Embodied Carbon 101: Certifications + commitments—A deeper dive

Learn to evaluate and leverage certifications and commitments for the greatest impact.


Take a closer look at how embodied carbon is incorporated—or will be incorporated—into sustainability programs for the industry and how carbon-thoughtful design is streamlined or incentivized through these programs. The course begins with a look at the established AIA 2030 Commitment, its success in addressing operational energy, and its next iteration, which will include embodied carbon. The AIA 2030 Commitment discussion is followed by an introduction to the SE 2050 Commitment, which is an embodied carbon-focused commitment born out of the Structural Engineering Institute, to be launched in November 2020.

After looking at example commitments, the course introduces the International Living Future Institute’s Zero Carbon Certification, a relatively new certification that looks holistically at operational energy and embodied carbon. And, following Zero Carbon, the Passive House certification is introduced, suggesting ways that practitioners can account for embodied carbon while pursuing this performance-focused certification. Through discussing four major industry sustainability programs, this course will help practitioners to distinguish where embodied carbon is built into certifications and commitments, and where embodied carbon considerations might need to be engineered into design and certification processes for holistic carbon reduction. AEC practitioners will receive the knowledge to evaluate and leverage certifications and commitments for the greatest impact.

Learning objectives

  • Explain the frameworks of and implement commitments like AIA 2030 and SE 2050, and how they can be used by firms to account and advocate for carbon-thoughtful design with clients and collaborators.
  • Explain the purposes of and implement certifications like Zero Carbon and Passive House, and how they can advance carbon-thoughtful design (whether they are structured to or not).
  • Evaluate other sustainability certifications and commitments for their embodied carbon requirements, in order to determine if embodied carbon is integrated into the framework, or if it will need to deliberately be designed into a project additionally.
  • Propose the pursuit of relevant certifications to clients, collaborators, and colleagues by communicating their value in advancing embodied carbon reduction.

This course is part of a series

User rating:
Average: 4.3 (62 votes)
 $45  non-member
 $30  member
1.00 LU
  • HSW


  • Suni Dillard Headshot

    Suni Dillard


    Associate | HMFH Architects

    As a Sustainability Leader at HMFH, Suni has quickly established herself as an in-house resource...
  • Gwen Fuertes Headshot

    Gwen Fuertes


    Associate | Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects

    Gwen Fuertes is co-chair of the AIA National 2030 Working Group, and is an Associate and building...
  • Haley Gardner Headshot

    Haley Gardner

    Senior Specialist, Environment + Carbon | International Living Future Institute

    Haley supports the Zero Energy and Zero Carbon Certification programs at the International Living...
  • Michael Gryniuk Headshot

    Michael Gryniuk


    Associate | LeMessurier

    Michael is an associate at LeMessurier, a structural engineering firm based in Boston, and serves...
  • David Salamon Headshot

    David Salamon

    Architectural Designer and Passive House Specialist | Re:Vision Architecture

    David is passionate about designing architecture that improves the lives of individuals and their...