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Past Webinars

Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 1:00 EDT

The Lifecycle of Building Materials and The “Other” Carbon, Embodied Carbon

Image of Embodied Carbon

The built environment as an end user of fossil fuels accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector. The current gold standard for reducing emissions from buildings is to build new, zero net energy buildings - super efficient buildings powered by renewable energy. This is an important step in getting to a carbon neutral build environment, but there is a problem with this strategy: building new zero net energy buildings still generates a lot of emissions when taking the lifecycle of building materials into account.

Research shows that greenhouse gas emissions that occur before we occupy buildings from extracting and manufacturing building materials, often termed 'embodied carbon', are more critical than commonly believed. When it comes to climate change, we need strategies that produce large savings fast. This webinar will expose the often hidden embodied carbon footprint as a critical piece in realizing emissions reductions targets and identify the steps now being taken across the building sector to calculate embodied carbon in materials and to realize the reduction of embodied emissions.

Presenter: Amy Seif Hattan, Thornton Tomasetti

Amy Hattan is the Corporate Sustainability Officer for Thornton Tomasetti

As the Corporate Sustainability Officer for Thornton Tomasetti, Amy Seif Hattan is responsible for "greening" the corporation's business operations across more than 50 office locations and for achieving greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals internally and externally in the firm's engineering projects. She leads Thornton Tomasetti's Embodied Carbon Lab and is on the Board of the Carbon Leadership Forum. With 25 years experience working in the field of sustainability, Amy was an early initiator of campus sustainability efforts at the University of New Hampshire and Middlebury College, and she worked across campuses as senior staff at Second Nature, the organization that founded the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. She received a Masters of Public Administration of the Harvard University Kennedy School, where she focused on climate change policy and organizational change.

Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 1:00 EDT

Environmental Impacts of the Life Cycle of Alluvial Gold Mining in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest

Chart of alluvial gold mining environmental impacts

Alluvial gold mining activities in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest are responsible for mercury emissions and deforestation.

This study uses life cycle assessment methodologies on currently available gold recovery systems to identify the direct relationships between environmental impacts on human toxicity, freshwater ecotoxicity and climate change. Results show that human toxicity values are governed by mercury emissions in gold recovery activities, and freshwater ecotoxicity is driven by diesel engines used in ore extraction and transportation. Moreover, deforestation is contributing to the impacts of climate change. Important to note is that, beyond the environmental burdens related to alluvial goldmining, there are impacts affecting the social, cultural, and economic dimensions that will still need to be analyzed to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the system. In this study, four predominant extraction systems and three scenarios that reflect currently available gold recovery systems were modelled; the USEtox and IPCC life cycle impact assessment methodologies were used.

Presenter: Ramzy Kahhat, Ph.D, Professor Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Ramzy Kahhat is a Professor at the Department of Engineering at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

Ramzy Kahhat is a Professor at the Department of Engineering at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Ramzy obtained his PhD and MSE in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Arizona State University. He is a broadly trained civil and environmental engineer applying concepts and methods from Sustainable Engineering, Industrial Ecology, and Earth Systems Engineering and Management. He is particularly skilled in the use of Material Flow Analysis (MFA) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCA). His expertise in these areas have been used in several research studies, such as sustainable management of solid waste, LCA of civil infrastructure, energy systems and agricultural products, MFA of electronic materials and construction materials, urban stocks, characterization of debris generated by natural disasters, others.