Co-creating solutions to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint

11/25/2019 3:45 PM CET

As buildings and the construction industry generate among the largest portions of carbon emissions globally, new collaborations are essential for creating solutions to help realize a carbon-neutral future. The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool is a new platform conceived of and co-created by Skanska and developed in partnership with the Carbon Leadership Forum and nearly 50 industry partners. 

The free and easy to use tool allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials, empowering users to reduce embodied carbon with buildings at scale.

Between the years 2015 and 2050, two trillion square feet of buildings are expected to be built or undergo a significant renovation, which is equivalent of every month building an entire New York City, according to Architecture 2030.

There are two ways buildings are responsible for emitting carbon: during the construction phase and then in the operational phase when people are living and working in them. The carbon emissions related to the construction phase are referred to as embodied carbon, and the emissions related to the operations of a building as operational carbon.

For many years, the building industry has focused on operational carbon, and has become quite skilled as reducing its impacts, such as through energy saving measures like advanced cooling systems and facades. Only recently has embodied carbon received greater focus, in part because of new tools that make solutions for it more feasible.

Innovating a tool to solve this carbon challenge

One of these new tools is the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool. Skanska conceived of the EC3 tool concept, and co-created the tool with technology developer C Change Labs and with seed funding from both Skanska USA and Microsoft, who together determined that a collaborative, open-source solution was the optimal path toward maximizing the impact of this groundbreaking tool in reducing global carbon emissions. The tool was then incubated by the Carbon Leadership Forum , with strong support from the Charles Pankow Foundation, MKA Foundation, Interface, Autodesk, and in partnership with nearly 50 industry leaders.

The free, open-access EC3 tool can be implemented in both the design and procurement phases of a construction project to look at a project's overall embodied carbon emissions and potential savings, as well as sort and evaluate material manufacturers’ embodied carbon emissions in each category, enabling the specification and procurement of the lowest-carbon options.

"This is one great example of how businesses can come together to create solutions to reduce the industry's carbon footprint. Innovations and partnerships like this are important for Skanska to reach our Group climate target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2045" says Lena Hök, Skanska Group Senior Vice President of Sustainability.

Public Beta Tool Launched at Greenbuild

On November 19, 2019 at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo the public beta EC3 tool was launched. Users could sign up for access and visitors could see demos of the tool at the Skanska USA booth.

"Until now, the building industry in the US has not had a way to assess our supply chain through the lens of their carbon impact. Not only does the EC3 tool leverage how we naturally plan and estimate our work, it allows us to build for a better society by empowering our industry to reduce its carbon footprint and create a more sustainable future," says Stacey Smedley, a regional director of sustainability at Skanska USA and initiator of the project.

Read more about the tool in this press release.

Lena Hök
Senior Vice President Sustainability

Stacey Smedley
Director of Environmental Management
Skanska USA