Carbon Counting: Balancing Operating and Embodied Carbon in Facade Design

The building industry contributes as much as 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions from operating (e.g. heating/cooling, lighting) and embodied (e.g. building material extraction, transport, manufacturing) impacts. Embodied impacts account for 25% these emissions today. However, for new energy efficient buildings in regions with low carbon electrical grids such as Seattle, they can account for well over 50% of the impacts of a building between now and 2050. Facade systems include many carbon intensive materials such as glass, aluminum, and insulation. This session will identify strategies to reduce the embodied impacts of building facades in the context of the whole life cycle of a building, addressing issues such as estimating the embodied carbon of facades, how purchasing power can be used to drive towards lower carbon options, and how design decisions can influence up-front and full-life carbon emissions attributed to the building enclosure.


Kate Simonen, AIA, SE, LEEP AP

Founding Director, Carbon Leadership Forum

Stacy Smedley, LEED BD+C

Director of Sustainability, Skanska

Kjell Anderson, AIA, LEED Fellow

Director of Sustainable Design, LMN Architects

Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP+

Ambassador of Innovation & Collaboration, Facade Tectonics Institute