At last month’s Global Climate Action Summit, Microsoft announced it is the first large corporate user of a new tool to track carbon emissions associated with raw building materials. The technology giant is piloting the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator in the remodel of its 72-acre Seattle campus.

The tool, called EC3, is open-source and free to all users. It runs on Microsoft Azure and was developed by Skanska USA Building Inc., with the University of Washington Carbon Leadership Forum, Interface and C-Change Labs (ENR 7/23-30 p. 14) .

At the Sept. 11 Carbon Smart Building Day, which preceded the Sept. 12-14 San Francisco summit, Ed Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030, introduced the Carbon Smart Materials Palette, which contains an attribute-based approach to embodied carbon reductions in the built environment.

Annually, embodied carbon is responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 28% of global buildings sector emissions, said Mazria. “As we trend toward zero operational emissions, the impact of embodied emissions becomes increasingly significant,” he added.

On the building operations side, regarding carbon emissions, Architecture 2030 has set a goal of prompting a decarbonized buildings sector by 2050. Toward that, the group recently issued a Zero Net Carbon Energy Standard. The document is a national and international building standard for new construction that integrates cost-effective energy-efficiency standards with on-site and off-site renewable energy, resulting in zero-net-carbon buildings.

“We are running out of time,” said Mazria. “We have to act really fast. Every effort must be scalable.”