The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has released a roadmap that it says charts a path for federal buildings projects to achieve zero embodied carbon emissions by 2050.
Emissions standards can feasibly be set by the federal government to zero or “carbon-positive” levels, creating a framework for agencies to build carbon-storing projects by 2045, RMI says. Federal whole-project embodied carbon emissions standards could directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a cumulative 17 million tons of CO2 by 2050—equivalent to removing 3.6 million gas-powered cars from the road for a year.
By enacting embodied carbon emissions standards, the federal government could catalyze markets for disruptive, deeply decarbonized materials, such as zero-carbon cement, zero-carbon steel, mass timber, or bio-based insulation. Concrete and steel represent more than 60% of embodied carbon emissions for US federal buildings, according to RMI.
RMI’s plan would also embrace climate-smart portfolio planning that calculates the embodied carbon value of preservation, renovation, and adaptive reuse of existing buildings. In addition, the plan includes whole project embodied carbon performance standards benchmarking of buildings.