Selecting material that has low embodied energy can do more than we think when reducing the global warming potential (GWP) of the built environment. The USGBC typically says 40% of the CO2 or CO2e (equivalent gases) in the U.S. comes from building operations. That is a LOT of energy in heating, cooling, lighting and running our ever-present computers and other equipment. But the new 2030 challenge
by the AIA and affilated groups is offered up to reduce the embodied energy of MATERIALS by asking manufacturers to reduce the amount of energy and redultant emissions it takes to make their awesome sustainable products. Even though materials only make up about 8-12% of GHG emissions, they are "front loaded" by being released even before the building is on the drafting table. It makes just as much sense to begin to reduce those emissions as it does to commit ourselves to more efficient buildings. In fact, we should owe as much creedence to the goal of embodied energy reductions as we do in the goal of reducing the energy consumed while the building is operating.