Getting from Bio-based Materials to Carbon Negative Products – Greenbuild 2020 Session Review


Buildings and construction account for 40% of total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and experts say carbon emissions from the built environment need to peak within 15 years for Earth to have a chance of staying below the global warming tipping point. According to Architecture 2030, the manufacturing of building materials will result in at least half of building-related GHG emissions due to embodied carbon emissions over the next 30 years.

The current manufacturing of building products contributes substantially to the climate crisis. Therefore, we must ask, how can building product supply chains become part of the solution instead of the problem?

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) shows that products’ embodied carbon emissions can become “negative” if production takes in a greater amount of atmospheric carbon dixoide than is emitted, often called carbon negative. This panel explores numerous pathways to create carbon negative building products. The emerging carbon negative materials palette will need to combine both ancient natural materials and completely novel materials.

Bruce King, author and premier expert on carbon-storing building materials, will introduce this emerging field and the range of available solutions to start the session. Next, two manufacturers (one global, one local) will share case studies detailing their success in building carbon-storing supply chains for new building products. Finally, Jacques Chirazi of The Biomimicry Institute will preview early stage carbon storing products based on biomimicry. Discussion will include distinguishing between carbon negative products and products that are merely bio-based. Attendees will walk away understanding the basic science behind creating carbon storing products, the relationship between bio-based materials and carbon negative products, and the steps needed to make carbon negative products widely available in all categories of building products.


Attendees will be able to explain “carbon negative” and distinguish why using building materials with a negative embodied carbon footprint can help address global warming.

Attendees will be able to distinguish the following: bio-based materials that contribute to LEED v4 and v4.1 credits for Leadership Extraction Practices and Multi-Attribute Optimization; bio-based materials used to create carbon negative products; and, biomimicry-inspired technologies for carbon storage.

Participants will assess actionable next steps to earn LEED points for low carbon and bio-based materials in a way that will also drive adoption, specification, and at-scale manufacturing of carbon negative products that reduce the carbon footprint of both LEED BD+C and ID+C projects.

Attendees will be able to cite pitfalls, gaps and innovation opportunities when moving from carbon negative products to carbon negative buildings.



LEED Specific: BD+C, LEED Specific: ID+C

Learning Level: Intermediate

Ecological Building Network
Bruce King is the author of “The New Carbon Architecture”, and has been a structural engineer for 40 years, designing buildings of every size and type around the world, from Port-au-Prince to Palo Alto. He is also author of the ASTM international building standard for earthen construction, as well as the books “Buildings of Earth and Straw”, “Making Better Concrete”, and “Design of Straw Bale Buildings”.

Mr. King is also the Founder and Director of the Ecological Building Network (EBNet), a non-profit information resource that sponsors the BuildWell Source (, an online library of low-carbon and carbon storing materials.

Elizabeth Whalen
VP Marketing & Sustainability
Cal Plant
Elizabeth Whalen is vice president of marketing and sustainability for CalPlant, the disruptive innovator behind the world’s first rice straw-based medium density fiberboard (MDF) manufacturing plant. Prior to joining the CalPlant team in 2010, Ms. Whalen worked for Columbia Forest Products, leading the company in introducing its pioneering formaldehyde-free adhesive innovation and working in support of the California Air Resources Board’s hotly contested, and ultimately passed, regulation to limit formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products. She served multiple terms on the national board of the U.S. Green Building Council both in the product manufacturer seat and as an officer. Ms. Whalen has a B.A. from the School of Journalism & Communications at the University of Oregon and an MBA in sustainable business from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.


Mikhail Davis
Director of Technical Sustainability
Mikhail Davis is Director of Technical Sustainability at Interface, a world-leading modular flooring company with a fully integrated collection of hard and soft flooring. Interface’s mission, Climate Take Back™, invites industry to commit to making a profit in a way that is restorative to the planet and creates a climate fit for life. Mikhail is responsible for advancing Interface’s mission in the Americas by building internal leadership capacity, facilitating strategic alignment of efforts, and creating external partnerships that shift the marketplace toward sustainability.

An expert in sustainable materials, he leads Interface’s product transparency efforts in the Americas and was lead author and editor of the Radical Industrialists column at for two years. He also chaired the LEED Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group for the US Green Building Council (2016-2019).

Previously, he served as manager to environmental icon David Brower and spent five years with Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting building sustainable business strategies for Fortune 500 companies including Walmart, Staples, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. He holds a B.S. in Earth Systems from Stanford University and is a certified Biomimicry Specialist (Arizona State University).


Jacques Chirazi
Director of Student Entrepreneurship and Blackstone Launchpad Program
University of California San Diego
Jacques Chirazi is the Innovation and Commercialization Manager for the Biomimicry Institute. Jacques has designed and launched the Biomimicry Launchpad, an accelerator program that helps early-stage entrepreneurs bring nature-inspired solutions to market. With a passion for learning about the natural world and an understanding of how nature could transform the corporate environment, Jacques brings this novel biomimicry approach to foster the next generation of sustainable entrepreneurs and their revolutionary businesses. He holds Master degree from University of California San Diego’s Graduate School of International Relations & Pacific Studies with an emphasis in International Environmental Policy, a Master degree from Arizona State University School of Life Sciences in Biomimicry and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from San Diego State University’s School of Business Administration. He teaches sustainability and clean technology courses to students at the University of California, San Diego Extension. Finally, Jacques is a Certified Energy Manager (C.E.M), and LEED-GA.



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