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Sustainability: The Latest Architecture and News

Google’s Bay View Campus Designed by BIG and Heatherwick Studio Opens in Silicon Valley, California

Google’s first ground-up campus, designed by BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studios in collaboration with Google’s design and engineering teams, opened in Silicon Valley. The campus’ mission is to create a human-centric design for the future of Google’s workplace and set new global sustainability standards for construction and office design. The site aims to operate entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030; it integrates the most extensive geothermal pile system in North America and is net-water positive. The campus also includes 17 acres of high-value natural areas, including wet meadows, woodlands, and marsh.

© Iwan Baan© Iwan Baan© Iwan Baan© Iwan Baan+ 11

Self-powered Homes That Pay for Themselves by Producing Clean Energy

Courtesy of Cosmic Buildings
Courtesy of Cosmic Buildings

Now that the effects of climate change are visible and indisputable, consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever. In fact, as a United Nations 2021 study suggests, 85% of them reveal that sustainability plays a key role when making their purchase decisions, motivating businesses and manufacturers to respond accordingly. This explains the rising demand for electric vehicles and products made of renewable or recyclable materials. However, architecture – and especially traditional housing – seems to be several steps behind compared to other industries. Although there are numerous efforts to move towards a greener built environment, the way most buildings are made today continues to be outdated, creating tremendous amounts of waste and significantly contributing to the global carbon footprint.

Climate-Smart Furniture: The Story Behind a 100% Sustainable Lounge Chair

Since the early 2000s, it has been widely reported that the construction industry accounts for nearly 40% of the planet’s CO2 emissions. The role of interiors in that percentage has been historically underestimated, with common statistics suggesting that a project’s furniture, fixtures and equipment are only responsible for about 7 to 10% of its overall carbon footprint. However, new research notably indicates the contrary: in a building’s average life span, the carbon footprint of its interiors will equal – if not exceed – that of the structure and envelope. Interior design, to the surprise of many, has actually been doing great harm.

Health and Nutrition: 9 Ways for Architecture and Urbanism to Act Towards Healthier Realities

On March 31st, the Health and Nutrition Day is celebrated in Brazil, factors that are gaining more and more notoriety in the society in which we live. After more than two years living through the ups and downs of the Covid-19 pandemic and facing the evident need for a healthier, more active and community reality, it is important to reflect on how architecture and urbanism can become tools for accessing healthier daily lives.

Reurbanização do Sapé / Base Urbana + Pessoa Arquitetos. Image © Pedro VannucchiEsferas da Amazon / NBB. Image © Bruce Damonte Architectural PhotographerIntervenção TransBorda / Estúdio Chão . Image © Renato MangolinPraça da Árvore / Lazo Arquitetura e Urbanismo. Image © Morgana Nunes+ 19

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.

© Studio Gang© Studio Gang© Studio Gang© Studio Gang+ 6

Earth Day 2022: The World's Progress towards Achieving Sustainable Architecture

As the climate crisis continues to present itself as a significant threat to the future of the ecosystem and built environment, this year's IPCC report, titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, found that while adaptation efforts are being observed across all sectors, the progress being implemented so far is greatly uneven, as there are gaps between the actions taken and what is needed. On this year's Earth Day, we explore the progress being made by governments and architects to achieve net-zero operations within the next decades.

Hospital Sarah Kubitschek Salvador / João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé).. Image © Nelson KonZero Cottage / David Baker Architects. Image © Matthew Millman Photography© Joe FletcherBee Bricks. Image Courtesy of Green&Blue+ 6

A Carbon-Neutral Architecture Goes Beyond Construction Materials: Planning, Logistics and Context

Discussing carbon neutrality in architecture should not only be based on local materials and new technologies, since there are many aspects that impact the construction production chain. From design to construction, without losing sight of the context and economic system of our society, the construction industry is responsible for a considerable part of the energy consumed worldwide. In order to interfere in this reality, it is necessary to expand the fronts of action, questioning the place of construction in our society.

Hotel Xiangshawan Desert Lotus / PLaT Architects. Image Cortesia de PLaT ArchitectsEdifício 78 Corlett Drive / Daffonchio and Associates . Image © Adam LetchJardim Botânico VanDusen / Perkins+Will . Image Cortesia de Perkins & WillColapso da represa de minério de ferro de Brumadinho, Janeiro de 2019. Imagem via Daily Overview. . Image © Maxar Technologies – Westminster, Colorado+ 5

Metaverse vs. Sustainability: How can the Metaverse Help us Deliver Better Designs?

With the recent Metaverse hype, let's address the elephant in the room! As more and more people dance around the subject of weather or not it is harmful for sustainably-conscious architecture designers to utilize the Metaverse, I decided to interview Oliver Lowrie, a Director at Ackroyd Lowrie, an award-winning London-based architecture practice dedicated to building the cities of the future, who is already using this technology to enhance Ackroyd Lowrie’s low-energy designs.

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.

Hospital Sarah Kubitschek Salvador / João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé). Foto: © Nelson KonResidência RP / João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé). Foto: © Joana FrançaMemorial Darcy Ribeiro - Beijódromo / João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé). Foto: © Joana FrançaHospital Sarah Kubitschek Salvador / João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé). Foto: © Nelson Kon+ 13

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?

How To Create a Sustainable Future: Green Levers for the Building and Construction Industry

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Climate change, the scarcity of resources, and urbanisation are hot topics in the building and construction industry. In this context, the importance of sustainability cannot be overemphasised: almost 40% of global CO2 emissions and 36% of global energy usage is associated with building and construction. These figures clearly illustrate the increasing need for more sustainable solutions in the industry. 

Companies that play an active role in the building industry have a responsibility to pave the way toward a more sustainable future. This is why partners like Uponor, one of the leading international providers of solutions that move water for buildings and infrastructure, strive to help customers in Europe to choose the perfect solutions for greener building designs. 

50 Shades of Green: The Contradictions of Greenwashing in Architecture

Nowadays everything is “painted” green. It's green packaging, green technologies, green materials, green cars and, of course, green architecture. A “green wave”, stimulated by the environmental and energy crisis we are facing, with emphasis on climate change and all the consequences linked to global warming. This calamitous situation is confirmed by the second part of the report entitled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and presented in recent weeks. It reveals that, although adaptation efforts are being observed in all sectors, the progress implemented so far is very low, as the actions taken are not enough.

Novo relatório do IPCC destaca impactos e vulnerabilidades ligados às mudanças climáticas. favela em Bangladesh. Imagem cortesia de UN HabitatFoto de <a href="https://unsplash.com/@brian_yuri?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Brian Yurasits</a> via <a href="https://unsplash.com/?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>   Foto de <a href="https://unsplash.com/@chuttersnap?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">CHUTTERSNAP</a> via <a href="https://unsplash.com/?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>   Foto de <a href="https://unsplash.com/@thinkwynn?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Siân Wynn-Jones</a> via <a href="https://unsplash.com/?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>   + 7

Can Exterior Green Walls Contribute to a Carbon Neutral Architecture?

London's Largest "Living Wall" / Gary Grant. Image Courtesy of Green Roof Consultancy and Treebox
London's Largest "Living Wall" / Gary Grant. Image Courtesy of Green Roof Consultancy and Treebox

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.