Our team has gotten pretty good at both modelling, and measuring the energy that our buildings use. This is what we refer to as the Operational Carbon Emissions (OCE) of a building. However, it’s not enough to just focus on the operational carbon. Instead we have to assess the overall Carbon Use Intensity (CUI) of a building. The missing piece is estimating the Material Carbon Emissions (MCE), also referred to as embodied carbon emissions, that are emitted during the making of the materials and building.
We have extensively tested a number of carbon estimators, and while there is a lot of great ones out there, BEAM from Builders for Climate Action meets our current project needs while helping us achieve our immediate goals. We have been implementing the tool on a majority of our projects at this point to collect data and lower the CUI of our buildings.
BEAM, which stands for Building Emissions Accounting for Materials, is conveniently formatted as a Google sheet. BEAM’s database includes a large variety of US and Canadian materials, which allow you to build your custom assemblies per component. If you ever notice a missing material, you can easily submit additional Environmental Produce Declarations (EPDs) through their support feature.
The results show a breakdown of MCE per assembly type. BEAM also ranks your Material Carbon Intensity (MCI = MCE per square meter) and compares it to desirable budgets. While the tool is offered for free, we encourage you to donate alongside us to allow Builders for Climate Action to continue their great work!
If you are curious about some of our projects and what carbon budgets we are establishing, take a look at our recent BOG presentation!