California First in the Nation to Limit Embodied Carbon in Buildings

California’s Building Code accomplished a first-in-the-nation step to mitigate carbon emissions from the construction and maintenance of buildings, by limiting embodied carbon in some commercial and school buildings.

1 minute read

August 14, 2023, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

California State Capital

cmshepard / Shutterstock

[Updated August 15, 2023] The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) and the Division of the State Architect (DSA) recently adopted new building codes that set a new standard in the United States. 

According to a press release from the AIA California, California is now the first state set general code standards “to limit embodied carbon emissions in the construction, remodel, or adaptive reuse of commercial buildings larger than 100,000 sq feet and school projects over 50,000 sq ft.”

“In making these changes, California becomes the first state in the nation to set general code standards that require the reduction of embodied carbon emissions in the design and building process applicable to both commercial buildings and schools,” adds the press release.

An article by Dan Roche for the Architect’s Newspaper adds additional insight into the accomplishment, explain that “embodied carbon refers to greenhouse gas emissions that emerge from building materials over their entire life cycle, this includes in manufacturing, transport, installation, upkeep, disassembly, and discarding.”

Representatives from AIA California first proposed the code changes in 2019, reports Roche.

“California follows Norway’s lead which has become a thought leader in embodied carbon discourse. FutureBuilt, a pilot program sponsored by the Norwegian government, is committed to cutting the country’s embodied carbon emissions in half,” adds Roche.

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