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PBC and BCA "EMBARC" on world's first study of GHG emissions from residential building materials

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

National non-profit Passive Buildings Canada (PBC) has received funding from The Atmospheric Fund (TAF) to conduct the world’s first benchmarking study of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with materials production for residential homes. The study, “Emissions from Materials Benchmark Assessment of Residential Construction'' (EMBARC), will be completed by the end of the year. The EMBARC study will be conducted in partnership with PBC member Builders for Climate Action (BCA). “Upfront or embodied carbon from building materials is an often overlooked problem with a significant impact on health and the environment. We are excited to partner with a member organization, Builders for Climate Action, to provide an important study and resource for builders, designers, building owners, municipalities in the GTHA and beyond," said Kim Walton, PBC board chair. Chris Magwood, co-founder of Builders for Climate Action, said “The production of building materials is a significant source of GHG emissions, representing around 20% of global fossil fuel emissions. Many green building certifications and codes have been developed to limit operational GHG emissions without considering material emissions, largely due to a lack of awareness and data. This study will put the GTHA at the forefront of understanding this issue and help to generate a response in keeping with our emission reduction targets.”

Materials emissions data will be assessed using BCA’s materials emissions calculator BEAM, which has been developed over several years and rigorously tested. In addition to whole building results, the study will illustrate which materials/assemblies within each building are responsible for the most emissions and identify opportunities for significant reductions by comparing options for each material.

The results from this study will identify “emission hot spots” at the whole building and individual material levels. The study will enable all stakeholders within the sector to begin formulating appropriate responses with the largest impacts on emission levels. The results will enable GTHA regulators to assess how different policy options might lead to large-scale material emission reductions to complement existing GHG reduction goals in the building sector. PBC and BCA hope the study will encourage builders and developers to change some of their practices.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash