All posts in Sustainability

Placeholder Alt Text

Fiber Intake

MIT lab creates sculptural pavilion made with dissolvable panels
Less than 10 percent of the billions of tons of plastic ever produced has been recycled, with much of it winding up in the Earth's oceans where the plastic disrupts ecosystems and releases toxic chemicals. In response, researchers led by Neri Oxman of MIT’s Mediated Matter Group, which focuses on “nature-inspired design and design-inspired nature,” have devised a new materials that they say, in somewhat biblical terms, go “from water to water.” The substances include a structure made of biocomposite skins derived from cellulose, chitosan, and pectin, some of the most abundant biopolymers on earth, in everything from tree branches to insect exoskeletons to common fruits to human bones. The researchers have put these new composites to the test in a 16-foot-tall pavilion named Aguahoja I (literally, water-sheet in Spanish), the culmination of six years of intense research into material science and robotic fabrication. Panels, comprising a top layer of chitosan and cellulose with a bottom layer of apple pectin and chitosan, were 3D-printed in various compositions to affect their rigidity and strength, color and color-changing abilities, transparency, and responses to heat and humidity, as well as their load-bearing abilities. This means, according to the lab, that the materials are functionally "programmable." Because of this variability, a variety of facade or load-bearing structural components can be generated from the same process, and the size is limited only by that of the printer. This “water-based digital fabrication” is intended to create a situation in which form, function, and fabrication are more closely linked, working in a way that mimics how the natural world designs itself; the result is “a continuous construction modeled after human skin—with regions that serve as structure, window, and environmental filter,” said the lab. In a display at the MIT Media Lab, the pavilion was shown along with a library of materials with various colors, shades, and structural properties, and an array of custom hardware, software, and wetware. The pavilion has been acquired by SFMOMA for its permanent collection, and a second version, Aguahoja II, will appear in the Cooper Hewitt’s design triennial, themed “Nature,” which opens next month. When structures made of these materials have run their course, the materials can be dissolved in water, returning natural materials to the environment with relatively little harm or disruption, much like any organic object in a naturally occurring ecosystem that decays and returns to be reused by the life that relies on it. For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit techplusexpo.com/nyc/.
Placeholder Alt Text

Waterfront Forest

3XN reveals North America’s tallest timber office tower for Toronto
Danish studio 3XN has revealed renderings of its latest addition to the Toronto waterfront, a 10-story timber office tower. Once complete, T3 Bayside will be not only the third 3XN tower to spring up in Bayside but also the tallest timber office building in all of North America. The 138-foot-tall office building is being developed by the international firm Hines and will provide office space for the 2,000-acre Bayside redevelopment (not to be confused with Sidewalk Labs’ nearby “Quayside” project). T3 Bayside, and its adjoining plaza, will join 3XN’s two nearby residential towers, and according to the developer, the development is expected to cement Bayside’s status as a live-work neighborhood. Using cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the tower’s frame allowed 3XN to reduce both projected construction costs as well as the building’s embodied energy. The structural timber will be left exposed inside, creating a warm interior that, according to 3XN, will also regulate the indoor humidity as the wood absorbs and releases moisture. 3XN has wrapped the building in vertically-oriented exterior louvers, that are partially interrupted to create a stair-like pattern of terraces across the facade—a design flourish that’s becoming increasingly common among office buildings. T3 Bayside is expected to welcome up to 3,000 tenants across a variety of coworking and community spaces, and flexibility was a major design driver. Double-height adjustable spaces that directly connect to the lobby, event and community spaces, more traditional offices, and communal “social” zones will all be mixed. From the renderings, it appears that T3 Bayside will also integrate parking on its second floor. A new plaza at the tower’s base will connect cafes, lobbies, exhibition and gallery spaces, and retail at T3 Bayside’s base with the larger Bayside development. 3XN hopes that by activating the ground-level, the design can lead visitors to the waterfront promenade along Lake Ontario. No estimated completion date or budget for the project have been released as of yet.
Placeholder Alt Text

Salvage Swings

Somewhere Studio uses reclaimed CLT for 2019 City of Dreams pavilion
The average swingset, built in backyards and playgrounds across the country, features loads of metal and plastic. Somewhere Studio, a young firm based in Arkansas, is unintentionally turning that unsustainable construction on its head with Salvage Swings, a series of swing modules made from reclaimed timber. Coming to Roosevelt Island this summer, the project is the official 2019 City of Dreams Pavilion winner, selected through a competition hosted annually by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Structural Engineers Association of New York, and FIGMENT, a local arts organization. Salvage Swings was born out of the University of Arkansas’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and its Fabrication Laboratories. Jessica Colangelo and Charles Sharpless, founders of Somewhere Studio, teach at the Fayetteville campus and conceived of the project last year as a way to reuse the wood leftover from the construction of the school’s new student housing project, Stadium Drive Residence Halls. The 200,000-square-foot mass timber building, designed by local firm Modus Studio, as well as Mackey Mitchell Architects, Leers Weinzapfel Associates, and OLIN, using cross-laminated timber and glulam-panels from Binderholz, an Austrian manufacturer that ships its products on sacrificial palettes also made of CLT. Somewhere Studio is taking these palettes and using them for the pop-pup playspace in New York. According to Sharpless, the palettes are perfect products to experiment with because they aren’t graded for commercial use. “Even though it’s a raw material that’s basically used for storage, it looks and behaves like processed cross-laminated timber,” he said. “When we began the project, it occurred to us that we had this big pile of wood staring at us that would otherwise be thrown away, so we decided we wanted to show off its quality and strength.” Designed to stand as a temporary public piece of interactive art, Salvage Swings will feature 12 individual swing modules that can be set up together to form a triangular communal space. Each module will be constructed from the palettes, which will be cut, cleaned, and sealed at UArk, and then painted with different patterns and colors to add personality. Sharpless noted the idea to create a swingset wasn’t top of mind at the start of the design process, but the use of salvaged timber heavily drove the form of the installation.   “The shape of the boxes is intended to provide some structural rigidity,” Sharpless said. “CLT is light, flexible, and you can work with it quickly. We angled each box so that when you’re looking at one from a single direction, it starts to flatten out. Then from another direction, it starts to heighten your perspective and create a sense of layers.” These changing perspectives also bring a sense of playfulness to the pavilion—a core goal that Somewhere Studio tries to achieve in its work. Repetition is another design move the firm often features. In the triangular shape of Salvage Swings, the repeating boxes provide unique frames for visitors to view Roosevelt Island and the surrounding city. While Salvage Swings is in-part an experiment in the effectiveness of CLT as an exterior construction material, the project is also a way to encourage fun. “We like the idea of engaging people who might not be attracted to an architectural or art installation or know immediately what ours is made of,” said Sharpless. “So it’s exciting to showcase this really beautiful product and educate the public about its strength. At the end of the day, though, we want people to have fun and, in particular, for children to gain a sense of play from the pavilion. They’re a great audience and I don’t think we’re designing enough for them.” Salvage Swings is currently accepting donations to build the project through a Kickstarter campaign, which ends on March 23. As of today, the project is fully funded. Now that the total money has been raised, Colangelo and Sharpless will construct the pavilion for the 2019 summer season on Roosevelt Island, collaborating with Taylor and Miller Architecture and Design on lighting for the modules, as well as Guy Nordenson and Associates on their structural engineering. Come fall, Salvage Swings will likely be broken down into parts, according to Sharpless, where a section will stay in New York and another will be set up in Arkansas.
Placeholder Alt Text

Green ‘Em if you got ‘em

California’s Building Decarbonization Coalition plans to green building operations
While politicians in Washington, D.C., spar over the estimated costs of implementing a Green New Deal, California’s Building Decarbonization Coalition (BDC) is making a plan and taking action. The Sacramento-based group recently released a report, A Roadmap to Decarbonize California Buildings, which sets out a series of guiding principles and quantitative targets that could help the state meet its aggressive emissions reductions standards. As BDC’s name suggests, the group has targeted buildings, which in California produce roughly 26 percent of total carbon emissions, as a key area for improvement as the state works to eliminate carbon emissions entirely by 2045. California’s greenhouse gas emissions peaked in the early 2010s at nearly 500 million tons of pollution per year and have dropped slightly every year since. California even met its 2020 emissions goals several years early, mainly as a result of the ongoing build-out of previously-planned renewable energy infrastructure and due to the realization of energy conservation goals, among other efforts. But now, with the low-hanging fruit picked, reality is starting to set in: The road to zero emissions is going to be long and hard-fought, and California needs a concrete, coordinated plan to achieve its ambitious and necessary climate goals. But don’t let those early gains fool you. Despite the progress, Panama Bartholomy, BDC director said via press release, “building emissions spiked 10 percent nationally in 2018, driving one of the largest national emissions increases in decades.”  Bartholomy added, “Yet even here in California, the nation’s climate leader, there is no plan in place to address these emissions.” The BDC hopes to change that. While state legislators work steadily to make increasing density—which will reduce transportation-related emissions—a higher priority in California’s cities, BDC aims to fine-tune the ongoing use, operation, and maintenance of the new and existing buildings that fill those cities. It is expected that California’s building stock will increase by 30 percent between now and 2045, a key opportunity to lock-in carbon emissions savings for the long term if all goes according to plan. A key approach for achieving this aim in the building sector, according to the group, is to reduce and eventually eliminate the reliance on natural gas-powered appliances like stoves, furnaces, water heaters, and other elements in new construction and in existing buildings as they are upgraded over time. This way, as the state’s energy grid draws more of its juice from renewable sources, emissions will fall two-fold due to a decrease in the use of dirty fuels in appliances as well further savings generated through the production of the new green energy sources that power them. As with many of the efforts to transition toward a zero-emission society, however, the challenges are cultural as well as technological. Conventional construction methods and business operations favor fossil fuel-powered appliances, for example, while consumers harbor their own preferences for gas stoves and other household items. To shift tastes and practices, BDC advocates for incentives over punitive measures. The group’s three-pronged effort seeks to first spur new demand in renewable powered appliances via new policies, public information campaigns, and financial incentives that support wider adoption of sustainable approaches. Once that demand is built up, the group advocates for lowering costs of individual products, like high-efficiency heat pumps, for example, through additional financial incentives so that cleaner technologies and appliances can compete with conventional approaches across price points. After that, the group envisions targeted informational and incentive campaigns that ensure wide adoption of these approaches by low-income and other hard-to-reach groups. With debate over national decarbonization strategies taking shape, keep an eye on California’s efforts to rework its building sector. Crucial lessons are sure to emerge as the plan comes to life.
Placeholder Alt Text

Wind Chill

Ancient technology gets an update in sustainable cooling solution
“The way we cool our buildings right now is totally wrong,” said Indian architect Monish Siripurapu in a video produced the United Nations' Environment program. The words are bleak, but arguably true; the electricity and hydrofluorocarbons most modern cooling systems demand ironically warm the planet overall while they cool our conditioned spaces. On top of that, with global temperatures rising and worldwide populations growing, demands for cooling are only increasing. More eco-friendly options are urgently needed, and Siripurapu’s New Delhi–based firm Ant Studio has proposed an affordable, scalable, sustainable, and aesthetically appealing solution to the problem of air conditioning. Ant Studio’s mission is to combine “art, nature, and technology,” and its temperature-regulating solution is designed to be as much an art installation as a cooling system. The Beehive, as the system's first iteration is called, was built to ameliorate high-temperature conditions for laborers at the Noida, Uttar Pradesh–based manufacturer Deki Electronics, where generators and other equipment output their own heat, adding to high outdoor temperatures. The Beehive is part of a larger exploration by the firm that leverages terracotta tubes and water as part of a low-energy cooling system. The Beehive, so-named for its honeycomb-like structure, follows an Indian tradition of using earthenware to cool water. “Traditional architecture has so much wisdom,” said Siripurapu. The ancient process has been wholly modernized, with tools such as computational fluid dynamics modeling, as well as the addition of low-energy water pumps and, if needed, electric fans. But instead of using fans with the Beehive installation, Ant Studio’s cooling device was placed right in front of the exhaust vents of the diesel generator near where workers at the factory were active. This was able to drop the “scorching” air being expelled from the generator from 122 degrees Fahrenheit to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, while lowering the overall temperature in the area and reportedly consuming 40 percent less energy than other cooling systems, not to mention using no refrigerants. The cooling system consists of arrays of open terracotta cylindrical cones (designed in such a way to maximize surface area and fired at “mid-level” temperatures to maintain the clay’s ability to absorb moisture from the air) over which water is poured. The water, which adheres to the clay, naturally lowers in temperature due to evaporative cooling, which in turn cools the air passing through the tubes. The water can be recycled throughout the system, requiring only infrequent topping off, and biofilms of microalgae that grow on the clay surfaces can actually aid in air purification, according to the firm. Further, as explained in an informational video from the firm, “all materials are recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable.” While the Beehive at Dika Electronics took on a particular nature-inspired form, the system can be designed in all manner of shapes and sizes, and is inherently modular, making fabrication and assembling on-site simple. The overall hope with the project is to devise a system that is functional and visually appealing at the same time.” Ant Studio views the cooling systems as a work of sculpture as much as a functional tool. The terracotta cooling systems also could have broader social impact. Besides being a cheap, energy-efficient way to cool factories and public spaces, the craft required to manufacture the tubes creates local employment and skill-building opportunities. It also keeps alive traditional manufacturing techniques that provide a unique, hand-hewn character that industrial cooling systems certainly lack. The clay-based materials also mean a net reduction in embodied energy for these cooling systems. Ant Studio has also proposed a smaller system which they’re calling ETHER, a cooling device for personal use and small spaces that resembles something like a cross between a Dyson fan and an ancient artifact. Ant Studio’s cooling projects were one of the twelve winners of the United Nations’ Asia-Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge and have been nominated for the Clean Energy Challenge from What Design Can Do, a “platform” and series of global conferences on design. Nominated teams are given the “opportunity to improve their project” with the final winners to be announced on March 6.
Placeholder Alt Text

