G08 - Reuse or Build New? A Tale of Two Carbon Footprints

Friday, November 10 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM | 254AB « Back

Abstract Text:

In light of ever-growing building stock and increasing atmospheric carbon, architects are taking leadership roles on new construction projects, and finding new value in existing buildings. While operational metrics are increasingly available, the environmental impact of construction and materials (embodied impacts) has been difficult to capture and quantify— leading architects to make decisions based on one-sided data. Improved tools now provide life cycle analyses that allow architects to look holistically at these embodied impacts. With complete and comparable information about the carbon footprint of both existing buildings and new construction projects, more informed decisions can be made about the opportunities and impacts of each project type. Following an introduction of research first explored in The Greenest Building study, we will present our recent experience navigating various decision-making processes, guided by holistic carbon considerations. In particular, we will look closely at the life cycle analysis for the Kern Center, a Living Building Challenge project, and the adaptive reuse of a former mill building at MASS MoCA to illustrate the variety, applicability, and impact of analytical methods.

Learning Objectives:

Compare and contrast metrics for measuring the impacts of a building’s life cycle—primarily on climate—and define proper uses for different metrics.

Define embodied and operational carbon, review means of assessing embodied energies of built environment, and identify methods for accounting for embodied carbon in the design, construction, operation, and deconstruction of a building.

Develop processes for integrating carbon metrics into project decision making.

Assess the value of existing building stock relative to the climate impacts of construction and mitigation strategies for new buildings.

Learning Level:

Level 300 - Application/Implementation


GBCI Credit Hours:
AIA Credit Hours:

Event Type: Education Sessions > Session