Posts tagged with "Sustainability":

Placeholder Alt Text

Zappos invests in startup Geoship to build domes for the homeless

Geoship, a startup with a plan to revolutionize single-family housing, has caught the attention of Zappos via Tyler Williams, director of brand experience at the shoe retailer's Las Vegas headquarters. The two companies are now working together to make geodesic dome structures the homes of the future, addressing a variety of mounting social and environmental concerns in what they're calling affordable, regenerative architecture. Geoship’s dome structures are made of bioceramic, a self-adhesive material made largely out of phosphate, which can be recycled from wastewater. The material is touted as being "nearly indestructible," making it suitable for a world hurtling towards a climate crisis—the homes can withstand a heat of up to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit without burning, resist insects and mold, and can weather tremors and storm surge from earthquakes and hurricanes alike. All of this?  “Essentially, it’s like Legos going together,” Geoship founder Morgan Bierschenk told Fast Company. The startup claims their domes cost 40 percent less to build than traditional existing construction methods. The geodesic domed shape, similar to that of a soccer ball, is made up of faceted triangles and pentagons welded together via the bioceramic’s self-gluing properties. The form and its translucent, light-filled nature were popularized by great 20th-century architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller, who used the form and technology to build structures like his pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal or the Dymaxion House. The shape is inherently strong and structurally sound and this is further enhanced by Geoship’s combination of the classic form with a new material. Zappos jumped on the fundraising wagon with Geoship when Williams recognized the domes’ potential to address homelessness around its Las Vegas headquarters. The idea of a collective of the domes, made available for free to the homeless adjacent to Zappos's office, was a shared vision of both Bierschenk and Williams. The solution combines low-cost housing with extreme environmental sensitivity; Geoship claims that there is even a possibility that the domes could become carbon negative, as bioceramic has the ability to absorb amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Geoship also argues some more theoretical points—the domes are supposedly said to align with Vastu Shastra, a traditional Indian theory of architecture. The goal, though, is to appeal to a mass audience and modernize home building: “We started to question why we’re still pounding nails in wood, like people were doing 100 years ago,” said Bierschenk.   It may take some time before the unlikely partnership bears dome-shaped fruit; Bierschenk estimates it will be at least two years before the structures begin production. Whether we can "envision a new future for Earth" as Geoship encourages us to do remains to be seen—as well as the company's claims that the interiors of their domes harmonize the electromagnetic environment with biological systems—but at least the homeless population in Las Vegas may be getting a new form of housing.
 
View this post on Instagram
 

Can you envision a new future for Earth? The converging global crises of ecosystem disruption, democratic dysfunction, unaffordable housing, and increasing chronic disease are clear signals that it's time to dramatically transform where and how we live. Geoship's vision for the future of home is a natural earth sanctuary that calms your senses and restores balance; a place of maximum efficiency, beauty, and resilience. Where the light and electromagnetic environment harmonizes with biological systems. Inside, you feel connected to all that exists outside – nature, community, and the universe. Your dome is calling! #futureofhome #buckminsterfuller #domesweetdome #newparadigm #domehomes #geoship

A post shared by Geoship (@geoship) on

GreenerBuilder 2019

Hosted by the Pacific Region communities of the U.S. Green Building Council, GreenerBuilder is a one-day conference and expo for green building professionals. The annual event unites all of the key players in greening the Pacific Region’s built environment—including architects, engineers and contractors—to discuss industry trends, new research and emerging technologies. GreenerBuilder is where you can get the strategies and tools to help create a more sustainable future in the region.

Open Call: R+D for the Built Environment Design Fellowship

R+D for the Built Environment, is sponsoring a 6-month, paid, off-site design fellowship program starting this summer. We're looking for four candidates in key R+D topic areas:
  1. Building material science
  2. 3D printing, robotics, AR/VR
  3. AI, machine learning, analytics, building intelligence
  4. Quality housing at a lower cost
  5. Building resiliency and sustainability
  6. Workplace optimization
  7. Adaptable environments
We're excited to support up-and-coming designers, engineers, researchers (and all the disciplines in between!) advance their work and provide them with a platform to share their ideas. Follow the link below for more details and instructions on how to apply. Applications are due by May 31, 2019. https://sites.google.com/view/rdbe-design-fellowship-2019/home  
Placeholder Alt Text