That Big Forest in the Sky

North America’s tallest timber tower wins city support in Milwaukee
The tall timber arms race is heating up. On January 22, the Milwaukee City Council's City Plan Commission unanimously recommended that a requested rezoning at 700 East Kilbourn Avenue move ahead, clearing the first hurdle for the Korb & Associates Architects–designed, 21-story mass timber tower. The mixed-use Ascent’s first five stories would rise on cast-in-place concrete, with up to 8,100 square feet of ground-floor retail and four stories of enclosed parking above that. The remaining 15 stories would contain 205 rental units and be built from mass timber fastened with steel connectors. Korb & Associates plan on leaving the wooden elements exposed as an interior finish wherever possible. The 238-foot-tall tower is being developed by New Land Enterprises, which has partnered with Korb & Associates on a number of projects across Milwaukee previously. According to Urban Milwaukee, the developer hopes to break ground on the Ascent this year, assuming the rest of the approvals process continues apace. The rezoning for the site still needs approval from the city’s Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee. If Ascent’s design remains unchanged, it will slightly edge out Shigeru Ban’s 232-foot-tall hybrid timber Terrace House in Vancouver for the title of North America’s tallest timber building. According to partner and project architect Jason Korb, Ascent’s prefabricated timber components means that the top 16 floors can be installed in only four months. In a fire, the mass timber used for the structural elements will only char, not burn through, and Korb told Urban Milwaukee that, “The entire wood structure, and this would never happen, could burn down and the cores would be left standing.” Mass timber construction has been making slow progress in the United States compared to the rest of the world, but that may be about to change. The International Code Council, from which many state and local municipalities derive their building codes, recently embraced tall timber after two years of testing. With the new code adjustments in place, tall timber in the U.S. will only continue to rise.
Placeholder Alt Text

Tracking Paul Bunyon

Explore these maps of North America’s blooming timber industry
facadeplus_logo1
Brought to you with support from
This article originally appeared as part of our January 2019 print issue in the timber feature. The timber industry has long thrived on its small-scale, local nature due to the sourcing of its materials as well as the limits on project size set by the building code. With this has come a good deal of fragmentation and disorganization, so we decided to map out the different schools, organizations, and manufacturers that are leading the way in the research and development of mass timber across the United States and Canada.
Placeholder Alt Text

(Mass)ive Growth

The U.S. mass timber industry is maturing while it branches out

This article originally appeared as part of our January 2019 print issue in the timber feature.

President Donald Trump’s tariffs, enacted in November 2017, have not yet made a significant impact on the U.S. mass timber industry. But if Trump chooses to take more aggressive action in the next two years of his administration, this could dramatically change. This urgency, coupled with the recent global obsession with building tall wood structures, newly motivates American wood manufacturers to become independent of foreign suppliers. This would entail American manufacturers catching up in machine technology and production capacity to bolster domestic trade and support innovative architecture sourced from home.

What’s clear is that U.S. demand for wood buildings is there. The country’s largest producer of cross-laminated timber (CLT), SmartLam, has experienced such rapid growth since opening six years ago that it is building a new headquarters in Columbia Falls, Montana, and planning a second facility in Maine to supply what the industry thinks will be an influx of midrise construction in New York and other cities along the Eastern seaboard.

