METALCONLive! and Metal Architecture will kick off its unique series of webinars THIS Wednesday, January 13 at 1:00 pm EST with “Civitas and the Role of Metal in Meeting a Zero Carbon World.” So what is a zero carbon world and why is it important? Zero carbon means that no carbon emissions are being produced from a product/service e.g. zero-carbon electricity could be provided by a 100% renewable energy supplier. Put simply, “net zero” means we are not adding new emissions to the atmosphere. Emissions will continue, but will be balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

In an article published in Metal Architecture just last month, Alan Scott, FAIA, LEED Fellow, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, WELL AP, CEM, shares, “With the anticipated reentry of the U.S. in the Paris Agreement, we can expect that post-pandemic economic recovery will include investments in buildings and infrastructure, with a focus on cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In addition to reducing operational carbon emissions (emissions from energy use over the life of the building), we also need to reduce embodied carbon (emissions from extraction, manufacturing, transport and installation of building materials).”

According to the United Nations, “Practically every country has joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, which calls for keeping the global temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial era levels. If we continue to pump out the emissions that cause climate change, however, temperatures will continue to rise well beyond 1.5, to levels that threaten the lives and livelihoods of people everywhere. Net zero by 2050 is the goal.”

The building sector is the single largest consumer of energy and producer of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), “Buildings account for nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions today—but they don’t have to. AIA’s Design Data Exchange lets AEC professionals easily benchmark their projects against industry averages and track performance on their journey to a carbon neutral future.” The Design Data Exchange, or DDx, is a national framework created by AIA with simple metrics and a standardized reporting format for measuring progress. The research tool allows you to compare projects of similar type, size, climate, and a host of other attributes across the 2030 portfolio.

Design professionals are also encouraged to support AIA’s 2030 Challenge and transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven. By prioritizing energy performance, participating firms can more easily work toward carbon neutral buildings, developments and major renovations by 2030. You can gain access to the Design Data Exchange (DDx) by joining the 2030 Challenge. The AIA 2030 Commitment program offers architects a way to publicly show their dedication and track progress toward a carbon-neutral future. 

A carbon neutral built environment begins with design and planning. Architecture 2030, a non-profit organization established in 2002, exists to rapidly transform the built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate and energy crisis has developed education programs, initiatives, and resources that provide the tools needed to meet these goals, from a free online database of  low-cost sustainable design strategies to a 10-course online education series for continuing education credits.

How does the use of metal play a role?

In his article, Scott states, “With buildings responsible for approximately 40% of annual global carbon emissions, embodied carbon in materials accounts for almost one-third of these. Concrete and steel generate the bulk of embodied carbon emissions, followed by aluminum, glass and insulation.”

He adds, “Manufacturers of metal building materials and systems can proactively decarbonize their products by sourcing raw materials from lower-carbon suppliers, using renewable energy in manufacturing, increasing recycled content, and implementing innovations in fabrication and distribution. The steel industry is currently among the three largest global producers of carbon dioxide (~8%).” Beyond the sourcing of lower carbon raw materials, increasing recycled content can significantly reduce carbon emissions in metals.”

Scott strongly urges the metal building community to get on board with reducing the carbon footprint. He says, “The metal building industry should be proactive in reducing its carbon footprint and reporting material transparency to stay competitive and demonstrate leadership. Low embodied carbon is now a primary attribute of preferred building materials.” Click HERE to read the full article (definitely worth the few minutes!).

This subject of “the role of metal in meeting a zero carbon world,” will be discussed in detail this Wednesday as acclaimed architect, Barry Yoakum, presents his zero carbon home, “Civitas,” as a case study. Register for the webinar and get access to either joining us “live” on Wednesday or to receive the “on-demand” link to watch it later. Click the image below to register. Participants can earn one AIA credit for participation in the webinar.