NYC Council passes sweeping building emission legislation

Some of New York’s tallest towers are doing the most harm to the environment. Although buildings larger than 25,000 square feet only represent two percent of the city’s stock, according to the Urban Green Council that minority is responsible for up to half of all building emissions. Now the New York City Council is finally cracking down on the worst offenders, and New York will soon become the first city in the world to constrain large building emissions through hard limits. Yesterday the council passed the eight-bill Climate Mobilization Act, a legislative package that some are comparing to a New Green Deal for New York. The Climate Mobilization Act, which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign, would set increasingly harsh limits on carbon emissions for buildings over 25,000 square feet beginning in 2024. According to the Urban Green Council, New York City produces 50 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, and buildings account for approximately 67 percent of that—meaning buildings over 25,000 square feet produce 35 percent, or about 13 million tons of carbon dioxide, a year. The legislation covering the affected 50,000 buildings will roll out in phases. This year, an Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance and an advisory board will be created at the Department of Buildings to both regulate and enforce the new standards. When the law fully takes effect in 2024, emissions from qualifying buildings will need to be reduced 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. The Climate Mobilization Act then takes things one step further and requires that these same buildings slash their emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Why are large buildings such energy hogs? Lighting, heating, cooling, and tech requirements, combined with inefficient equipment, all constrained within leaky envelopes, have combined to create a perfect storm of waste. Retrofitting these massive buildings to use or waste less energy is projected to potentially create thousands of jobs for architects, energy modelers, engineers, and construction workers, as everything from inefficient windows to HVAC systems will need to be replaced. For those structures that can’t be brought up to code on schedule, their owners can offset a portion of their emissions by purchasing renewable energy credits. If an owner still isn’t in compliance, they can be hit with an ongoing fine based on their actual emissions versus the cap. The real estate industry had been a vocal opponent of the measure, arguing that it would place an undue burden on both it and tenants. “The overall effect is going to be that an owner is going to think twice before she rents out any space: ‘Is the next tenant I’m renting to going to be an energy hog or not?’” Carl Hum, general counsel for the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), told the New York Times. “There’s a clear business case to be made that having a storage facility is a lot better than having a building that’s bustling with businesses and workers and economic activity.” Still, those fears appear unwarranted. Part of the Office of Building Energy and Emissions Performance’s job will be to work with landlords and tenants and issue variances for buildings with higher energy requirements.

BuildingsNY 2019

EXPERIENCE THE FULL BUILDINGS LIFECYCLE

BuildingsNY is sponsored by ABO (Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York), CHIP (Community Housing Improvement Program), The AIA, NYARM, ASHRAE LI, and a host of other industry supporters. BuildingsNY is the single source, full product life-cycle solution to safely and cost-effectively operate your buildings with a unique combination of an exhibition, no-cost accredited education, partnership opportunities, and networking events.  

WHAT WILL YOU FIND AT BUILDINGSNY

  • 5,500 + Building industry professionals
  • 300+ suppliers
  • 35,000 square feet of event space offering state-of-the-art innovation technologies, goods and services to reduce costs for your building
  • Industry leaders and subject matter experts offering the opportunity to share their extensive knowledge with new codes & industry trends
  • Free accredited education
  • MORE innovation & technology, goods and services
  • MORE State-of-the-Art product launches than ever before
Learn More

WHAT'S IN STORE FOR 2019

  • All education sessions will be moved to the show floor, creating three Learning Theaters.
  • Updated Advisory Council consisting of building professionals who shape the industry.
  • New partnerships with a wide range of media, as well as strengthening the relationships with current supporters.
  • Back by popular demand! Tech Tank Pavilion will feature new buildings technologies. Source the next big product or service that can revolutionize building operations as we know it.
  • Unlimited access to the complimentary Lead Retrieval App, which allows you to easily collect, qualify & download the contact details of the customers you meet at BuildingsNY.
  • Education Sessions for 2019 will focus on profitability, compliance and managerial excellence. You'll leave with a fresh perspective on how to solve problems, increase efficiencies, unlock saving and keep your buildings at their peak.
  • Attorney Advice Center: Powered by NYARM – During 15-minute intervals, attorneys and attendees will meet one-on-one focusing on important areas of practice (April 2 and April 3, 2019 | 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.| Located at Booth #231
Placeholder Alt Text