“The expansion here is simply driven by need,” said SmartLam CEO Casey Malmquist. “There’s always been a grassroots support for CLT in the U.S. and a recently increased interest in research and testing. But now we’re no longer speculating about whether it will work—it’s going mainstream.”

While similar Pacific Northwest companies like DR Johnson and Katerra, as well as firms such as LEVER Architecture and Michael Green Architecture, have long led the field, production is growing in uncharted territories. South Carolina–based LignaTerra is adding another plant in Maine, while Canadian leaders like Nordic Structures in Montreal and Structure Fusion in Québec City, which already supplied CLT to projects across the country, are now focusing more attention on supplying the eastern U.S. market. Production is even swelling in the South with Texas CLT LLC, which is reopening a mill in southwest Arkansas.

But pioneering European companies, which have historically dominated the market and supplied American developers, are now putting down roots in the U.S. Austrian giant KLH is partnering with International Beams’ new factory in Dothan, Alabama, by supplying it with glulam blanks. Having opened this past September, it is the first plant east of the Rocky Mountains to produce CLT in the country and will primarily utilize the unique Southern Yellow Pine native to the region.

These investments show that the race to build such production facilities is vital to the U.S. market becoming competitive with other countries. But many experts say we need to increase cultural acceptance of mass timber as well as get investors on board before the industry starts churning up a sizable profit.

“The real strategy is that the big manufacturers in Europe are focused on making franchises here,” said Alan Organschi, principal of Gray Organschi Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut. “They can produce higher quality products cheaper, even with overseas shipping, than manufacturers can in the U.S. and Canada.”

Organschi’s firm has been at the forefront of timber innovation for 20 years. He is confident the market is growing and will prove that by designing 6- to 14-story buildings, the sweet spot for mass timber construction. Dominique Briand, general manager of Canadian structural engineering firm Structure Fusion, is also optimistic about North America’s future, but feels certain that product-specific issues still need to be addressed before wood can match the quality of other structural materials like steel and concrete.

“The problem is the tools are not there,” Briand said. “There’s not enough manpower or knowledge to make or sell mass timber in the United States. Plus it’s a disorganized market, which creates a big gap between the product and the project.”

Briand believes that as long as timber is trendy, it will take young U.S.-based companies about five to ten more years to be competitive with Europe. In the meantime, architects, engineers, and educators are working to imagine groundbreaking designs at modest scales to ramp up domestic interest and encourage policy changes.

Many U.S. states are using financial incentives to entice manufacturers to locate to their respective regions. In Maine, both the state and federal governments have provided funding for the University of Maine’s extensive research to advance timber assemblies. Russell Edgar of the university’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center says the ultimate goal of this work is to organize the state’s supply chain in order to make Maine viable for these companies.

“People are talking a lot about South Carolina and Georgia since they grow trees like corn at such rapid rates,” he said. “But in Maine, we have proximity to these huge markets in New York and Boston, so we’re busy trying to find ways to get these companies here now.”

Sourcing timber products within 250 miles of a project is a huge advantage to practicing sustainability and boosting regional economies—not to mention a reason for rarely crossing borders for building materials. But a little competition is healthy, especially for lumber producers who want to bid in a fair marketplace.

“The more people there are, the better it will be,” said Briand. “I only worry that because we’re such a fast-evolving industry, a lot of companies will build huge facilities and focus solely on making and selling products. It’s not just about the products; it’s about creating strong business plans so the investment pays off.”

