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HOK’s Anica Landreneau and Sean Quinn Champion Embodied Carbon Opportunities in the AEC Sector

HOK’s sustainable and regenerative design directors explored decarbonization strategies and the crucial role of embodied carbon at AIA A’23.

The AIA 2023 Conference on Architecture convened research and design leaders from private and public sectors to discuss the need for industry-wide adoption of embodied carbon standards.

The hour-long panel discussion was moderated by HOK’s Anica Landreneau and Ralph DiNola, CEO of the New Buildings Institute (NBI). The panel featured Ida Clair, state architect at the California Department of General Services; Don Horn, former deputy director of high-performance buildings at the General Services Administration (GSA); Josh Jacobs, director of sustainability at WAP Sustainability; Webly Bowles, associate director of codes and policy at the NBI; and Sean Quinn, director of regenerative design at HOK.

The panel conveyed the importance of striking a balance between the advantages of reusing existing buildings and the need to improve building standards. They underscored the opportunities and incentives that embodied carbon standards present to the AEC sector. Most importantly, they stressed the global need for effective communication, knowledge sharing and supportive policies to facilitate the integration of embodied carbon into projects.

Quinn highlighted the immense potential in creatively retrofitting existing structures: “There’s 50% or more savings to be had by preserving and adapting …” Additionally, Quinn discussed how reusing existing structures could potentially alleviate global supply chain challenges.

Landreneau shared the need to modernize building codes: “Equity and health beyond typical life, safety and health ideas and climate and resilience … those things aren’t really picked up in the building code right now.”

Watch the panel discussion below.


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