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Issue 5.1

Validating an Emerging Design Area through Industry‐Academia Research Partnerships

Collaborative research between the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry and academia can bring about new avenues for design innovation that are informed with applied experience, good data, foundational understanding, and the freshest thinking. The case of how embodied carbon—the carbon footprint of building materials—rose to the forefront of sustainable design in early 2020 (Lobet 2020) shows the value of these partnerships for validating new ideas and for eventual market adoption of sustainability strategies. These partnerships, which marry applied knowledge and data with a wide and well‐informed research perspective, can validate the importance of an emerging topic in the AEC industry and thus result in change in both the ivory tower and in steel towers. A number of industry‐academic research and policy partnerships contributed to marketplace recognition of embodied carbon; this paper focuses on the case of partnerships formed in 2011 to study embodied carbon benchmarks.