The “carbon balance” of a building is made up of its base emissions (both embodied and operational carbon) minus any carbon reduction actions taken, including any offsets purchased and applied to the building. We depreciate embodied carbon over a 60-year timeframe.
The building’s base emissions are estimated using key data points about the building including its structure type (e.g. mass timber, concrete & steel), primary usage (e.g. office, residence), size, and location. Our model is also built based on geography and takes into account regional differences in building materials, the percent of renewable energy on the local electric grid, and other factors.
As property owners add more detailed information about a building, its ongoing energy usage, and any mitigation actions (e.g. solar panels, usage of low-carbon materials), the accuracy of its carbon balance increases.
Learn more about our methodology here.
The “carbon balance” of a building is made up of its base emissions minus any carbon reduction actions taken, including any offsets purchased and applied to the building. Our model works for both new and existing buildings, from construction to operation and maintenance, to end of life (encompassing lifecycle modules A1-A3 and B2-B6 on an LCA).
Base emissions consists of two components:
The building’s base emissions are estimated using multiple data points, the three most important of which have the greatest impact on any building’s carbon footprint:
Additional data points that factor into the estimation to a lesser degree:
The chart below illustrates how each factor influences carbon balance totals for two representative buildings: a two-story, single-family residence and a larger office building, both built in the same year. As you can see, each building’s carbon balance varies significantly based on geographic location. You can also see how the structure & size of the building impacts its embodied carbon emissions when the location changes. Lastly, you’ll note that when you look at a building’s carbon emissions by square foot, even large concrete & steel buildings can be as efficient as a small woodframe home.
For more technical calculations, please see our scope and methodology knowledge base article.