Design Toolkit

Learn how to increase carbon sequestration and reduce carbon footprints from fifty tips and tricks in the Climate Positive Design Toolkit.

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Climate Positive Design Toolkit
Type
Substitute For
Description
Benefit
Wood / Boardwalk Decking
Climate Positive Design - Wood / Boardwalk Decking Icon

Concrete, Stone, Concrete Unit Pavers

Minimize amount of concrete and steel supports/footings. Do not specify tropical hardwoods to protect our carbon rich rainforests. Specify local source if possible.

C02 is stored in wood and remains there as long as its integrity is maintained.

Decomposed Granite
Climate Positive Design - Decomposed Granite Icon

Concrete, Stone, Concrete Unit Pavers

Specify eco-friendly or organic binder.

Lower embodied carbon than other paving materials. Permeability of water through the surface if no binder is used.

Asphalt
Climate Positive Design - Asphalt Icon

Concrete, Stone, Concrete Unit Pavers

Specify local or recycled aggregate.

Lower embodied carbon than other paving materials.

Chip Seal
Climate Positive Design - Chip Seal Icon

Concrete, Stone, Concrete Unit Pavers

Specify local or recycled aggregate for base and top coat.

Lower embodied carbon than other paving materials.

C02 Sequestering Concrete
Climate Positive Design - C02 Sequestering Concrete Icon

Concrete (typical with Portland Cement), Concrete Unit Pavers

C02 is captured from factories and remains in the concrete.

Concrete With Cement Substitutions
Climate Positive Design - Concrete With Cement Substitutions Icon

Concrete (typical with Portland Cement), Concrete Unit Pavers

Specify maximum allowable percentage of cementitious substitutions such as slag, fly ash, glass pozzolan, or silica fume.

Lower embodied carbon than traditional concrete with Portland Cement.

Recycled-content Unit Pavers
Climate Positive Design - Recycled-content Unit Pavers Icon

Concrete Unit Pavers

Specify high percentage recycled content.

Reduce harvesting of virgin materials.

Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF)
Climate Positive Design - Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) Icon

Rubber Surfacing

Play areas.

Water infiltration, lower embodied carbon than wood chips. Provide end-of-life benefit for wood re-use.

Wielded Wire Fabric (WWF) Or Textile- Reinforced Concrete (TRC)
Climate Positive Design - Wielded Wire Fabric (WWF) Or Textile- Reinforced Concrete (TRC) Icon

Rebar

Specify large WWF spacing and light gauge if possible; specify glass reinforced TRC.

Lower embodied carbon.

Natural Drainage Swales And Bioretention Areas
Climate Positive Design - Natural Drainage Swales And Bioretention Areas Icon

HDPE Pipe, Cast, Iron

Natural drainage strategies that minimize the use of piping.

Permeability of water through the surface. Habitat creation in drainage ways.

Lightweight Fill
Climate Positive Design - Lightweight Fill Icon

Foam, Cellular Concrete

Use on green roofs.

Lower embodied carbon than foam or cellular concrete.

Recycled Materials From The Site – Concrete
Climate Positive Design - Recycled Materials From The Site – Concrete Icon

Concrete, Asphalt

Seating areas, pathways, trails.

Prevents C02 emitted from offhauling. Minimal embodied carbon due to re-use.

Recycled Materials From The Site – Asphalt
Climate Positive Design - Recycled Materials From The Site – Asphalt Icon

Concrete, Stone, Asphalt

Can be ground into aggregate base.

Prevents C02 emitted from offhauling.

Recycled Materials From The Site – Stone
Climate Positive Design - Recycled Materials From The Site – Stone Icon

Concrete, Asphalt

Can be ground into aggregate or kept in larger pieces for pathways.

Minimal embodied carbon due to re-use.

Aggregates
Climate Positive Design - Aggregates Icon

Concrete, Stone, Asphalt

Seating areas, pathways, trails.

