The context of One Vanderbilt, a supertall office tower in New York City, forms the basis for one of the report’s case studies. Photo Credit: Raimund Koch

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KPF Celebrates Launch of “The Carbon Sweet Spot” Research Report with ULI and the University of Washington

The report seeks to understand how architects and developers can balance embodied and operational carbon emissions when designing building façades.

The built environment is responsible for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, a figure that includes a combination of embodied emissions, those released to produce building materials such as glass and metal, and operational emissions, or those released to keep a building running throughout its service life. To meet our shared climate goals and reduce overall carbon emissions, architects and developers must consider both elements, however, certain design decisions require tradeoffs: improved operational efficiency sometimes comes at an upfront carbon cost.

The report titled “The Carbon Sweet Spot” explores and analyzes some of the tradeoffs involved in designing building façades to minimize whole life carbon. Through three case studies of KPF projects in New York, London, and Singapore, the report examines how factors such as façade design and material selection along with local energy policy and climate conditions influence whole life carbon emissions. The report was produced by researchers at the University of Washington, commissioned by ULI, and made possible by a donation from KPF in remembrance of A. Eugene Kohn, KPF Co-Founder and ULI Life Trustee.

To celebrate the report’s release, KPF hosted a presentation of the its findings by representatives of the research team from the ULI Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate in collaboration with KPF and the University of Washington’s Integrated Design Lab on May 21. A reaction panel of real estate experts followed the report presentation and featured Jennifer Cass, Senior Vice President, Capital Program, NYC Economic Development Corporation; Michael Daschle, Senior Vice President of Sustainability, U.S. Office Business, Brookfield Properties; and Kai Starn, Senior Sustainability Consultant, Steven Winter Associates, and was moderated by Marta Schantz, Co-Executive Director, Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate, Urban Land Institute. Learn more here.