Reducing carbon in the built environment

The built environment is a major emitter of greenhouse gases. To help encourage net-zero building practices, Dow joined two leading industry associations to challenge architects and building owners to design and construct energy-efficient buildings.

Dow partnered with the American Institute of Architects International Region (AIA International) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to conduct engagement programs to help drive the adoption of lower-carbon building technologies during the decision-making and design phase.

  • Dow co-initiated the Sustainable Future Awards with AIA International. Architects and designers selected by the AIA International jury for design excellence are eligible for the award, which honors sustainable and integrated designs that enhances human health, energy efficiency and stewardship of our planetary resources.
  • In North Asia, Dow launched the Carbon Challenge Award with USGBC. The award recognizes office buildings and large shopping centers around Asia that reduce their carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency beyond business as usual. The inaugural Carbon Challenge received a total of 63 entries. Jointly, these buildings saved 38,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent year over year. This compares to the CO2 sequestered from 600,000 tree saplings over 10 years. This compares to the CO2 sequestered from 600,000 tree saplings over 10 years based on the calculations used in Arc.

“A significant share of emissions in the built environment can be avoided with technologies that exist today,” said Dr. Hirokazu Shibata, technology & sustainability leader for Asia Pacific at Dow Olympic & Sports Solutions. “Carbon innovation needs wider adoption of locally relevant solutions for a successful transition to a more sustainable society. These awards help identify and recognize best practices and learnings from top-performing buildings that can help inform new construction in the region.”

The joint initiatives not only recognize carbon emissions reductions in the built environment, but also present winners with an opportunity to contribute their carbon savings to Dow’s Carbon Partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Working with the value chain

Buildings are the largest energy-consuming sector in the world, responsible for approximately one-third of global carbon emissions. Because buildings have an average lifespan of 40 years, the choice of materials in the design phase is important. Accelerating the adoption of resource-efficient building options is needed for the construction industry to move toward a lower carbon future.

The awards programs with AIA International and USGBC are part of the High-Performance Building Initiative launched under the Dow-IOC Carbon Partnership. For the initiative, Dow teamed with engineering professionals at Arup and the carbon and sustainability expert South Pole to develop a methodology to quantify verified carbon reductions from high performance building projects and apply them to the Dow-IOC Carbon Partnership. This whole-life carbon methodology builds on recognized approaches and mechanisms and has been validated by an independent auditor, Environmental Resources Management.

The High-Performance Building Initiative is one of several projects executed by Dow and the IOC around the world as part of the carbon partnership. The partnership encourages organizations outside the Olympic movement to adopt programs for reducing carbon emissions while catalyzing change across value chains through a series of impactful carbon mitigation projects. Learn more in the 2020 Carbon Partnership Report.