With buildings accounting for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year, reducing their impact has become a world-wide priority. The World Green Building Council has called for global commitments in the building sector to reduce operational and embodied carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

A JLL report claims that, in light of 2030 sustainability targets, low-carbon buildings are becoming a crucial metric for an attractive workplace. But the increasing demand for buildings with low embodied carbon is not being met with a sufficient building supply— in the coming years, technology to reduce embodied carbon in building materials must advance to meet this demand.

Three out of four new lease requirements in major US markets’ top 100 office occupiers will be tied to a carbon commitment by 2030— timely development of low-carbon buildings is crucial to maintain these commitments. The JLL report predicts that “demand for high quality, low carbon workspace is set to outstrip supply by 75% across major U.S. markets by 2030. This equates to a projected supply shortage of 57 million square feet of low carbon office space in the next few years.”

“The increasing demand versus supply gap makes the commercial case for investment in making buildings more sustainable. Owners that take the necessary action in a timely manner can enjoy financial benefits through higher rents, cheaper debt, and the chance to attract or retain high quality tenants.”

The Canadian Green Building Council’s low carbon training program echoes this, stating that prioritization of low-carbon buildings could triple the Canadian green building sector by 2030, adding up to 1.5 million jobs. The low-carbon building boom will likely extend beyond just office buildings to residential and commercial sectors, reflecting a larger societal change in attitude toward reducing carbon emissions.

The Green Policy Platform also notes that “embodied carbon reduction is hindered by a lack of scalable, low-carbon technical solutions, as well as a lack of awareness of and expertise surrounding existing ones. There is a lack of performance data and examples of regulatory support for existing solutions.”

This policy dedication to reducing embodied carbon is echoed in the US, remarks JLL: “Currently, there are 48 benchmarking policies and eleven building performance standards in place across the U.S. By 2024, there will be over 35 jurisdictions with building performance standards, showing the shift in city policy from measurement to management.”

When it comes to reducing a building’s embodied carbon, concrete is the material that contributes the most significant GHG emissions to a building’s envelope. This is largely due to the heavily emissive manufacturing process of cement, concrete’s main active ingredient. Using the CarbiCrete process, 100% of cement is replaced with steel slag, an industrial byproduct, in the concrete mix. The steel slag concrete is then cured via CO2 mineralization, further reducing emissions through carbon sequestration.

Meeting the demand for low-carbon buildings in the coming years will require the use of materials with reduced embodied carbon. CarbiCrete technology for the production of precast concrete and masonry products has a demonstrably lower embodied carbon level than ready-mix alternatives, and further improves it through replacing cement and incorporating carbon mineralization. Using CarbiCrete technology, the embodied carbon emissions of masonry used in a building project can be reduced by over 100%. When seeking to meet low-carbon building demand and reduce embodied carbon, specifying CarbiCrete decarbonized products can have a huge impact on a building’s sustainability footprint.

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