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Awards recognize low-embodied-carbon building design

April 5, 2023  By Zero Emissions Innovation Centre

This past week, British Columbia’s zero-carbon buildings community recognized a group of properties that have demonstrated leadership in producing minimal carbon pollution from their component materials and during their construction.

The inaugural BC Embodied Carbon Awards, hosted by the Carbon Leadership Forum British Columbia (CLF British Columbia) took place on Mar 30, 2023. CLF British Columbia, a program area of the Zero Emissions Building Exchange (ZEBx) and part of the Metro Vancouver Zero Emissions Innovation Centre (ZEIC), is BC’s centre of excellence in low carbon building design.

While most conversations on building emissions largely focus on the pollution they produce during their operation, embodied carbon is that which is generated during the production and transport of their component materials, such as steel and concrete, and those associated with their construction and eventual disposal.

According to an August 2022 study by Priopta, a company that studies the full climate impact of buildings, in British Columbia this embodied carbon represents up to 46% of a given property’s overall footprint. Priopta conducted the study for the Province of British Columbia.


In 2019, the City of Vancouver set a goal to reduce embodied carbon in new buildings 40% by 2030, compared to 2018 levels. Starting in July 2023, the city will begin requiring developers to calculate and report embodied carbon in all their new projects.

A capacity crowd, in excess of 100, packed into the events lounge of Steamworks Brewpub, Water Street, Vancouver. The awards were introduced by Dr Peter Robinson, Chair, Metro Vancouver ZEIC, alongside City of Vancouver Councillor Adriane Carr, also a ZEIC board member.

The awards were presented by MLA: Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (Vancouver – Fairview) and Caroline Butchart, CLF British Columbia Program Manager, ZEBx.

Celebrating the leaders who are achieving embodied carbon reduction in building projects across the province acts as an inspiration, example and catalyst to others, showing how it is possible to minimize carbon footprints and meet our 2030 and 2050 climate commitments.

More than 25 organizations sent in entries, with the awards split into five categories, each with buildings located in Vancouver and in the wider province. Small and large projects were recognized, as well as those organizations and municipalities currently excelling in committing to make the change in reducing embodied emissions.


Small Buildings – Vancouver
Third Space Commons, Third Quadrant Design

  • This project at UBC’s campus, with input from a student design team, is a first, using an existing single-family home which will be deconstructed and reuse materials and systems from the original building.

Small Buildings – British Columbia
Inlet View, Carbonwise

  • This is a single-family home where the client went beyond regular construction standards.

Large Buildings – Vancouver
365 Railway, Perkins+Will

  • This is a mass timber addition of four storeys to an existing two-storey concrete building originally built in 1949.

Large Buildings – British Columbia
Discover Montessori, Checkwitch Poiron Architects Inc

  • This is a project to build a school located in Nanaimo, BC.

Commitment to Change – Public, not for profit organizations

  • City of Nelson

Commitment to Change – Private organizations

  • EllisDon


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