The World Green Building Council directly addressed the building industry during New York’s Climate Week and the UN Climate Action Summit, revealing a goal of achieving 100 percent net-zero emissions buildings by 2050.

The Bringing embodied carbon upfront report, released 23 September, indicates that when “embodied carbon” is compared to operational carbon, it is found that buildings are responsible for 39 percent of global carbon emissions.

The council announced its intention to set into motion plans to accomplish its goal of slashing embodied carbon by 40 percent by 2030 and achieving net zero embodied carbon by 2050, in addition to established net zero operational carbon goals.

Carbon emissions, the report states, are released during both the operational existence of a building and throughout the course of the manufacturing, transportation, construction and end of life phases. These emissions, called embodied carbon, have not been widely discussed but contribute about 11 percent of global carbon emissions.

The report declares that as operational carbon is reduced, embodied carbon will increase in importance.

Cristina Gamboa, World Green Building Council CEO, says that the report focuses on solutions that will impel the reduction of upfront emissions in buildings and construction—at the same time demanding action from carbon intensive industries and materials producers.

The ultimate goal is to cut embodied carbon by 40 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero embodied carbon by 2050, as well as achieving established net zero operational carbon goals.

The report suggests a plan action for architects, manufacturers and governments to quicken decarbonisation. It summons design companies to introduce low embodied carbon design into all projects by 2020, sharing lifecycle assessment data by the year 2025 and requiring that all projects be 100 percent net zero embodied carbon from the year 2035.

The report suggests the need for a radical shift in the manner in which industry entities collaborate to facilitate a market transformation.

The report also identified projects that are addressing the issue of embodied carbon. Integrating mass timber into their projects are 25 King Street by Bates Smart, Australia’s tallest engineered timber office building, and International House Sydney by Tzannes.

The report also commended national “roadmaps” that concern embodied carbon emissions being issued in Finland, Norway and Sweden, calling for more roadmaps around the world.

The goal, says Gamboa, is to transform the built environment for the good of people and the planet.