Embodied Carbon Construction Calculator Launches at Greenbuild

Embodied Carbon Construction Calculator Launches at Greenbuild

November 19, 2019

The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”) tool delivers the first digitized EPDs for construction materials in a free platform designed to accelerate early adoption across the entire construction industry.

With this, the building industry has a powerful tool to take action on an area of growing concern—embodied carbon emissions of building materials. This free, open-access tool, based on the industry’s first database of digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), will allow architects, engineers, owners, construction companies, building material suppliers and policymakers users to easily evaluate and reduce embodied carbon emissions from construction materials, effectively empowering them to reduce embodied carbon within buildings at scale.

As a Sponsor and Pilot Partner, Walter P Moore leveraged over a decade of experience focused on achieving reductions of embodied carbon in the built environment contributing to the design and development of the EC3 tool. “We are excited to engage as a Pilot Partner and Sponsor to help steer the development of the EC3 tool. Developing a robust database of Environmental Product Declarations will allow design and construction teams to make better-informed sourcing decisions,” says Dirk Kestner, PE LEED AP BD+C, Director of Sustainable Design for Walter P Moore. “Our early engagement and use of the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator assisted in shaping the tool so that it can be used in a wide range of locations and project types.”

The building and construction sector have a vital role to play in eliminating carbon, as it is responsible for nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Architecture 2030 reports that between now and 2060 the world’s population will be doubling the amount of building floor-space, equivalent to building an entire New York City every month for 40 years. Much of the carbon footprint of these new buildings will take the form of embodied carbon—the emissions associated with material production and building construction.

In fact, Architecture 2030 and materialsCAN report that embodied carbon will be responsible for almost half of total new construction emissions between now and 2050. Unlike operational carbon emissions, which can be reduced over time with building energy efficiency renovations and the use of renewable energy, embodied carbon emissions are locked in place as soon as a building is built.

“It is critical that owners, designers, engineers, contractors, and policymakers turn their attention to building materials and seek information that will pave the way to reduce embodied carbon,” says Kate Simonen, director of the Carbon Leadership Forum and professor in the College of the Built Environments at the University of Washington. “Recognizing this imperative, the Carbon Leadership Forum and nearly 50 industry leaders came together to offer their expertise, committed to a tool that was free to use and part of a growing open-access embodied carbon data ecosystem.”

“As an architect and designer, it’s empowering to know that specifying materials for large projects has the potential to reduce the dangerous effects CO2 has on the Earth’s climate. The EC3 tool is enabling us to make informed product decisions and become part of the solution to climate change. As large firms like Perkins and Will adopt the EC3 tool into our standard design process, we hope to drive the building industry to evolve, giving preference to innovative manufacturers who offer low-carbon and carbon-positive products,” adds Devin Kleiner, Senior Project Architect, Senior Associate and Sustainability Leader for Perkins and Will.

EC3 Tool Highlights

  • Digital decision-making tool to inform construction material assessment and “buy” decisions aligned with embodied carbon project performance goals.
  • Free, open-source web tool allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront emissions associated with manufacturing building materials and construction
  • Utilizes building materials quantities from construction estimates and/or BIM models and a robust database of building materials products sortable by embodied carbon. Database is based on third party verified, digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).
  • Centralizes information from a multiplicity of suppliers.
  • Powered by the data, the EC3 tool can be implemented in both the design and procurement phases of a construction project to look at a project’s overall embodied carbon emissions and potential savings, as well as sort and evaluate material manufacturers’ embodied carbon emissions in each category, enabling the specification and procurement of the lowest carbon options.
  • Owners, green building certification systems and policymakers can easily asses supply chain data to create EPD requirements, and set embodied carbon limits and reductions, at the construction material and project scale.
  • The tool and its subsequent effect on the industry is driving demand for low-carbon solutions and incentivizing construction materials manufacturers and suppliers to invest in disclosure, transparency and material innovations that reduce the carbon emissions of their products.
  • The EC3 tool is an industry tool, built by and for the entire industry. Data entered by each respective company in their individual Building Planner is secure and confidential.
  • The EC3 tool is built with industry stakeholder input and will continue to evolve in order to meet user needs and incorporate improving data and methods.


Visit buildingtransparency.org and register to have access to the EC3 tool.