The world is slowly waking up to the role that reducing embodied carbon in construction must play to address the challenge of climate change, and the industry is moving steadily in this direction on a number of fronts. Heather Clancy reviews examples of advances in areas such as prefabrication, the use of mass timber, production of less carbon-intensive cement and ways to accurately measure environmental impact.



There is no shortage of companies touting the climate benefits of smart, operational control systems that fine-tune the energy performance of the built environment. Many of my first articles for GreenBiz a decade ago focused on this topic.Eep.) The argument is compelling, and you’ve doubtless heard the rationale many, many times: The structures in which we work, play, shop, eat, heal, love and sleep account for something like 40 percent of global emissions. (Not small.)

There has been less focus, historically, on earlier stages of the building life cycle, especially the construction phase. But over the past year, more investors, startups and real estate companies have lent their pens toward drawing a blueprint for reducing embodied carbon — the emissions surrounding building materials and construction techniques.

Indeed, London-based venture capital firm A/O PropTech reports that funding for companies focused on green building design, materials procurement and lower-carbon construction methods reached $2.2 billion this year — a record level.”We are in the early innings of this transformation, but the tailwinds are growing strong … The world is slowly but surely waking up to the realization that unless we fix the built world,

we will not solve the climate crisis,” said Gregory Dewerpe, founder and chief investment officer of A/O PropTech. According to the firm’s research, embodied carbon could account for half of total emissions related to the built world by 2035 — about double the estimates for its current impact, according to an analysis by McKinsey.