, designers, engineers, and procurement officers to help bridge the knowledge gaps and barriers the industry needs to overcome to effectively reduce embodied emissions. This includes background information on embodied emissions, benchmarks from 41 large buildings across Ontario, proposed reduction targets, and policy recommendations with sample language and reporting templates.

Addressing the Construction Sector’s Hidden Emissions:

C40 created a policy brief explaining the importance of addressing hidden emissions from the construction sector and the clean construction hierarchy.

The Embodied Carbon Review: Embodied Carbon Reduction in 100+ Regulations & Rating Systems Globally:

This policy overview from One-Click LCA outlines over 100 certifications, regulations, standards, and guidelines used around the world to reduce embodied carbon.

Please reach out to RMI and C40 Cities for other embodied carbon resources to support your city’s efforts to lead the reduction of embodied carbon in construction:

This resource library was inspired by a 2022 workshop series co-hosted by C40 and RMI for city officials seeking to implement embodied carbon reduction strategies. The resources included in the library were shared by the workshop attendee group and were developed the following organizations: American Institute of Architects, Architecture 2030, Architects Declare, Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, Buildings as Material Banks, Builders for Climate Action, Building Transparency, Carbon Leadership Forum, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, EHDD, Government Alliance on Race and Equity, Greenlining Institute, Mantle Developments, New Buildings Institute, OneClick LCA, Pacific Coast Collaborative, Sustainable Procurement Pledge, and the following municipalities: Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boulder, CO; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; London, England; Milan, Italy; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; San Antonio, TX; Seattle, WA; Toronto, Canada; and Vancouver, Canada.