A02 - How Much Carbon is in Your Cyclical Renovations?

Wednesday, November 20 from 11:15 AM to 12:15 PM | B211 « Back

Abstract Text:

While Interiors seems only a fraction of a new building’s overall embodied carbon, interior renovations recur frequently, often at 5-25-year intervals. Embodied carbon calculations for a new building typically prioritize structure and envelope, which last on average between 60-120 years. Interior renovations, however, can recur 5-10 times during that same span of time. How much does the interiors of a building impact the overall building embodied carbon over its lifespan, and how can we design to reduce the embodied carbon that compounds through frequent renovations?

This session will begin with original research by the panel – an architect, an interior designer and a contractor – on the embodied carbon impact of interior renovations over the lifetime of a building. Interior planning and construction are often renovated due to changing social, generational, technological, organizational and aesthetic priorities, and not necessarily due of products wearing out or failing. If products are replaced regardless of how long they last (“it uglies out before it wears out”), reducing embodied carbon means something different than it does for structure and envelope systems.

Attendees will have the opportunity to work through a simulated whole building life cycles game that demonstrates how recurring renovations impact a building’s overall embodied carbon. Next, the session will explore tools and approaches available to help quantify and reduce interior finishes and materials embodied carbon, through concepts such as circulation economy, design for deconstruction, design for adaptability, take-back programs (that work!), upcycling and biomimicry. Industry success stories and lessons learned will be shared to inspire attendees to find ways to reduce carbon impact on their own projects. Attendees will be able to exchange their own insights and come up with new ideas through group discussions. This session is sponsored by The Home Depot

Learning Objectives:

Understand the embodied carbon impact of a new building at point of occupancy.

Understand the embodied carbon impact of a building after cyclical renovations.

Be familiar with current tools and approaches for quantifying and reducing embodied carbon compounded through renovations.

Be able to come up with new ways of reducing carbon impact of interior renovations.

Learning Level:



Home Depot


GBCI Credit Hours:
AIA Credit Hours:
IDCEC hours:

Education Tracks: Carbon|Materials|Circularity

Event Type: Conference Session > Session