Refurbishment and adaptive reuse have been at the forefront of architectural discourse in recent years. This demonstrates that the profession is becoming increasingly aware of its impact on the environment and the opportunities presented by reusing what has already been built. Architecture 2030 has recently launched CARE, or Carbon Avoided Retrofit Estimator, a new digital tool that enables designers, owners, and communities to quantify the carbon benefits of adaptive reuse. By entering a streamlined set of project information, such as energy targets and potential building interventions, users can quickly estimate both operational carbon emissions generated by the use of the building and embodied carbon emissions, which are tied to the building materials employed.
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CARE, a New Digital Tool, Helps Designers Quantify the Value of Reuse Versus New Construction
Understanding Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment for a Better Architecture
To initiate change of any kind, one must first be aware of the problem at hand. In the construction industry –which is responsible for 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions and countless other environmental impacts– mastering and understanding the numbers related to its processes is extremely important. But assessing the impact of a product or a material is much more complex than one might think. It includes the exhaustive collection of data about its inputs (for example, the raw materials, energy, and water used) and outputs (such as emissions and waste) associated with each stage of the life cycle. This allows for the quantification of the embodied carbon and other environmental impacts, the identification of where performance can be improved, and provides real numbers for a comprehensive and unified comparison between materials and products.
The Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (wbLCA) method studies the totality of products present in a building, providing valuable information for decision-making related to the design, construction, operation, maintenance, and eventual demolition or reuse of a building. In other words, it refers to the totality of the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) for all of the building's components. Recently, the National Research Council of Canada, in collaboration with the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, released the national guidelines for wbLCA, which reflect what is practiced in North America. The aim is to harmonize the practice and to aid interpretation and compliance with relevant standards, with the guidelines being updated periodically as it evolves, enabling the calculation of reliable baselines or benchmarks, supporting LCA-based compliance schemes and assisting in the development and use of wbLCA software.
Abandoned Airport near Athens, Greece, Set to be Transformed into Europe’s Largest Coastal Park
The Athens International Airport was decommissioned in 2001, leading to two decades of work for the local government to establish funding and a governance mechanism to transform the 600 acres of unused space into Europe’s largest coastal park. The site has a layered history, from prehistoric settlements to the construction of the airport in the 20th century and the site being used for as an Olympic venue in 2004. Architecture office Sasaki is leading the design to transform the site again and create the Ellinikon Metropolitan Park, a restorative landscape and climate-positive design that will serve as a park, playground, and cultural center for the city of Athens. Developers are planning to break ground early next year.
Lina Ghotmeh Selected as Designer of the 2023 Serpentine Pavilion, with a Proposal Aiming for the Smallest Possible Carbon Footprint
Beirut-born, Paris-based architect Lina Ghotmeh has been announced as the designer of the 22nd annual Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Titled “À Table,” the French expression for sitting together to eat, her proposal introduces a slender wooden structure with nine pleated petals supported by radial ribs. Inside the pavilion, a ring of tables and benches invites visitors to enter, sit down and relax, eat or work together. According to the architect, the modest space and low-slung canopy is meant to make people feel close to the earth. The Serpentine Pavilion will be open from June to October 2023.
New Web-Based Tool Assists Architects in the Early Phases of Planning Climate Positive Buildings
EHDD has recently launched the Early-Phase Integrated Carbon (EPIC) Assessment tool, a free new web-based application developed to designers set goals and strategies to reduce carbon emissions from building and construction projects. The tool aims to fill a gap in the life-cycle assessment process and allow designers to identify the most impactful measures early in the project process. At the same time, other resources like Tally and EC3 are seen as crucial later in the design.
Studio Gang and Urban Villages Design First Carbon Positive Hotel in the United States
To celebrate Earth Day, real estate developers Urban Villages and Studio Gang have unveiled and broken ground on "Populus", the first carbon positive hotel in the United States. Set to open in late 2023, the 265-room hotel in Denver features a rooftop restaurant and bar, designed as a significant milestone for the future of sustainable travel that meets the needs of travelers, the community, and the environment.
What Can We Learn About Zero Carbon From Lelé’s Work?
The Zero Carbon policy is intended to create a kind of ecological balance to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions. Several studies report that the construction sector is one of the main responsible for the unbalance in which we find ourselves today, after all, it consumes natural resources on a gigantic scale and still builds buildings that do not collaborate with the maintenance of the environment. Therefore, searching for paths towards a carbon neutral architecture has become fundamental and one of them is learning from past masters, such as the Brazilian architect João Filgueiras Lima, known as Lelé.
