The global Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) has appointed Arup to develop the City Handbook for Carbon Neutral Buildings to offer cities a practicable approach to reducing COemissions through low carbon construction.

Buildings are responsible for 40% of global energy consumption and produce 33% of greenhouse gas emissions. With a large chunk of new construction taking place in urban environments, cities have a role to play in encouraging sustainable construction methods and creating a market demand for low-carbon and bio-based materials such as timber, hemp and wool.

Founded in 2014, CNCA brings together 21 leading global cities working to achieve carbon neutrality as rapidly as possible and ahead of national and international targets. The Handbook will support cities to minimise the carbon footprint of buildings across CNCA’s network and beyond.

The Handbook will be designed as an interactive tool that urban policymakers and planners can tailor to specific building projects, including step-by-step guidance on how to reduce embodied carbon and implement circular economy principles.

The Handbook will build on CNCA’s City Policy Framework for Dramatically Reducing Embodied Carbon that charted this new policy territory by outlining 52 policies cities can adopt to reduce embodied carbon emissions.

“Emissions during construction are a major contributor to lifetime emissions for capital projects. While operations may have decarbonisation opportunities long after construction completion, the embodied carbon emissions from construction are set in stone as the project is executed. Up-front carbon emissions account for up to 50 percent of total life cycle emissions”, says Peter Vangsbo, leading Sustainability and Climate Services in Arup in Denmark.

“The time is now for both industry leaders and city policymakers to make tackling embodied emissions a priority,” according to Vangsbo. “Arup’s partnership with CNCA aims to help cities combat climate change by reducing embodied emissions.”

Simone Mangili, CNCA’s Executive Director, adds: “Our aim is to support engagement between policymakers and key players across the public and private sector – from architects and engineers to urban planners to procurement and permitting officials – in continuing to chart a collaborative approach to designing sustainable buildings for a carbon positive future”.

The Handbook for Carbon Neutral Buildings will identify green supply chains for residential, commercial and industrial building stock, while providing general and location-specific guidance on the procurement of biobased and low-carbon materials, including a catalogue of biobased alternatives for structures, cladding and insulation.

Learn more about how Arup plans, designs and shapes sustainable cities here and about CNCA’s leadership on embodied carbon here.