Placeholder Alt Text

Ban-ing Tall Timber

Shigeru Ban Architects burnishes its status as a leader in mass timber
Histories of innovation in modern building materials typically recount how muscular substances are sculpted in the hands of masters: Eiffel and his iron, Corb and his concrete, Gehry and his shiny titanium scales. Shigeru Ban Architects (SBA), on the other hand, has sought out some of the less heroic products of our age, sometimes using trash as inspiration for the next big thing in structural solutions; the firm works with humble materials, but its final creations are no less accomplished for it. Wood is one of these seemingly humdrum materials that SBA has long played with, but in the past decade or so, it has skillfully taken advantage of the material’s flexibility. SBA is quite literally taking timber structures to new heights, and is currently at work on both the tallest hybrid timber structure and the largest mass timber development in the world. With work around the world, the firm has pushed the possibilities of what glulam, cross-laminated timber, and other wood products can do—both formally and functionally—proving to skeptical local administrators that timber is a material that can meet and even exceed their building codes. It’s not every firm that has clients with the appetite to replicate some of SBA’s more adventurous projects, but still, the firm has some basic advice for working with timber: Dean Maltz, the partner in charge of SBA’s New York office, said that “timber forces you to collaborate with trades closely,” which, he stressed, is both a challenge and an opportunity. Because mass timber products are prefabricated off-site and still something of an anomaly in much of the United States, it is crucial from the beginning of the design process to work with experienced fabricators. That early investment in collaboration can pay off later, though—Maltz claimed that even the firm’s more complex timber designs were built much faster than comparable steel or concrete structures because timber components can be prefabricated with incredible dimensional precision. The firm’s use of timber is not arbitrary—rather, it uses wood tactically, albeit sometimes extravagantly, to meet aesthetic and practical goals. While international building codes can be something of a jungle when it comes to mass timber, SBA is blazing trails through the wilderness. Aspen Art Museum The Aspen Art Museum, which is essentially a big-box building, doesn’t go wild with formal gyrations. Instead, for this low-key Rocky Mountain ski town, SBA let the structure steal the show. A basket-woven wooden screen dapples circulation spaces along the perimeter with Colorado sun, and the firm’s trademark paper tubes make an appearance as playful interior walls and seating. But the firm’s ingenuity really shines in the massive exposed timber roof truss. The space frame–like system is cleverly composed of interlocking planar timber members that curve gently at corners, a detail that allows components to be joined by a single fastener. The resulting mesh allows light to filter down to the spaces below while bolstering the roof against the winter snowfall. Kentucky Owl Park SBA’s most recent commission in the U.S. is for a 420-acre distillery and recreational campus themed after Kentucky Owl bourbon. Like much of the firm’s work, the park’s design blends bold geometry with nods to historical motifs and materials: While the trio of identically sized pyramids at the center of the complex contrasts with the surrounding big sky bluegrass landscape, these exposed timber structures are redolent of 19th-century metalwork, the kind that might have enlivened the original Kentucky Owl distillery. Further, wood columns will be girded by metal loops as in traditional barrel construction, and trusses webbed with curves and loops will add a stylized flourish. Swatch Headquarters and Omega Facilities SBA’s forthcoming trio of Swiss buildings for a pair of watch manufacturers (sister companies under the Swatch Group) are a study in contrasts. The new production facilities for Omega are rectilinear and formal, structured by a precisely gridded matrix of exposed engineered timber. The new Swatch headquarters, however, snakes along the Suze River under an arched wood canopy that is punctuated by periodic distortions before leaping across a street to connect to the joint Swatch-Omega Museum, also designed by SBA. Upon its completion later this year, the complex will be the largest timber development in the world. Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse No single SBA project displays the versatility and formal possibilities of hybrid timber structures as much as the Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse, completed in September 2018 in northern Japan. The hotel’s spa sits under a low dome supported by timber beams spectacularly interwoven in the same pattern used in La Seine Musicale, while the hotel itself showcases a sober mix of timber, concrete, and brick components. But in a shared central building, a long, open space is covered with a thin pleated wood roof that floats as though it were nothing more than a piece of folded paper.
Placeholder Alt Text

Tropical Topic

Maldives resort makes solar panels stylish for a luxury private island
Hot on the heels of the world's first underwater resort opening in the Maldives, an upscale hotel has opened a building with a distinctive solar panel roof on a private island in the Indian Ocean archipelago. New York's Yuji Yamazaki Architecture (YYA), which also created the submarine building, designed the new destination, known as the Kudadoo Maldives Private Island. The architects claim that the 320-kilowatt-peak (kWp) capacity of the roof system is enough to power the entire resort and that the system will recoup its cost after five years of use. Other design touches, like gaps between the panels to allow filtered interior daylighting and an extensive canopy overhang for shading, aim to minimize power use. The Maldives, a low-lying collection of atolls in the middle of the ocean, are exceptionally sensitive to climate change and any subsequent sea-level rise. Some studies estimate that islands like the Maldives may be uninhabitable by the middle of the century as rising sea levels flood aquifers, damage infrastructure, and submerge livable space. This makes the use sustainable power sources like solar panels particularly salient for the area. YYA chose to celebrate the panels on the roof rather than minimizing them or trying to camouflage them among other materials. Visitors will primarily approach the resort by plane, and the panels will be one of the first things they see. Of course, rooms at the private island don't come cheap. A recent search showed rooms starting at $2400 a night.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cementing Climate Change

