News Brief

Design Guide Tackles All Angles of Decarbonization

Embodied carbon, electrification, and renewable energy: practice guide from the William J. Worthen Foundation pieces together decarbonization best practices.

Looking for a comprehensive resource on eliminating the carbon impact of buildings?

The Building Decarbonization Practice Guide, a project of the William J. Worthen Foundation, promises to be that resource. The first two chapters have now been released, already totaling 75 pages, out of seven chapters planned. Once complete, the resource is intended to be an “expert-created free compendium of practical, case study-based guidance; and up-to-date reference tool.”

The introduction provides the basics on the climate crisis and outlines the three-pronged strategy needed to decarbonize the sector: electrification, low-carbon-material selection, and net-positive renewable energy production.

The next volume quickly gets into the details. For example, it discusses why cost and energy performance analyses typically undervalue all-electric buildings, and offers a few new metrics to consider, including:

  • BTU per square foot per year, modified hourly based on a Time Dependent Valuation (TDV) multiplier
  • Dollars per pound of avoided carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions
  • Operational costs using artificial utility tariffs that directly correlate with minimizing carbon emissions.

It also gives a detailed overview of heat-pump technologies and their various configurations. Design practices like avoiding infiltration and thermal bridging are framed from a total-carbon perspective. Construction practices like commissioning and deconstruction complete the picture.  


Update November 12, 2021: The third volume in the Practice Guide was released after this story was published. It is titled "Multi-Family Residential, Hotels/Motels, and Similar Buildings."

For more information:

William J Worthen

Published November 1, 2021

Pearson, C. (2021, October 22). Design Guide Tackles All Angles of Decarbonization . Retrieved from

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November 15, 2021 - 6:32 pm

Thank you for making us aware of this! I have download the three volumes and look forward to reading them.

November 16, 2021 - 10:21 am

Glad you're finding this resource useful Gayle!