From the “Reversing Climate Change” Podcast
The RCC podcast is produced by our friends at Nori, a blockchain-based marketplace for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Recently, the podcast interviewed Kate Simonen, founding director of the Carbon Leadership Forum, a research effort focused on advancing low-carbon construction, and also one of the initiators of Carbon Smart Building. Kate and the Carbon Leadership Forum are currently hosting the development of the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3), an open source tool and database that building designers and construction companies will use to measure and minimize the carbon emissions associated with building manufacturing and construction.
What follows is a summary from Nori of the interview, plus a link to the actual podcast. Enjoy!
The processes of building material extraction, manufacturing, transportation and construction are ALL responsible for carbon emissions. So, how do you compare these embodied costs to make the best choices around which materials to use? How do you know whether it’s better for the environment to retrofit an existing building or build a new, passive one? How do you determine whether a building truly qualifies as zero-carbon? The primary tool we use to measure environmental impact is the life cycle assessment.
Kate Simonen is a carbon accounting expert and professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington. As a licensed architect and structural engineer, she has an extensive background in high-performance building systems, seismic design and retrofitting, and net-zero energy construction. Kate’s research is focused on environmental life cycle assessment and innovative construction materials and methods.
In this podcast, Kate joins Ross and Christophe to share the ins and outs of life cycle assessments, or LCAs. She explains how to draw systems boundaries in a useful way and describes what makes for a good versus bad LCA. Kate walks us through the stages of building, discussing how LCAs can be applied in each phase and sharing the CLF’s aim to increase awareness around why material choices matter. Listen in for Kate’s insight on the trend toward green building, the opportunities for storing carbon in the built-environment, and the three ways you can get involved in the life cycle assessment space!