Lower embodied carbon than other paving materials.

Type
Substitute For
Description
Benefit
Wood
Climate Positive Design - Wood Icon

Aluminum, Steel, Concrete

Minimize amount of concrete footings. Do not specify tropical hardwoods to protect our carbon rich rainforests. Specify local source if possible.

C02 is stored in wood and remains there as long as its integrity is maintained.

Rammed Earth
Climate Positive Design - Rammed Earth Icon

Aluminum, Steel, Concrete

Minimize amount of concrete footings.

Recycled Materials From The Site – Boulders
Climate Positive Design - Recycled Materials From The Site – Boulders Icon

Prevents C02 emitted from offhauling.

Prevents embodied carbon of imported materials.

Type
Substitute For
Description
Benefit
Afforestation
Climate Positive Design - Afforestation Icon

Removing Trees / Deforestation

Deciduous slightly higher sequestration than evergreen trees. Specify tall trees 35+ feet.

Habitat, water infiltration, biophilia.

Constructed Wetlands
Climate Positive Design - Constructed Wetlands Icon

Only construct where natural water source exists.

Habitat, water infiltration, biophilia.

Tiny Forests
Climate Positive Design - Tiny Forests Icon

Wide Tree And Plant Spacing

Use tree plant spacing that exists in natural forests rather than typical plant spacing guidelines.

Habitat, water infiltration, biophilia.

Native and Adaptive Planting / Long-Lived Trees, Shrubs, Plants
Climate Positive Design - Native and Adaptive Planting / Long-Lived Trees, Shrubs, Plants Icon

Lawn, Large Areas of Paved Open Space High Maintenance Landscapes that require Equipment – Lawn, Hedges

Select species that have longer growing seasons in your region.

Habitat, irrigation reduction, water infiltration, biophilia.

Multi-layered Planting Strategies
Climate Positive Design - Multi-layered Planting Strategies Icon

Single-layer Planting

Lower, mid, and upper story trees and plants.

Habitat, irrigation reduction, water infiltration, biophilia, possibly food sources.

Green Roofs
Climate Positive Design - Green Roofs Icon

Traditional Roofs, Dark Colored Roofs

Cooling the floor below by up to 50% and reducing cooling energy needs. Extensive green roofs with minimal/no foam and paving are ideal.

Habitat, biophilia.

Vines
Climate Positive Design - Vines Icon

Architectural Walls

Used to increase sequestration in areas with limited horizontal space.

Habitat, biophilia.

No-mow Grass, Meadow
Climate Positive Design - No-mow Grass, Meadow Icon

Lawn

Specify native, drought-tolerant, and low water use where possible.

Habitat, irrigation reduction, water infiltration, biophilia, possibly food sources.

Bamboo
Climate Positive Design - Bamboo Icon

Limited or Short Planting in Constrained Areas

Super sequesterer. Avoid where invasive or contain roots. Use as a regenerative building material.

Building material, habitat, water infiltration, biophilia.

Type
Substitute For
Description
Benefit
Coastal Wetlands – Salt Marshes, Mangroves, Sea Grasses
Climate Positive Design - Coastal Wetlands – Salt Marshes, Mangroves, Sea Grasses Icon

Removing Wildlands, Formal Landscapes

Only implement in locations/climates as appropriate.

Habitat, water infiltration, biophilia, sea level rise protection, storm water and wastewater filtration.

Forests
Climate Positive Design - Forests Icon

Removing Wildlands, Formal Landscapes

Only implement in locations/climates as appropriate.

Habitat, water infiltration, biophilia.

Type
Substitute For
Description
Benefit
Compost
Climate Positive Design - Compost Icon

Chemical Fertilizers, especially those including Nitrous Oxide (N20)

Spread over the soil, it will improve soil quality by adding carbon.

Nitrous oxide (N20) commonly found in typical fertilizers is 300 times more potent than C02. Minimizing its use is extremely important.

