Schedule

This timeline is subject to change at BE+’s discretion. View Notice of Interest Form here

Submissions Portal

Have you been working to reduce embodied carbon on a project? Submit your project for award consideration. Download the ECC Submissions Guide below. This document walks you through the submissions process and outlines the steps to submit a complete application. When you’re ready, submit your project through the ECC Submissions Form. The deadline for submissions is April 3rd, 2024.

Total Prize Money

Prizes

Unlike operational carbon emissions, which can be reduced over time with building energy efficiency renovations and renewable energy, embodied carbon emissions from building materials have irreversibly entered the atmosphere as soon as a building is built. That means the upfront building material choices are critically impactful. And as new construction operations become more efficient, embodied carbon impacts become even more significant. On current trajectories, Architecture 2030 estimates embodied carbon will be responsible for almost half of total new construction emissions between 2020 and 2050.

MassCEC has engaged Built Environment Plus (BE+) to conduct an Embodied Carbon Challenge for actual new construction and major renovation projects in process or built in Massachusetts.

At least 5 prizes will be reserved for Lead Applicants who have not performed Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA) previously.

Prizes

MassCEC will award up to $380,000 of prizes for up to 12 projects that incorporate replicable, innovative, and impactful changes to reduce embodied carbon in building materials.

Prizes categories include:

  • $50,000 Grand Prize Substantial Rehabilitation
  • $50,000 Grand Prize New Construction
  • 9 Runner-up prizes of $30,000
  • $10,000 People’s Choice Award

At least 5 prizes will be reserved for Lead Applicants who have not performed Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA) previously.

Judging

Judges will score the projects on a scale of 0-100 using the following criteria. Meet our expert Judges!

BE+ in collaboration with Brightworks will review all submissions prior to sending to the Judging Panel.

A panel of embodied carbon experts will serve as the judges, review the projects and determine the 2 grand prize winners and other projects to recognize.

BE+ will update this page with the judging panelists.

BE+ will announce the winners at an in-person celebration planned for May 2024. Following the celebration BE+ will issue the prize money to the Lead Applicants on the winning projects.

All prize winners will receive graphic from MassCEC showing recognition level/prize awarded in addition to cash prize.  Graphic  may  be included on company website and  marketing materials.

Webly Bowles

Webly Bowles

WAP Sustainability

Sustainability Director

Emily Flynn

Emily Flynn

Tangible

Founding Researcher

Isabelle Hens

Isabelle Hens

Atelier Ten

Environmental Designer

Jeremy Shiman

Jeremy Shiman

WRNS Studio

Project Architect

Mel Chafart

Mel Chafart

CLF

Research Affiliate

Stacey Smedley

Stacey Smedley

Building Transparency

Executive Director

Justin Schwartzhoff

Justin Schwartzhoff

LMN Architects

Sustainability Coordinator

Rebecca Essau

Rebecca Essau

RMI

Manager, Carbon-Free Buildings

Jessie Templeton

Jessie Templeton

Brightworks Sustainability

Senior Materials Consultant

Joel Martell

Joel Martell

National Grid

Senior Analyst – Customer Energy Management

Q&A

Questions should be directed to embodiedcarbon@builtenvironmentplus.org BE+ will update this Q&A over the course of the Challenge.

Competition

Q: What’s on the Express interest form?
A: You can see the questions here.

 

Q: My project is complete and occupied.  We are still working on certification. I already have an LCA complete.  Can we apply for the award?
A: MassCEC’s intent with this program is to influence project design. That’s why the projects need to either be in construction documents OR NOT have been completed prior to June 1, 2023 to be considered for an award. Unfortunately if the project is substantially completed and able to be occupied, then it won’t qualify for an award.

 

Q: How does the prize money get distributed across the project team?
A:  The prize money is intended to offset the cost of doing the LCA. How the money is distributed is up to the lead applicant. Each entry is required to have a lead applicant.

 

Q: My project is complete and occupied.  We are still working on certifications. I already have an LCA complete.  Can we apply for the award?
A: MassCEC’s intent with this program is to influence project design.  That’s why the projects need to either be in construction documents OR NOT have been completed prior to June 1, 2023 to be considered for an award. Unfortunately, if the project is substantially completed and able to be occupied, then it won’t qualify for an award.

