Embodied Carbon – What It Is, Why You Should Care, A LOT, And How You Can Be A Better Architect, Builder, Owner And Custodian Of The Planet

Embodied Carbon – What It Is, Why You Should Care, A LOT, And How You Can Be A Better Architect, Builder, Owner And Custodian Of The Planet

October 26, from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

for Members & Non-Members

This panel discussion explores the distinction between embodied carbon and operational carbon in building design. Investigating the environmental impact of construction materials and building operations, the discussion highlights the importance of reducing the embodied carbon footprint of buildings. We will hear from architects Mateo Gonzalez of Steinberg Hart and Sharon Refvem of Hawley Peterson Snyder, both deeply committed to minimizing embodied carbon in their designs, along with builder Emi LaFountain from Turner Construction, a company at the forefront of environmentally conscious construction practices. We will gain insights into the materials that have the greatest impact on embodied carbon and discover various methods and strategies to mitigate these impacts in the buildings we design. This active learning session aims to empower participants to comprehend the global implications of embodied carbon in the built environment and equip them with tools to monitor and minimize the ecological footprint of their projects and structures.

Learning Objectives | (CEUs: 2 LU/HSW Pending Approval)

1. Explore the differences between Embodied and Operational Carbon.
2. Investigate the environmental impact of construction materials and building operations to reduce the impact of embodied carbon.
3. Explore the tools available to Architects for calculating and measuring embodied carbon.
4. Plan how to strategize, and what to expect when implementing embodied carbon reduction.
5. Identify who are the stakeholders and what role do each of them play.



Senior Job Captain
Steinberg Hart

A Native Californian and resident of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mateo achieved his Living Future Accreditation in 2020 while evacuating from his home during the CZU Fire. As a result, most sustainability interest has been focused on Carbon Sequestration and Life Cycle Analysis. He firmly advocates sustainable forestry practices and recognizes its potential to be ecologically restorative.
With over 20 years of experience, he has worked on various building typologies, including Glide Memorial Tower, Post Katrina Housing in New Orleans, PGE Power Substation, and the Central Subway Station in San Francisco.
During his tenure with Steinberg Hart, Mateo Gonzalez has worked on various building types, including residential, educational, and civic facilities. For the past five years, his technical acumen has been in developing high-rise residential and office towers. He is an active member of Steinberg Hart’s Sustainability Collab Group and
the International Living Future Institute.

Associate Principal | Director
Sustainability Resource Group

Sharon Refvem is an Associate Principal with Hawley Peterson Snyder and Director of the HPS Sustainability Resource Group.  She has served as Project Architect and sustainability resource on many of the firms’ projects and provides green building consulting services to municipalities, corporations, construction companies, and architectural firms. Before joining HPS, she practiced architecture and taught at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. She is a founding member and past President of the USGBC’s Northern California Chapter, past President of AIA Silicon Valley, and currently Vice-Chair of AIA California’s Climate Action Committee and a member of the California Building Standards Commission’s Code Advisory Committee for CALGreen.

Sustainability Integration Manager
Turner Construction

Emi LaFountain is a Sustainability Integration Manager at Turner Construction, focused on turning sustainability best practices into standard practices. Aside from having started her career in field operations and cost management, she has also held corporate positions as Turner’s Embodied Carbon Program Manager and Jobsite Carbon Program Manager, where she worked to define the contractor’s role in achieving project carbon reductions. Emi was a founding member of the Bay Area Sustainable Construction Leaders group and is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge studying corporate sustainability.