Materials Decarbonization and Sustainability Program

This program is a new, non-profit entity for advanced research to tackle the complex challenges of meeting decarbonization goals for building materials. Housed at the University of California Davis, this research hub supports creation of breakthrough technologies (simultaneously addressing material performance and life cycle greenhouse gas fluxes) and links research straight to policy recommendations. 

Using a life-cycle approach considering extraction, manufacturing, use, function and end-of-life management to comprehensively address sustainability and functional requirements, this program addresses novel materials development, life cycle environmental impacts, effects on localized resources and populations, policy implications of materials decarbonization, and advancements for current practice (e.g., novel construction methods and engineering code development).

The research hub acts as a catalyst to bring UC researchers across the campus together to develop robust interdisciplinary solutions and connect with relevant industry, government, and non-profit stakeholders. The initiation of this program is laying the foundation for transformative work that will place UC Davis at the nation’s forefront of advanced building materials engineering to counter climate change. 

The Materials Decarbonization and Sustainability Program is headed by Professor Sabbie Miller of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis.


Achieving net-zero emissions is critical to avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. This goal cannot be accomplished through reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions alone and will rely on carbon capture and utilization or storage (CCUS). The production of materials has been estimated at ~1/4 of global CO2 emissions, with the majority of these emissions coming from the production of building materials [1]. To overcome these emissions challenges, we must better understand drivers in materials production, their emissions sources, mechanisms to decarbonize conventional materials, ways to engineer low-carbon alternatives, and the economics and policies to help drive implementation.

[2] calculated based on cement production from [3] and an estimate that concrete production is approximately 7.5 times larger (note, here we are including all cement-based materials in the term “concrete”)
[5] calculated based on ; assuming a brick weighs 2kg
[6] calculated based on bitumen production from and an estimate that asphalt concrete pavement is approximately AAA times larger