California becomes first state to codify embodied carbon reduction for buildings

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California Construction News staff writer

California is the first state to set general code standards requiring the reduction of embodied carbon emissions in the design and building process, applicable to both commercial buildings and schools.

Two building code changes have been approved by the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC), limiting embodied carbon emissions in the construction, remodel, or adaptive reuse of commercial buildings larger than 9,290 sq. m. (100,000 sq. ft.) and school projects with more than 4,645 sq. m. (50,000 sq. ft.) These statewide changes will be in effect as of July 1, 2024.

Embodied carbon refers to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from building materials over their life cycles, which includes manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, decommissioning, and disposal.

AIA California will develop and host programs to expand awareness and the implementation of the code changes for design professionals, collaterals, and partners in the building industry and beyond.

AIA California president Scott Gaudineer says the changes “codify a cultural shift”.

“It can take up to 80 years to overcome embodied carbon’s impact through strategies that reduce energy usage or operational carbon; the planet doesn’t have that time.”

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