Scope 3 Emissions Are All the Rage!
Scope 3 emissions are all the rage! Not a typical headline for Happy Eco News but relevant none-the-less as building owners, manufacturers, and industries are striving to gain opportunities to impact this critical reporting sector globally. Once relegated to only managing scope 1 and 2, scope 3 is the drive to net zero emissions and will undoubtedly inspire new innovation across all facets of industry particularly those impacting the built environment space.
The US EPA is lending an assist with this effort as they ramp up new funding and support platforms to elevate new carbon labeling initiatives under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The EPA is striving to drive huge impact through its own adoption and use of low-embodied carbon materials. As a practice, they will set the guidelines for which the federal government will procure their materials with the intention of setting the industry standards and practices. The opportunity to transform the built environment with new low-carbon labeling would mean chipping away at the critical 11% of CO2e attributed to the construction materials sector in particular.
The EPA is focused on the “dirty” materials of concrete, asphalt, steel, and glass. Impacting each of these industries will only occur through the development of new production practices, new resourcing practices, and new disposal practices. We believe the new carbon labeling standards will mean a greater consideration of regenerative and biobased materials for use into these sectors, particularly those focused on waste-to-value.
The waste-to-value sector would afford manufacturers to consider more circular practices within their operations while stabilizing supply chains. With principles of the circular economy focused on not taking more than what nature can provide, it is a safe assumption that a focus on scope 3 emission reductions along with new carbon labeling standards will inspire new technology to design waste out of the supply chain. It is believed that a greater emphasis will be placed on new biobased materials as well. Optimizing nature-based solutions for industrial sectors has been a concept long overdue for adoption.
No longer merely a trend, biobased and nature-inspired materials sit squarely in the middle of the scope 3 emission equation. For instance, markets based in mycelium (fungi) once believed to be “unscalable” are now valued at $2.65B (2021) and predicted to reach $5.21B by 2030. This number is blended, but mycelium materials alone make up $1.6B of the current market opportunity. As a carbon synch, these biobased materials are well poised to have impact as new raw materials for use in high carbon sectors like concrete and other building products.
All of this to say: the time is now to set realistic standards for the use of biobased, recycled, and low-embodied carbon materials. Removing the barriers to market won’t be easy, it will take architects, engineers, manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and building owners to press for the adoption of new materials to replace the “dirty” sectors if we are to truly drive down the critical scope 3 emissions. New processes to create value from waste. New processes to manufacture new raw materials supply. New opportunities for scalable adoption. With agencies like the EPA and others hyper-focused on these strategies, many of the hurdles are being cleared for the adoption of nature-based solutions now.
The time for nature to have its space in our built environment is now. There is no waste in nature. Aligning with these principals will serve to aid all the stakeholders focused on scope 3 emission reductions hit their goals.
Joanne Rodriguez is the CEO of Mycocycle. Mycocycle develops and licenses a nature-based process to reduce waste and develop new biobased low-embodied carbon raw materials. Their process optimizes fungal mycelium to reduce greenhouse gases in the carbon-heavy sectors of waste management and construction materials. Please visit their website for more information: www.mycocycle.com. Follow Joanne on Twitter @greengirlnow for more reflections on nature-based solutions and all things mushrooms.