Understanding the Scales of Carbon Emissions: Who Makes the Most Impact?
Carbon footprints and CO2 emissions are large topics in our conversations about how we create a more sustainable future. Over time, different companies, organizations, and individuals have pledged to alter their lifestyles and habits to make changes that show that they are dedicated to combating climate change. Especially in the design industry, where buildings generate nearly 40% of annual CO2 emissions broken down between daily operations and construction/demolition, architects have long been feeling the pressure of exploring ways to prove that we are doing our part.
When we take a look at the different scales of emissions, one question commonly occurs- how can we measure the different levels of impact? Is it on us individually to recycle and ensure we never use plastic straws again? Does this even have a major impact? Do more car manufacturers need to find alternates for gasoline-fueled automobiles? Do architects need to only source sustainable materials? What are the actionable steps that truly have an impact?
Can Exterior Green Walls Contribute to a Carbon Neutral Architecture?
A carbon neutral building is achieved when the amount of CO2 emissions is balanced by climate-positive initiatives so that the net carbon footprint over time is zero. Considering their unmatched ability to absorb CO2, planting trees is often viewed as the best carbon offsetting solution. But as cities become denser and the amount of available horizontal space for green areas drastically reduces, architects have been forced to explore other approaches. Therefore, to address these climatic challenges and connect people to nature, exterior green walls have become a rising trend in increasingly vertical cities. Even if there is research to claim that these can positively impact the environment, many question if they can actually contribute to a carbon neutral architecture. Although the answer may be quite complex, there seems to be a consensus: green walls can be effective, but only through good design.
How Can Concrete Construction and Sustainability Truly Coexist?
Concrete and sustainability are two words that are often considered incompatible. Used as early as the Roman era, concrete has shaped much of our built environment, being the most widely used manufactured material in the planet thanks to its resistance, versatility, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility, among other inherent benefits. Its popular use in buildings and infrastructure forms the foundations of cities, connects communities, and will continue to play a vital role in providing solutions to the challenges of the future – especially as cities must respond to a growing global population. But with cement as its key ingredient, it also comes with several environmental costs, being responsible for at least 8% of the world’s carbon emissions in a climate-change context. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. With the rise of innovative technologies and products, there are many ways to make concrete greener.
Ithaca, New York Will Decarbonize All 6,000 of the City’s Buildings
Last week, the Common Council of Ithaca, New York, voted to approve a first-in-the-nation decarbonization plan in which the roughly 6,000 homes and buildings located within the notably “enlightened” lakeside college town will be electrified to meet goals established by the city’s impressively aggressive Green New Deal (GND) plan. That carbon-neutral-by-2030 GND plan was adopted unanimously by the Common Council in June 2019 to “address climate change, economic inequality, and racial injustice,” per the city.
Plant Prefab and Koto Design Unveil Two Net-Zero Prefabricated Houses
Dedicated to sustainability, Plant Prefab has partnered up with Koto Design to create 2 new Net-Zero LivingHomes. The prefabricated modular homes inspired by Scandinavian architecture, embrace biophilic and sustainable living.
The Age of Travel is Over
Modernism always wanted to have it both ways: on the one hand, modernist architecture was supposed to be, in theory, the same in all places; that's one reason why modernism in architecture was also called the International Style. If all modernist buildings look the same, when you see one you have seen them all: no need for further travel. Yet throughout the 20th century modernist culture and technology enthusiastically endorsed and favored travel. In the 60s we traveled to the Moon, and civil aviation made the world smaller. In modernist culture, travel was good. It made all travelers better, happier humans. It was good to learn foreign languages and to go see distant places. High modernist travel was not only good; it was also cool. The jet setters of the 60s were the coolest citizens of the world. Even later in the 20th century the general expectation was that borderless, seamless travel would keep getting easier and more frequent. Most Europeans of my generation grew up learning two or more foreign languages, and it was not unusual until recently to be born in one country, to study in another, and find one's first job in a third one. That was seen as an opportunity, not as a deprivation.
How Ecologically Detrimental is Concrete?
Concrete has long been considered particularly harmful to the environment. However, Architect Magazine recently published an article on Nature Geoscience, which may offer some concrete (pun intended) findings regarding the issue.