Published research from local institutes to international panels are stating the importance of reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050. Currently, building construction accounts for over 10% of CO2 emissions, with many of those emissions contributed from structural materials like steel, concrete, and timber. Additionally, according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction’s 2019 Global Status Report, the global building stock is set to double by 2050. Therefore quite the challenge is presented to structural engineers to achieve net-zero carbon buildings to meet societal needs by 2050. To address this challenge, the Structural Engineering Institute’s Sustainability Committee has recently published a white paper titled: “Achieving Net Zero Embodied Carbon in Structural Material by 2050.”
The white paper examines in detail four transition tracks that make achieving net-zero embodied carbon in the built environment possible. The four transition tracks are:
1) Design Improvements
2) Greening the Electrical Grid
3) Material Production Improvements
4) Carbon Offsets
These four tracks may be combined in various proportions to reach net-zero, as shown in the table below.
The Carbon Working Group encourages structural engineers, architects, contractors, and others who wonder how the construction industry can meet critical carbon emission reduction targets to read this paper. It is available for free download at the SEI Sustainability Committee’s website: https://seisustainability.org/.