Research Assistant Opportunity

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Join the Carbon Leadership Forum to lead new research to support the Washington State Department of Transportation to decarbonize infrastructure!

The Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) is an industry-academic collaborative working with thousands of cross-sector professionals from across the world to accelerate the transformation of the building sector and radically reduce the carbon emissions associated with building materials and construction.

Climate change and building decarbonization are complex and multi-stakeholder problems. Accelerating the adoption of low-carbon products, design strategies, and policies that can make a real impact on the climate crisis requires collective action. The CLF was founded to direct and empower such work. The CLF network is made up of architects, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, real estate professionals, and policymakers who work collaboratively to pioneer research, create resources and incubate member-led initiatives for the greatest collective impact.

This spring/summer/fall, the Carbon Leadership Forum is seeking a research fellow (RA) to support research on the carbon emissions of transportation infrastructure. Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Construction of Transportation Infrastructure Transportation infrastructure uses large quantities of concrete, steel, and asphalt. All of these materials have a high carbon footprint. When it comes to climate change, State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have the potential to encourage regional uptake and availability of low-carbon options for these carbon-intensive materials, since DOTs are reliable customers for high volumes of these materials.

This project is aimed at helping state transportation agencies 1) understand the carbon footprints of their projects, and 2) implement strategies and programs to help reduce their construction-related greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these strategies are readily-available and low-cost, while others utilize more innovative technologies or engineering approaches.

This project will involve collaborating with WSDOT to gather data on their construction materials and propose improvements to their material procurement procedures. This project will also involve using the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s Pavement Life Cycle Assessment Tool to perform case studies on several WSDOT projects. Project work will also entail becoming familiar with the scientific and policy literature on the carbon emissions of transportation infrastructure. Research tasks include:
1. Perform an emissions analysis to establish baseline values for greenhouse gas emissions per unit of common materials purchased by WSDOT, using life cycle assessment data and environmental product declarations

2. Perform interviews and literature review to identify cost-effective, implementable strategies for addressing transportation infrastructure carbon hotspots.

3. Pilot the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)’s Pavement Life Cycle Assessment Tool on one or more pilot projects provided by WSDOT.

4. Co-author a report summarizing findings and identifying next steps reducing embodied carbon at WSDOT.

5. Co-author a toolkit for the Carbon Leadership Forum website that includes (1) short, accessible educational resources for transportation agencies on reducing embodied carbon, (2) case studies, (3) key resources from other organizations, and (4) a list of available tools.

Employment Terms and Eligibility
● Remote employment, flexible hours
● 20 hours a week between Spring 2022 – Fall 2022. Work can begin in Spring or Summer of 2022. Start and end dates to be negotiated.
● This position requires a candidate with a deep interest in the subject material and willingness to explore new topics and subject areas

● Required skills and experience:
o Basic knowledge of civil and transportation engineering
o Basic knowledge of materials used in transportation infrastructure
o Ability to work independently
o Good writing and research skills
o Good written and oral communication skills

● Desired skills:
o Professional experience in the civil engineering field
o Understanding of performance aspects of transportation infrastructure (roadways, bridges)

To apply, send a statement of interest, resume and names and contact information for three references to by Monday, 02/28/2022.