Concrete production produces eight percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions
Concrete is perhaps the most prolific and malleable construction material in the world, but our continued dependence on it may be contributing to climate change more than was previously known. The English international affairs think tank Chatham House recently released a report that attributed approximately eight percent of the planet’s annual carbon dioxide emissions to concrete production. The chemical processes used to create cement, burning limestone and clay in a high-temperature kiln and grinding the result, contributes the greatest share of emissions (though the collection of sand, a commonly used aggregate, has its own problems). With the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) complete, a “rulebook” for enacting the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change was agreed on by the 23,000 international delegates present. Even with a guide in place for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the problem with concrete is that demand is only expected to rise. Currently, the world produces 4.4 billion tons of concrete annually, but that number is expected to rise to over 5.5 billion tons by 2050 as poorer countries rapidly urbanize, according to the Chatham House report. For the concrete industry to fall in line with the Paris Agreement’s targets, emissions will need to fall 16 percent from current levels by 2030. The report argues that target is already an ambitious goal. The production of Portland cement, the kind most widely used today, has remained largely the same since the 1800s. Limestone and clay combine in the kiln to form carbon dioxide and “clinker,” a substrate then mixed with limestone and gypsum to create cement. According to Chatham House, research into “alternative clinker” and low-carbon production methods has thus far been slow going. Less energy-intensive kilns, new types of clinker, carbon capture technology, and switching to renewable energy during the production process will all be necessary “to achieve CO2 reductions consistent with at least a 50 percent chance of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100," according to the BBC. Timber, which sequesters the carbon dioxide absorbed by trees over their life, has slowly but surely made strides in replacing concrete in some projects. High-rise timber buildings have gotten a green light in Oregon, and continued research into carbon-neutral (or negative) projects is continuing apace.
Placeholder Alt Text

buildin' green

New building products from Greenbuild help to meet LEED standards
Meeting LEED standards isn’t easy. If you’re trying to design a healthy building environment, a great place to start is Greenbuild, the annual conference and expo dedicated to sustainability in the built environment. From November 20 to 22, professionals in architecture, design, construction, engineering, and planning flocked to Chicago's McCormick Place to learn more about environmentally friendly building materials and practices. You’ll find our favorite products that we saw below. Each answering to a different set of needs, they help to enhance building efficiency, human health and wellbeing, and promote sustainable design. Landmark Premium Double Hung Window  Silber Double hung?! Silber’s Landmark Premium Double Hung window opens in two directions: outward and downward. It is passive house–rated with thermal insulation and a multi-point locked, triple gasketed sash, making it airtight. Formawall with Halogen-Free Insulating Foam Core CENTRIA Dress up the facade and meet sustainability goals with Formawall. It can be used to make both vertical and horizontal designs. Better yet, the insulated panel system makes for a healthy building environment with a halogen-free foam core that provides thermal efficiency and moisture control. Mermet USA GreenScreen Nature Draper High-tech shade expert Draper paired up with sun control textile purveyor Mermet to offer a 100 percent fiberglass shade that’s 100 percent recyclable. GreenScreen Nature blocks up to 51 percent of sun, undesired heat, and harmful UV rays, helping to meet those green LEED building codes. It is offered in seven mineral-toned colors.   Metropolitan AF-690 Benjamin Moore Benjamin Moore’s color of the year is a cool, very agreeable shade of gray dubbed Metropolitan AF-690. Featuring cool undertones in a “neutral spectrum,” the shade and its harmonious 15 corresponding hues create “impactful common ground.” Living up to its namesake, it makes any room look “Metropolitan AF.” Pentagonals Tarkett Pentagonals is a collection of colorful modular tiles made of rubber, making it perfect for high-traffic areas. Pick and choose three different shapes to create virtually endless design combinations. And, with the help of Tarkett’s online visualizer tool, you can get motivated by the online inspiration gallery and create custom layouts with the design platform. Aromatic Cedar Columbia Forest Products Bye-bye pests and mildew! Cedar protects kitchens, pantries, basements, and indoor spaces alike from stink with its inherent natural properties (especially its scent). Columbia Forest Products' ¼-inch-by-4-feet-by-8-feet aromatic cedar plywood panels are offered in both mirrored and symmetrical styles.