Austin company 3D prints house on site to help alleviate homelessness

“What if you could download and print a house for half the cost?” reads the lede for the Vulcan II, a 3D printer with a name suited for sci-fi space exploration, on the website of Austin-based company ICON. Now the company has put this claim to the test, building what it says is the first permitted 3D-printed home in the United States, unveiled during SXSW. Using its original Vulcan gantry-style 3D printer, the firm collaborated with global housing nonprofit New Story to build a 650-square-foot home, which features separate bedroom, living, bathroom, and kitchen areas. The home, called the Chicon House, was printed in under 24 hours and while this test cost around $10,000, the firm estimates that future single-story homes, which could be as large as 2,000 square feet, could be printed for thousands less, around $4,000–$6,500. According to New Story CEO Brett Hagler, there is a pressing need to “challenge traditional [building] methods” to combat housing insecurity and homelessness. He adds that “linear methods will never reach the over-a-billion people who need safe homes.” ICON hopes to leverage the technology to help combat global housing crises all while being more environmentally friendly, resilient, and affordable. The printers use a proprietary “Lavacrete” concrete composite, which is made of materials that can be easily sourced locally and has a compressive strength of 6,000 pounds per square inch. The material is designed to withstand extreme weather conditions to minimize the impact of natural disasters, according to the firm. Wood, metal, and other materials can then be added on for windows, roofs, and the like. The printer relies on an “automated material delivery system” aptly called Magma, which blends the Lavacrete with other additives and water stored in built-in reservoirs. The Lavacrete’s composition is custom-tuned to the particular conditions of each location, accounting for temperature, humidity, altitude, and other climatic features. While 3D printing has been used in a number of architectural experiments over the past few years, it is primarily used as a prefabrication tool, with parts printed offsite to be assembled later. ICON argues that printing a whole home at once with a gantry printer is faster and more reliable. Printing the whole home reportedly provides a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and extremely little waste. The printers, which are transported in a custom trailer, are designed to work in areas where there is limited access to water, electricity, and the infrastructure necessary for traditional construction techniques—although, at least currently, it seems that some more standard construction is needed to finish off the 3D printed walls and turn them into a home. The Vulcan II is operated by a tablet, has remote monitoring technology, and built-in lighting for building overnight. A specialized software suite helps convert CAD drawings into printable forms. ICON has also begun licensing its tech to others. Austin-based developer Cielo Property Group plans to start production of affordable housing in Austin this year using the Vulcan II, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Placeholder Alt Text

PARTISANS' Building Raincoat could help Toronto keep a street culture year-round

Toronto is known for many great things. Its weather isn’t one of them. For the city's architecture the question is: how can public, urban space be usable and comfortable throughout the year? The architecture collective PARTISANS thinks it might have an answer. Referencing the “maze of awnings…and glass arcades” that defined Toronto streets in the late 19th century, the firm has designed an adjustable awning, somewhat-humorously called the "Building Raincoat," that could be installed to protect the sidewalk (and its users) from the elements. Intended to be applied onto any building, or perhaps pre-planned in new construction, the ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) structure latches onto the facade and to street pavers to create a protected space that remains transparent and lightweight, but still maintains the necessary durability to handle any meteorological assault. The Building Raincoat's four layers of EFTE help regulate sun exposure, and the spaces between the two interior layers inflate and deflate automatically to shift the opacity of the surface in order to regulate temperature under the canopy. The firm expects the Building Raincoat to double the number of daylight hours that can be comfortably spent outside each year. Cofounder Alex Josephson told Sidewalk Talk, the publication of Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto's joint effort Sidewalk Toronto, which hosted a presentation of the prototype of the building raincoat earlier this week, that PARTISANS took inspiration from other similar architectural typologies, like inflatables, that have been used to deal with space in experimental ways. The team iterated an array of possible structures before deciding on the three main qualities they needed: organic, folded, tensile. The raincoats have been developed in collaboration with structural designers Maffeis Engineering and environmental engineers RWDI, which have expertise in sustainability and in climate-conscious architecture.  To arrive at the right stable, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing form, the collaborators have leveraged computer modeling tools from the get-go, integrating them into the design process, rather than just using them during later testing phases. Leveraging these technologies, they’ve developed what Josephson calls a “toolkit,” an array of different related shapes and systems that can be adaptably deployed and maneuvered. “This is real experimentation where the scientific method meets design,” Josephson told Sidewalk Talk. In addition to providing adaptable protection from the elements, engineer Gonçalo Pedro of RWDI said that the Building Raincoat acts as a natural extension of the space it is attached to. It creates flexible transitions and gradations between inside and outside, public and private. While still in the experimental phase, the team hopes that the building raincoat can help shape and shift our relation to public space, allowing us to occupy the street together as much as possible. This month, they've put it to the test and have installed a version of the Building Raincoat at 307, Sidewalk Labs' Toronto headquarters.

