Strategies for Reducing Construction’s Carbon Impact

By: Julianna Plant

By now, this staggering number will be familiar to many: 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings—constructing them, running them and retiring them. These are the places where we work, learn, heal, discover life-saving cures and govern. But they also play an outsized role in changing the climate.

In the past couple of decades, the A/E/C industry has made huge strides to curb the impacts and help new commercial buildings operate more efficiently. Net-zero energy and high-performance buildings have become commonplace. The result is that operational-carbon emissions linked to buildings across the U.S. have fallen by a third since 2005, even as the volume of buildings has grown.

But collectively, we can do much more to stem the tide and reduce the embodied carbon generated during the construction of new buildings or avoid generating as much by renovating existing buildings.

Read more in the Seattle DJC’s 2024 Earth Week special section.