Embodied Carbon Analysis: Edith Green Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Office Building Adaptive Reuse


The adaptive reuse of existing buildings can meet the needs of a wide variety of clients while also significantly reducing global climate impacts. Multiple other benefits include preservation of buildings and places with historic or cultural significance, and reduced costs relative to new construction. This session delivers an adaptive reuse case study of the Edith Green Wendell Wyatt (EGWW) Federal Office Building in Portland, Oregon, focused on an embodied carbon analysis relative to a comparable new facility. A deep retrofit completed in 2013 transformed this 1970s concrete high-rise, resulting in dramatically improved performance and occupant experience through a new climate responsive facade, and well-integrated systems, including an all-new radiant heating and cooling system.

This deep-retrofit-focused session provides an interesting perspective on the impact building materials have on global climate as measured in embodied carbon. The primary focus is the climate impacts from global warming potential (GWP) analyzed through life cycle assessments (LCA) and measured CO2 equivalent, but other climate impacts (including health) are also noted. You will receive clarity on the distinction between embodied and operational carbon—and why both are important—and analysis methods and strategies to reduce embodied carbon in adaptive reuse and other architectural projects.

Hosted by the Historic Resources Committee (HRC), an AIA Knowledge Community. 

Learning objectives

  • Understand the impacts of embodied carbon on climate change.
  • Examine life cycle analysis (LCA) methods to understand the impacts of specific assemblies and buildings on global warming potential (GWP) as measured in CO2 equivalent.
  • Examine how through adaptive reuse of existing structures, projects can realize significant reductions in their climate impacts.
  • Discuss a range of strategies for significantly reducing the embodied carbon in architectural projects that go beyond adaptive reuse and strategies for concrete. These include the potential of mass timber and other wood-structured buildings, insulation selection, building enclosure strategies, and low-carbon approaches to interiors.

This session was recorded live on March 18, 2021.

User rating:
Average: 4.4 (73 votes)
 $45  non-member
 $30  member
1.00 LU
  • HSW
  • RIBA


  • Clark Brockman Headshot

    Clark Brockman

    AIA, LEED Fellow

    Principal | SERA Architects

    Clark is one of SERA’s Principals focused on sustainability and a champion for climate-responsive...
  • Lindsey Naganuma Headshot

    Lindsay Naganuma

    Architectural and Sustainability Project Assistant | SERA Architects

    Lindsey Naganuma, a recent graduate, earned her Master of Architecture and MBA from the University...