Sustainable Growth Coalition hosts deconstruction tour and embodied carbon learning lab

A recent study revealed that embodied carbon – the emissions generated from the raw material extraction, manufacturing, transportation, construction and disposal of building materials – accounts for roughly 11% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Practitioners in the building industry are interested in promoting designs that minimize embodied carbon, yet navigating this issue with industry professionals can still be challenging.

To delve deeper into reduction strategies, the Sustainable Growth Coalition hosted an embodied carbon deep dive on September 21. Panelists discussed unique challenges for dealing with embodied carbon in the Upper Midwest, opportunities for improving emissions with environmental product declarations, as well as the equity improvements that result from building decarbonization.

Afterwards, members participated in a tour of Pillsbury Castle led by Petrina Rhines, founder and executive director of Birch Group and Scrapbox Salvage Company. The tour highlighted deconstruction as a means to reuse and preserve elements of older buildings instead of demolishing them. Though the process is seen as a more expensive option, Rhines highlighted how tax write-offs can make deconstruction an affordable environmental benefit.

Four members of the Sustainable Growth Coalition stand in the entryway of Pillsbury Castle.
Four members of the Sustainable Growth Coalition stand in the entryway of Pillsbury Castle.

Learning lab speakers

  • Richard Graves, Associate Professor, Architecture; Research Director, Center for Sustainable Building Research, College of Design – University of Minnesota
  • Beth Tomlinson, Carbon and Climate Discipline Leader, Buildings – Stantec

Tools and resources

Below are links to resources from the embodied carbon learning lab.

The Sustainable Growth Coalition is a business-led partnership harnessing their expertise to equitably advance the circular economy. The coalition is convened by Environmental Initiative.