Biochar Amendments
Climate Positive Design - Biochar Amendments Icon

Chemical Fertilizers, especially those including Nitrous Oxide (N20)

Store C02 of decomposed biomass. Mixed into the soil, it will improve soil quality by adding carbon.

Nitrous oxide (N20) commonly found in fertilizers has 300 times worse global warming potential (GWP) than C02. Minimizing its use is extremely important. Potentially reduces waste production, improves fertility, sequesters carbon. Increasing the carbon in the soil will increase the quality.

Organic Fertilizers
Climate Positive Design - Organic Fertilizers Icon

Chemical Fertilizers, especially those including Nitrous Oxide (N20)

Nitrous oxide (N20) commonly found in fertilizers has 300 times worse global warming potential (GWP) than C02. Minimizing its use is extremely important. Potentially reduces waste production, improves fertility, sequesters carbon. Increasing the carbon in the soil will increase the quality.

Wood Mulch
Climate Positive Design - Wood Mulch Icon

Gravel Mulch

Saves water, improves soil quality, combats pests, stops weeds, prevents the release of N20 into the atmosphere if it already exists in the soil.

Existing Soil Amended In Place
Climate Positive Design - Existing Soil Amended In Place Icon

Import Soil

Prevents C02 emitted from removing and importing soil. Maintain soil habitat.

Cover Crops
Climate Positive Design - Cover Crops Icon

Leaving Soil Exposed

Plant cover crops while soil is exposed while waiting to plant. Includes legumes, grasses, brassicas, and buckwheat.

Prevents release of carbon from soil exposure to the air. Keeps carbon in the soil, maintaining soil quality.

Type
Substitute For
Description
Benefit
Cool Roofs
Climate Positive Design - Cool Roofs Icon

Dark Colored Roofs

Can be as simple as painting a roof white.

Reflects solar rays cooling the floor below and reducing cooling needs.

Low Maintenance Landscapes
Climate Positive Design - Low Maintenance Landscapes Icon

High Maintenance Landscapes such as Lawn and Hedges

Consider native and/or adaptive planting strategies that require less maintenance and fertilizers.

Habitat, lower water use, lower fertilizer and pesticide use.

Electric Or Hand Powered Equipment
Climate Positive Design - Electric Or Hand Powered Equipment Icon

Fossil Fuel Powered Maintenance Equipment – Mowers, Blowers, Chainsaws, Trimmers

Less fossil fuel required.

Organic Fertilizer
Climate Positive Design - Organic Fertilizer Icon

Fertilizers with Nitrous Oxide (N20)

Nitrous oxide (N20) commonly found in fertilizers has 300 times worse global warming (GWP) than C02. Minimizing its use is extremely important.

Design Strategies that Minimally Impact the Soil – Boardwalks, Elevated Pathways, Found/ Existing/ Recycled Materials already On Site – Recycled Concrete, Asphalt Boulders, Wood Etc.
Climate Positive Design - Design Strategies that Minimally Impact the Soil Icon

Soil disturbance from excessive grading. New materials that must be delivered to a site.

Minimizing soil disturbance keeps carbon in the soil. When soils are disturbed, the organic matter dies as is exposed to the air. This causes the release of carbon into the atmosphere which combined with oxygen form Co2.

When carbon is kept in the soil, the quality is higher – more organic life exists within it.

Wood Re-use
Climate Positive Design - Wood Re-use Icon

Removing Trees And Burning Or Mulching

Re-use wood on site for exterior or for interior use.

Prevents c02 emitted from offhauling if interior, the amount of carbon sequestered remain int he material.

Minimizing Pruning
Climate Positive Design - Minimizing Pruning Icon

Removing Large Amounts Of Tree Biomass From Pruning (Specify Disposal At Cogeneration Or Biochar Facility)

Continue to maintain safety. Minimize excessive pruning beyond that.

Carbon remains in the wood while it is alive or decomposition is prevented.