EQUINOX Symposium | United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Join us on the 2019 Spring Equinox for the 3rd Annual EQUINOX Symposium. Established in March 2017 as a platform to advocate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the annual EQUINOX Symposium is dedicated to socio-economic-ecological impacts of sustainability. The initiative advances a diverse set of interdisciplinary programs -- catalyzing local and global collaboration among institutions of higher education, professionals, policy makers, stakeholders, community members, and advocates.
Placeholder Alt Text

Cornell symposium looks at architecture and construction post-waste

Can you imagine a world without waste? A world where the leftovers of today are easily turned into a delicious dinner tomorrow? Can such a world be designed? Such was the premise and the promise of the symposium Wasted: Design for the End of Material as We Know It, held at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning on March 8 and 9. The event’s organizer, Caroline O’Donnell, challenged practitioners, educators, and students not to wait until the end of a product’s life to passively recycle it. Instead, the entire lifecycle of materials could and should be accounted for at the beginning of the design process. In response to this prompt, the audience was treated to a wide variety of methods for reducing the production and consumption of new architectural resources. These were often framed and diagramed in the context of a “circular economy,” a system of exchange where the refuse of one practice becomes the raw material or capital for the next project or investment. Some proposals echoed the efficient forms and goals of modernism; Peter Van Assche, Sabine Rau-Oberhuber, and Billie Faircloth showed projects where the disassembly and reuse of building components were integral to the design. These schemes recalled the logic and the style of the Eames House, and of Walter Gropius’s General Panel Corporation from the 1940s. Juliette Spertus’s investigations into a faster, cleaner mode of moving garbage in cities via pneumatic tubes directly updated the systems approach to planning of the 1960s. Even Michael Ghyoot and The Living’s David Benjamin references to spolia, the ancient practice of mining elements from otherwise obsolete buildings, was positioned via the optimizing framework of digital cataloguing techniques. Other examples, like Meredith Miller’s “Post-Rock” project, presented a more playful if not more menacing vision of what living in a world made out of other people’s garbage might be like. Similarly, the strange, slumped, and bio-degradable designs shown by Maria Aiolova and David Benjamin offered an uncanny version of planned obsolescence, one that challenged the architectural myths of stability and perpetuity. The mycelium-based materials they have developed are designed to disappear back into the earth, literally nurturing it rather than defiling it. All present seemed to agree that what needs to be thrown away is the idea of waste as an inevitable byproduct of the design and construction process. Instead, waste was consistently repositioned as a resource to be creatively used. Clearly, there are many ways of designing with waste; some ways can make do with DIY tools and software, while others will need large capital investments. Also shared was the ethos of not taking no for an answer—not from city planners, or industrial and material engineers, or from business managers and consultants. Changing the status quo requires the development of even more optimistic acts of architectural disobedience. Surely, more of these can be imagined and designed.
Placeholder Alt Text

Over 600 citizen-architects meet with Congress members on Capitol Hill

Today more than 600 citizen-architects are lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to advocate for public policies that promote school safety and improved energy saving in buildings across the United States. As part of Grassroots 2019, an annual conference for AIA chapter leaders, these architects will meet with 135 members of Congress and 197 Congressional staff spanning 358 House districts in all 50 states. This event comes after the AIA has become more vocal in recent years about amping up architects' role in policymaking. Under 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante’s leadership, the organization pushed for members to take a seat at the table by getting involved with local efforts to create safer, healthier, and more equitable cities. Through both the individual efforts of its members as “architect-activists” and the overarching authority of the AIA itself, the group has put more stake into the public realm than ever before. From most recently coming out in support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, to proposing legislative ideas that ensure safe school design to senior cabinet members at the White House, the AIA has not been shy about making sure elected leaders hear from architectural experts regarding some of the country's biggest problems. In November, the organization outlined six key issues it would address with the new Congress in 2019, two of which are being tackled on the Hill today. Of course, not all of the AIA's outspoken moments have satisfied all of its members. At times, people have taken to social media and other venues to oppose the national group, or to castigate the group for staying silent on design-oriented national issues. In recent months, however, the organization has seemed to be more committed to political advocacy. Today's collective meetings bring AIA representatives from across the country—real, diverse practioners—to D.C. to share their experience both living and working in the built environment. Not only that, but hundreds of local architects are also meeting with state officials to discuss these issues while others are using the AIA's virtual portal to express their voices.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.

The University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning presents Building Better Futures: Innovations in Equitable Development

Cities have made a remarkable comeback, however large swaths of their populations are being left behind. Developers, lenders, advocates, and policy makers work to mitigate these disparities by creating innovative solutions and opportunity through equitable development. Now more than ever, new approaches are required to make cities places where individuals and families can thrive. At the center of making this work are initiatives that put equity at their core and strive to find the right mix of public, private, nonprofit, and grassroots policies, investments, and strategies that serve the needs of all residents and workers. In Building Better Futures: Innovations in Equitable Development, U-M Taubman College will convene experts at the forefront of designing, financing, developing and promoting better buildings, better outcomes and better futures for all across race, income, age, ability, household type and geography. This conference will examine the ground-breaking policy mechanisms, design innovations, and financial incentives that connect communities, build wealth, and create frameworks to promote equity across demographics. Join us as we investigate, define, and present solutions for social and equitable development to build better futures.