Construction emissions include raw material extraction, manufacturing, material transport, and onsite installation. While Construction is not a discrete category defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, at Stanford, we have opted to measure and address it as its own category of emissions.
Construction emissions are best measured on a project by project basis by performing a whole building life cycle assessment (WBLCA) to quantify embodied carbon in the building. To that end, Stanford’s Department of Project Management now requires a WBLCA for all new construction and major renovation projects. As part of that process, project managers work with consultants to set an embodied carbon baseline for each new project that is based on the current industry average. Then, a target carbon metric is set for the building and assessed periodically throughout the design & construction process.
Stanford has set a goal to reduce embodied carbon by 20% from baseline for each major project based on a study of three recently constructed buildings conducted in 2022. The study revealed that building reuse (such as opting to retrofit an existing building instead of building a new one), design optimizations (such as constructing a wood-framed building instead of a steel-framed building), and material optimizations (such as procuring low emissions concrete, steel, and flooring materials) are all effective strategies to reduce embodied carbon in a new project.