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Greater emphasis on building materials needed to achieve net-zero carbon offices

Codes and Standards

Greater emphasis on building materials needed to achieve net-zero carbon offices

Engineered wood, straw, and bamboo can be keys to achieving goal.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | January 18, 2022
Wood building materials

Courtesy Pixabay

Choosing building materials wisely is critical for companies looking to build net-zero carbon offices, according to researchers at Canada’s Ryerson University.

In 2020, the extraction, transport, and manufacturing of building sector materials accounted for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers say. “If buildings are to make meaningful contributions to keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, limiting emissions from building materials is crucial,” they say.

In recent years, designers and contractors have made great strides in energy efficiency, on-site heating and cooling, waste reduction, and recycling. Building materials present a newer opportunity for office projects to reduce their carbon footprint.

Construction of Walmart’s new home office in Bentonville, Ark., expected to be completed by 2025, offers an example of what can be accomplished using bio-based building materials. The retail giant’s corporate campus is the largest underway in the U.S. It will use mass timber including large engineered structural wooden panels.

In order to gain the most environmental benefit, materials must be sourced from sustainable supply chains. Building office towers with timber can be counterproductive if large amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted during logging, transport, and manufacture of wood products.

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