Pacific Coast Leaders Release Strategy for Building More with Less Carbon

Today, the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) released its Vision and Action Plan to promote a regional low-carbon construction sector that promotes equity-centered policies, job creation, and regional markets.

Buildings are responsible for at least 39% of global energy-related carbon emissions each year, and 11% comes from embodied carbon. Embodied carbon is the term for the collective greenhouse gas emissions of a building, road, or other form of infrastructure throughout its lifecycle from manufacture, transport, and installation of materials to the end of its useful life.

The Action Plan released today was prepared by the PCC’s Low Carbon Construction Task Force. In 2021, Pacific Coast leaders convened at COP26 in Glasgow to announce the launch of the Task Force, a joint effort to advance low-carbon materials and methods in building and construction projects. The Task Force was charged with creating a shared strategy to accelerate innovation, investment, and market development for low-carbon materials by leveraging the scale of the Pacific Coast regional economy.

The Vision and Action Plan outlines three pathways along with strategies and actions that will move the Pacific Coast region toward the vision of reducing embodied carbon through low-carbon construction.

  • Pathway 1: Build regional demand for low-carbon construction
  • Pathway 2: Encourage growth of regional supply of low-carbon construction materials and services
  • Pathway 3: Build strategic partnerships

Recognizing the need to increase both supply of and demand for low-carbon materials, the plan acknowledges the role governments play in creating codes, policies, and programs that influence the extent to which private businesses, material manufacturers, architects, designers, engineers, building owners, and other stakeholders can shift markets and industry standards towards low-carbon construction practices.

The Action Plan complements and strengthens building decarbonization efforts already underway in Pacific Coast cities, states, and the province of British Columbia.

Washington has strong laws and codes on the books for reducing emissions from the state’s fastest-growing source of climate pollution—building operations.  The state is working to reduce emissions from the embodied carbon in building materials, with legislators considering a Buy Clean and Buy Fair policy that would begin to account for embodied carbon in state building construction projects. Washington is also joining forces with other states and the federal government to address embodied carbon and advance low-carbon construction as part of the Federal-State Buy Clean Partnership. “Many people don’t realize the places where we live, learn and work are among our biggest sources of carbon emissions,” said Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. “As we see the ravages of climate change around us, we can no longer ask ‘if’ we should look for ways to decarbonize our buildings, we have to ask ‘how’ and ‘how fast.’ These low-carbon construction strategies are an important part of that effort.”

“Recent weather events have shown us the importance of reducing emissions, and by working with our partners in the Pacific Coast Collaborative to accelerate the use of low carbon construction materials like mass timber, we’ll continue building a more sustainable future,” said Jagrup Brar, Minister of State for Trade, and Chair of the Mass Timber Advisory Council. “B.C.’s history of bold steps in building innovation has positioned us as a worldwide leader in sustainable mass timber construction, and our Mass Timber Action Plan will continue establishing our province, and the Pacific Northwest, as a global mass timber hub that supports good, innovative jobs and climate-smart building.”

Oakland, California Mayor Sheng Thao said “Oakland is committed to demonstrating its environmental leadership in ways that create jobs and strengthen our communities. Working with our fellow West Coast leaders, we will use this Action Plan to provide more housing at lower cost, help incubate and grow our clean technology companies, and reduce our planet-warming emissions.  This is a win for our climate and our city.”

“Climate action can propel economic progress; paving the way for a prosperous future,” said Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Partnering with Pacific Coast Collaborative to promote low-carbon construction practices is directly aligned with the City’s Climate Action Plan. This work creates green jobs and encourages innovative ideas and practices for the future of construction. We are proud of this partnership and continued efforts to build a resilient climate and economy for all.”

“The buildings we live and work in are one of the leading drivers of climate change. By teaming up with the Pacific Coast Collaborative, we’re positioning Oregon to tackle carbon emissions from buildings head-on. Together, we’re building the regional green economy and shaping the next chapter on environmental leadership.” said Leah Feldon, Director of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality.

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