The concept of “decarbonization” has been in vogue recently in political speeches and global environmental events, but it has not yet gained enough attention in the field of architecture to profoundly change the way we design and construct the world of tomorrow. Buildings are currently responsible for 33% of global energy consumption and 39% of greenhouse gas emissions, indicating that architects must play a significant role if we are to stop or reverse climate change. With carbon acting as a universally agreed upon metric with which the greenhouse gas emissions of a building can be tracked , one of the most important ways through which this goal can be achieved is therefore the decarbonization of buildings. Decarbonization encompasses the reduction of both operational carbon and embodied carbon, which refer to carbon emissions in the use stage and over the entire life cycle of a building respectively. This life cycle encapsulates extraction, transportation, installation, use, and end of life for every material and furnishing, and is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 28% of global building sector emissions . Initiatives such as the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, which launched at the Global Climate Action Summit in 2018, promote the global reduction of operational carbon through calls to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions released on an annual basis to zero or negative . Other initiatives, such as the U.S.’s Carbon Leadership Forum, emphasize the importance of decreasing embodied carbon as well, citing projections that the world’s building floorspace will double by 2060 as a sign of its importance .
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