 

Q: What is a baseline model and how do I create one?
A: The baseline building must be the same as the proposed design in terms of LCA scope, size, function, orientation, location, and operating energy performance. Typically the baseline building is very similar to the proposed design, only it reflects industry typical conditions or earlier design options that were intentionally studied, and a lower carbon decision was made. There is numerous documentation on creating a baseline building in the following resources:
– LEEDv4 Guidance Reference Guide (page 505)
– ILFI’s Embodied Carbon Guidance (page 4)
– Tally Guides for LEED v4 Building Life Cycle Impact Reduction Credit (link)
– Vancouver City Draft guidance (page 10, link)

 

Q: How to handle reused conditions in a baseline comparison?
A: Baseline buildings generally include all existing materials as if they were new. Then, proposed designs remove A1-A3 impacts or other phases, as appropriate, for the existing elements. See additional guidance in the following resources:
– ILFI’s Embodied Carbon Guidance (page 4)
– Vancouver City Draft guidance (page 11, link)

 

Q: How would A5 be included in this?
A: A5 covers emissions from construction and installation. This phase is not required by the competition, but is encouraged.
– The suggested best practice would be to work with the GC to track and enter utility and fuel data from the construction site into the chosen tool, or append a custom calculation as desired.
– In the absence of contractor data, the “Whole Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Environment, RICS Professional Standard, 2nd edition” (link) sections 2 and 4 suggests a process for estimating from typical emissions more coarsely at early project stages.

Note: this phase would be required by projects pursuing ILFI, but not for projects pursuing LEED.

 

Q: Are there ways to input product-specific EPDs into either of the programs?
A:First of all, we suggest that benefits from PS-EPDs be accounted for only if the product has been installed (shown through a submittal), or the specifications leave little doubt that the exact product or equivalent will be installed, such as by specifying a Global Warming Potential (GWP) limit for a product that any alternatives would be vetted against.

To get directly to your question, the answer is yes there are ways to input Product Specific EPDs. OneClickLCA can accommodate requests to upload product specific data usually within a few weeks. You can also search by the EPD number or name to see if the EPD is already available in the tool. Note that the LEED US Tool within OneClick will only allow EPD uploads in TRACI format, so EPDs which only report in CML format will not be available in the tool. This is common for products manufactured outside of the US. See the next question for what to do in this situation.

Tally generally does not allow product specific EPDs. Pushing data from Tally into EC3 is the primary way to model product specific data, though the result would no longer be a WBLCA because EC3 lacks the later stages of the life cycle. However, some product changes can be approximated in Tally without using product specific EPDs, such as applying a custom concrete mix using information from a submittal. Tally is better suited to compare designs and materials, and is limited on the products side.

 

 

Q: Given different standards between USA and Europe, can you use a European EPD?
A: This can be a challenge. The key difference is that the characterization methods are different (TRACI in US v. CML internationally). While some EPDs report in both methods, many do not. If you want to include an EPD in the OneClick LEED US Tool (TRACI method) for a product, we suggest that you reach out to the manufacturer and advocate that they publish an EPD that reflects the impacts in both formats (TRACI and CML). Otherwise we suggest you provide a post processing calculation showing the Global Warming Potential (GWP) impact reduction you expect, and the reviewers could take that into consideration.

 

Q: How should I approach modeling concrete mixes?
A: In the baseline buildings in both tools we suggest using NRMCA typical mix designs with appropriate regional assumptions for Supplementary Cementitious Materials (SCMs).

For proposed buildings we suggest:
– In Tally, use NRMCA mixes as a proxy to show specification requirements for a GWP limit or a higher SCM replacement target. Or, if actual submittal data is available, use the custom concrete mix function. ZGF’s tool (link) is a highly complementary way to explore concrete mix designs alongside Tally.
– In OneClick, use NRMCA mixes as a proxy to show specification requirements for a GWP limit or a higher SCM replacement target. Better yet, require Product Specific EPDs and include those product specific EPDs in the proposed design model.

Partners

About MassCEC

MassCEC is a state economic development agency dedicated to accelerating the growth of the clean energy sector across the Commonwealth to spur job creation, deliver statewide environmental benefits and to secure long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. MassCEC works to increase the adoption of clean energy while driving down costs and delivering financial, environmental, and economic development benefits to energy users and utility customers across the state.

MassCEC’s mission is to accelerate the clean energy and climate solution innovation that is critical to meeting the Commonwealth’s climate goals, advancing Massachusetts’ position as an international climate leader while growing the state’s clean energy economy. MassCEC is committed to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization where everyone is welcomed, supported, respected, and valued. We are committed to incorporating principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and environmental justice in all aspects of our work in order to promote the equitable distribution of the health and economic benefits of clean energy and support a diverse and inclusive clean energy industry. MassCEC strives to lead and innovate in equitable clean energy and climate solutions.

Fine Print

This Solicitation does not commit BE+ or MassCEC to award any funds, pay any costs incurred in preparing an application, or procure or contract for services or supplies. BE+ reserves the right to accept or reject any or all applications received, waive minor irregularities in submittal requirements, modify the anticipated timeline, request modification of the application, negotiate with all qualified Applicants, cancel or modify the Solicitation in part or in its entirety, or change the application guidelines, when it is in its best interests.

This Solicitation has been distributed electronically using BE+’s website. It is the responsibility of Applicants to check the website for any addenda or modifications to a Solicitation to which they intend to respond. BE+ accepts no liability and will provide no accommodation to Applicants who submit an application based on an out-of-date Solicitation document.