Integrating Embodied Carbon Knowledge for Design Decisions: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Measuring energy consumption of buildings is well established, and techniques to evaluate the carbon associated with operating buildings are improving. Embodied carbon of buildings is more complex as it considers the release of carbon throughout the building material supply chain and building material end of life fate. Decisions made early during the design and construction of the building can influence and potentially reduce the embodied carbon of buildings. The design and construction communities are uniquely positioned to make decisions that reduce embodied carbon. The objective of this project is to understand barriers to low carbon design and delivery and to point the design and construction communities to useful resources that will result in decisions that reduce embodied carbon. The outcomes of this work include educational resources that familiarize designers and contractors with embodied carbon and life cycle assessments (LCA), case studies that focus on design changes from LCA results, an overview of LCA tools, and examples of readily available, cost-effective design and construction steps to lower embodied carbon. We present an evaluation of existing resources, organized in a decision tree guidance, and identify gaps for further resource development. Through this evaluation process we investigated ways to streamline the process of identifying barriers to implementing solutions quickly.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings - Pacific Grove, California
Duration: 21 Aug 202226 Aug 2022


Conference2022 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
CityPacific Grove, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-83204


  • design professional decisions
  • embodied carbon
  • zero carbon buildings


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