Around the globe, GHG emissions resulting from the construction value chain is reported to be directly or indirectly responsible for almost 40 percent of global CO₂ emissions from fuel combustion and 25 percent of GHG emissions overall.
GHG emissions from the construction ecosystem are mainly driven by two components: raw-material processing for buildings and infrastructure (about 30 percent of total construction emissions per year, largely cement and steel) and buildings operations (about 70 percent). With roughly 80 percent of the predicted building stock for 2050 already in existence today, there is an immediate need to retrofit existing assets.
One of the primary feedstocks for building and infrastructure construction is cement which is used in concrete and accounts for approximately 8% of global carbon emissions, with the ingredient “clinker” accounting for most of it. Global demand for cement has seen unprecedented growth primarily from China. In fact, China used more concrete between 2011 and 2013 than the United States did in the entire 20th century and global demand is expected to increase 48% from 4.2bn to 6.2bn tons by 2050, mainly driven by developing nations.
The Dynamic Sustainability Lab is working with governments as well as the financial, construction and transportation sectors to evaluate alternative materials and designs as well as being at the forefront of exploring a first-generation Carbon Intensity Label for Construction and Building Materials.
Just in the residential construction sector in the United States, if we used one-to-one material substitutions available today, emissions reductions of 50%–75% are now possible, a 25 to 37 Mt reduction sector-wide. This is equivalent to removing 5 to 8 million gas-powered vehicles from the road for a year.
Sources: McKinsey (2021); RMI (2023); UNEP (2023).
In the News
Dr. Golden will be giving the Keynote Address to the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) on September 10th regarding the Building & Construction Industries & the Net-Zero Transition including the recent development of Ecolabels.
dr. jay golden
The Dynamic Sustainability Lab is currently updating the attached one of the first of its kind reports on Ecolabels developed by Dr. Golden and partners. The current updated work is focused on materials for a net-zero carbon transition in building, construction, manufacturing as well as biobased/agricultural feedstocks with an accompanying web-based database.
CONSTRUCTION & BUILDING MATERIALS FOR CLIMATE & ENERGY
dr. jay golden
One of the nation's early reports (369 pages with great illustrations) by Dr. Golden provides policy makers science based recommendations to implement strategies to reduce climate and energy impacts from infrastructure, construction, and building materials with a focus on urban areas.
PIZZA HUT & DSL PARTNER ON DESIGNS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE RESTAURANT OF THE FUTURE
The Dynamic Sustainability Lab is working with Sustainability and Design leaders at Pizza Hut in developing building and construction materials and designs for a new generation of sustainable restaurants - More to Come.