Carbon and the Building Enclosure

Why Every Decision Matters Toward Decarbonization
Provided by Building Enclosure

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss various forms of carbon and their effects on building and design.
  2. Identify how to properly report carbon emissions.
  3. Define a whole-building embodied carbon workflow.
  4. Describe greenhouse gas emissions by scope.


As an IACET Accredited Provider, BNP Media offers IACET CEUs for its learning events that comply with the ANSI/IACET Continuing Education and Training Standard.

Below are a set of links to articles from Building Enclosure. Click on each link below to read the articles and then complete the quiz to earn your credit and certificate of completion.

In 2006, Architecture 2030 issued The 2030 Challenge, asking the global architecture and building community to adopt aggressive targets such that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations would be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard below the regional (or country) average/median for that building type by a percent threshold that becomes more stringent every five years. The goal being that by the year 2030, the percent threshold would be 100 percent below the baseline average/median. Since then, the industry has responded. This course will go over decarbonization, its effects on the built environment and why we should be more consistent when reporting carbon emissions.

Carbon Dioxide Levels and Indoor Environmental Quality
Data suggest many of us dwell in buildings that fail to meet acceptable ventilation rates by today's best practices. A recent study suggests that increasing ventilation in our buildings such that carbon dioxide levels are kept at/under 600 ppm may result in significantly improved cognitive function.
Daniel Overbey

Biogenic Carbon Explained
Carbon is not inherently detrimental to the environment—quite the contrary. The carbon cycle is essential for life as we know it. The challenge we are facing is that an unprecedented level of carbon has become released and suspended in the earth's atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, which impedes the expulsion of long-wave thermal energy out of the earth's orbit.
Daniel Overbey

We Should Be More Consistent When Reporting a Building's Carbon Emissions
As the industry has shifted focus to considerations and calculations of carbon dioxide as a proxy for assessing greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector, it’s much more difficult to contextualize units of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per unit of floor area. We have a carbon equivalent of an EUI. Now, we need to be more aware, explicit, and consistent regarding the units we are using for operational and embodied carbon.
Daniel Overbey

Going for Zero Carbon? Do Not Forget About Transportation
The definition of a zero carbon building will continue to evolve. However, even with the emergence of electric vehicles in a broad consumer market, it is clear that any holistic assessment of a building's greenhouse gas emissions should include the CO2e value of transportation—a value that may proportionately increase as we decarbonize our building stock.
Daniel Overbey

Quantifying the Carbon Sequestration of Trees
Trees are a tremendous carbon sink and may contribute significantly to reducing the lifecycle carbon intensity of any site development. Better yet, we have the tools to quantify the carbon sequestration potential of trees.
Daniel Overbey

Greenhouse Gas Emission by Scope
With the emergence of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting, companies are working rigorously to identify, assess, and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. So, what counts as greenhouse gas emissions?
Daniel Overbey

Embodied Carbon and the Shearing Layers of Change
As the building design and construction industry reckons with the emerging imperative to dramatically reduce the embodied carbon of our buildings, might we reconcile the notion that our buildings are constantly changing—but the rate at which the change occurs generally correlates with certain interrelated "layers" of our buildings? Brand and others have referred to these as the "shearing layers" of change.
Daniel Overbey

Defining a Whole-Building Embodied Carbon Workflow
With the increasing awareness of the embodied carbon impact of the built environment on global warming potential, a variety of tools and resources have emerged in the marketplace. Perhaps it is not clear which tools should be used when—or how a comprehensive approach to embodied carbon modeling might look from one project stage to the next.
Daniel Overbey

Benefits of Tracking and Reporting Embodied Carbon
It is time for building design professionals to track and report the embodied carbon of their projects. Embodied carbon refers to the carbon dioxide emitted during the manufacture, transport and construction of buildings materials, together with end-of-life emissions.
Daniel Overbey

LCA Stages Matter When Tracking Embodied Carbon
Research suggests that buildings are responsible for about 39 percent of global CO₂ emissions. Unlike operational carbon, which can be reduced throughout a building’s lifetime, embodied carbon is locked in as soon as a building is constructed. As such, tracking embodied carbon is critical.
Daniel Overbey

Photo Courtesy of Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay


Building Enclosure Building Enclosure covers the best architecture practices for the building envelope in the commercial and residential building & construction industry. Also covering the latest building codes and details, Building Enclosure strives to provide the crucial information you need for your business—when, how and where you want it. The digital magazine and this comprehensive website, combined with monthly CEU webinars live and on demand, provide an invaluable technical resource for engineers, architects, consultants and other professionals in the building industry.


Originally published in June 2023