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New Tool Will Help Construction Industry Understand its Carbon Footprint
While transportation and electricity are the biggest sources of carbon emissions, construction also represents a major source of greenhouse gases.

That doesn’t just mean the carbon produced by generators and machinery. The embodied carbon within materials is a major carbon creator, too; cement alone could be responsible for 8% of the world’s total carbon emissions.

One approach might be to use materials with less embodied carbon in them. But that can be a difficult proposition when construction materials contain embodied carbon by way of their physical constituents as well as the effort used to assemble them into workable form.

Skanska hopes to change that, with the public release of their “Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator,” or EC3, this month. The calculator represents an open-source solution to the problem of embodied carbon, developed by Skanska and climate change tech company C Change Labs, and funded by Skanska and Microsoft. At its core, EC3 is a materials database that includes information on physical properties and characteristics as well as embodied carbon. It currently includes more than 16,000 different materials.

Understanding embodied carbon is an important step in limiting carbon emissions, particularly for companies like Skanska, that are signatories to climate change agreements. There’s a real opportunity for these tools to help visualize and consequently decrease carbon emissions even when they might be hard to detect.

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