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This searchable map can display any building's carbon footprint

The business that created the interactive map, Carbon Title, has one specific goal: raising awareness of the cost of carbon in our buildings.

LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. — If you knew the amount of carbon dioxide that was produced in the construction and operation of a building, your building, would it change where you chose to live? Work? Invest? Would that then drive rapid change in the building process, and regulations on building operations?

These are the questions local startup, Carbon Title, whose headquarters are in Lake Oswego, hopes people will answer with a resounding yes.

"If every building in the U.S. reduced its carbon footprint by one metric ton — which is nothing — it would be the equivalent of removing 27 million cars from the road ever year," said Carbon Title co-founder Trevor Dryer.

Adds co-founder Miles Haladay: "Climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetime."

It's estimated that buildings across the world contribute upwards of 40% to total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). For years, the world has been going greener with energy production and being more efficient with how we use that energy. But research on embodied carbon (carbon within actual construction) is just recently getting needed attention.

"There’s been an explosion of data around the embodied emissions of construction materials," said Wes Sullens, director LEED at the United States Green Building Council. You've no doubt heard of LEED certified buildings, distinguished by their commitment to efficiency, environmental best practices, and equity.  

When asked if getting a ballpark carbon number from the actual building process was possible, Sullens said the following:

"We’re getting to the point where we’re getting very directionally accurate with tools and resources," Sullen said. "It’s saying, decarbonize your concrete, look for ways to get better steel — the way it's produced — and other materials, yes."

And this is where Carbon Title enters the discussion. They've developed an interactive map, Carbon Title Explorer, that gives you a number that represents all the carbon within construction and through the operation of a building.

"Carbon Title Explorer is a public searchable map of over 100 million buildings in the U.S. And you can go and find your building and we will give you something that is like a nutrition label for the building," Dryer said. "It shows you the emissions, where they're coming from, how it changes over time; and most importantly, allows the building owner to take action to start reducing the carbon footprint of that building."

That value is free to anyone who wants to see it. Making that information more accessible should drive transparency and lower carbon building methods through the entire process.

Said Haladay: "You can only build with what you have within your industry. We need to change the tools and the materials that people have available, not just try to decarbonize a building, we have to decarbonize the whole system."   

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at cmcginness@kgw.com or reach out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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