Reducing carbon emissions rapidly within the next 20 years is critical to averting disastrous climate change. Because carbon impacts of building products are disproportionately high over the first 20 years of a building's life (they become less significant compared to operational carbon over 100 years or more), a focus on products could help "front-load" carbon reductions in the building sector.
The 2030 Challenge for Products aims to reduce the embodied carbon (meaning the carbon emissions equivalent) of building products 50% by 2030. According to the organization, 5%–8% of total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. result from the manufacture and transport of building products and the construction of buildings. Cutting those emissions in half would be like permanently shutting down 222 coal-fired power plants.
With more than 100 different product categories to be addressed, the 2030 Challenge for Products has a lot of details to sort out. Architecture 2030 plans to spend the next two years finalizing product category rules
(PCRs), including product-specific carbon benchmarks based on current life-cycle averages, a process the organization hopes will lead to “a harmonization of standards.”