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April 15, 2024

Advancing the LCA Ecosystem: A Policy-Focused Roadmap for Reducing Embodied Carbon

Lewis, M., Waldman, B., Carlisle, S., Benke, B., and Simonen, K. (2023). Advancing the LCA Ecosystem: A Policy-Focused Roadmap for Reducing Embodied Carbon. Carbon Leadership Forum, University of Washington. Seattle, WA.

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Policy action on embodied carbon is growing quickly. 2021-2023 has seen an unprecedented number of introduced and passed policies targeting embodied carbon reductions in the building and infrastructure sectors in the US, Canada, and internationally. Policies aimed at reducing the embodied carbon of building and infrastructure projects and construction materials typically leverage life cycle assessment (LCA) as a methodology to measure the impacts of a product or project and compare them against a percentage reduction target or embodied carbon performance standard (i.e., global warming potential (GWP) limit).

The effectiveness of policies in reducing embodied carbon relies on the health of the underlying LCA ecosystem – the standards, guidelines, data sources, tools, and actors/organizations that constitute the interdependent building blocks of LCA – to create consistent, reliable estimates of embodied carbon to report and benchmark products and projects.