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Stacy Smedley/Skanska
Achieving Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Targets through Life Cycle Carbon Accounting

Climate change is the existential crisis of our time. The design and construction industry has responded to this challenge with a wave of green buildings that have reshaped expectations for environmental performance of the built environment, striving to meet increasingly stringent energy codes, rating systems, and greenhouse gas reduction targets. However, we are only solving the problems that we are looking at, and we are not seeing the whole picture. The substantial up-front carbon emissions associated with the production of building materials and construction have gone largely uncounted, as have those associated with demolition—but they are no less real and just as significant. New, high-performance buildings are designed to reduce emissions over the life of a building, but when will that payoff occur? Thirty years from construction? Fifty? Unfortunately, we cannot wait fifty or even twenty years for our new, efficient buildings to save us. Design and construction practices must be dramatically and immediately reshaped to drive down emissions associated with all stages of a building’s life—including materials, construction, and demolition—in order to meet critical global climate goals.

The Urgent Need to Reduce the Life Cycle Carbon Footprint of Buildings

The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement established the necessity of capping global temperature rise to well below 2° Celsius, setting the target at 1.5°. In order to achieve that target, the world needs to get to net zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. According to the 2018 UN Environment Emissions Gap Report, we are not on track to meet this goal [i]. In fact, we must now reduce global emission by 50% by the year 2030 to have even a 50% chance of meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement [ii].

At a global scale, building construction and operations account for approximately 39% of carbon dioxide emissions annually [iii]. We are also projected to build an astounding 2.5 trillion square feet of new construction globally by the year 2060 [iv], roughly doubling the current square footage of existing buildings. This is an extraordinary figure, and it means that building owners and professionals in the construction sector have a substantial opportunity and responsibility to reduce building-related carbon emissions to respond to the climate crisis.

The paradigm of sustainable design has for decades focused on reducing operational energy, with ultimate goals of net zero or even net positive carbon. This approach has driven energy reduction goals in codes, rating systems, and even carbon mitigation plans. While reducing operational carbon is a critical component to driving down carbon emissions in the built environment, “net zero” used in this context is a misnomer. The definition of net zero in the United States only includes the carbon emissions associated with the use phase of the building, also known as operational carbon, while excluding emissions associated with all other stages of a building’s life cycle, such as up-front carbon emitted during the production of materials and building construction, also referred to as embodied carbon, and emissions associated with end-of-life.

While we have made strides in reducing the operational energy of buildings, with an average global reduction of 1.5% annually [v], the impacts of embodied carbon have been overlooked. These embodied impacts were for many years thought to be negligible; however, it has become increasingly apparent that they are not insignificant. Embodied carbon contributes at least 11% of all global carbon emissions annually—and this percentage is increasing. In fact, projections made by the nonprofit research organization Architecture 2030 show that by the year 2030, embodied emissions will account for 74% of total emissions from all buildings constructed after 2020. As buildings meet higher performance standards and the grid becomes greener, operational carbon will continue to decrease, and embodied carbon will represent an increasingly large percentage of total life cycle emissions.

Because sustainable design practices have responded to what our industry has measured to-date—operational carbon—our industry has primarily focused on new, high-performance construction. This has reinforced the misconception that new buildings are good for the environment while existing buildings are energy hogs that should be demolished and
Gensler
An urbanizing world has put commercial real estate practices in the spotlight. Gensler’s Co-CEO’s Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen discuss the ways the industry can lessen its climatic stress.

Mass urbanization and commercial real estate’s climate impact demand strong action by designers, urban planners and architects, developers and legislators around the world. It’s also a subject that Gensler has taken very seriously: the Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) outlines the firm’s commitment to design all their projects to net-zero standards by 2030; and addressed it in their recently released Design Forecast “Shaping the Future of Cities.” Diane Hoskins and Andy Cohen, Co-CEOs at the leading global design firm, spoke to GlobeSt.com about the real estate industry’s most urgent climatic challenges and how CRE stakeholders are responding.

GlobeSt.com: How has CRE’s climate impact changed and how much will that burden expand in the future?

Diane Hoskins: The growth of cities creates so much more of a need to focus on buildings, which account for 40 percent of CO2 emissions in cities. Cities overall create 70 percent of CO2 emissions even though they’re only 2 percent of the world’s land mass. Since 1990, we’ve seen a 70 percent increase in the number of people living in cities (to 3.8 billion). That obviously means more CRE in our cities and thus more CO2 emissions.

Andy Cohen: We are adding about 1.5 million people to cities every week for the foreseeable future, and 80% of the world’s GDP is in cities. More than half of the global population is now concentrated in urban areas, and by 2060 two thirds of the expected population of 10 billion will live in cities. The way we design, build and operate new buildings, and how we reposition existing buildings to be more efficient are critical factors in our global efforts to address climate change and the effects of climate change.

GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest climate concerns and how can cities be more resilient in response?

Cohen: Cities are at the forefront of these issues, dealing with the real-time impacts of weather events, rising sea levels, migration, and resource scarcity. Ninety percent of the world’s urban areas are on coastlines, so they are increasingly at risk. Working together, governments, institutions, and investors can anchor city planning in resilience to produce tangible, positive impacts on people’s lives, jobs, health and well-being.

Hoskins: A multi-pronged effort regarding material choices, building retrofits and new construction standards is required. For existing buildings, how we upgrade systems and the building envelope from both a thermal and energy-generation standpoint is critical, using new types of glass and even brick and other types of veneers that sequester carbon.

GlobeSt.com: What impact is climate change having on the real estate investment sector?

Hoskins: At the 2019 ULI Fall Conference, one of the panelists talked about increasing coastal risk from rising seas. The investment sector in coastal US markets is really beginning to sound the alarm and take a harder look at the 10-, 20- and 30-year time horizon with regard to the risk and resilience of locations. We’re in the mode now of resilience thinking versus prevention. For example, in Miami it’s not about trying to stop sea level rise, but rather adapting to changing conditions. This includes having walkways at the second level and having entries that may be on the ground level but that are built with materials that can withstand the water. And in order to ensure that there isn’t a cataclysmic level of warming and flooding, it’s critical to address greenhouse gas emissions through building sector choices. Going to net zero can help keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius from now until 2050.

GlobeSt.com: What are the biggest CRE challenges to meeting and exceeding net zero carbon standards?

Cohen: We need to address everything from operational energy and the materials we choose, to how people travel and where we decide to build. We need our cities and governments to set goals in their cities and then take concrete steps to achieve them. We need investment from the private sector to assist with the gap in resilient design and high-performance measures, because the returns on these investments take time. And we need our cities to create densified zoning to encourage green development. We need all parties involved in development to design for zero carbon starting now and as desig
Tesla
Epic fail. That’s what first crossed my mind as I watched the window break (twice!) during Tesla’s Cybertruck launch. Instead, the unfortunate incident brought immediate worldwide attention to Tesla’s new truck — mainstream press, social media, and (of course) meme makers all gobbled it up. Fast forward, and Elon Musk’s crazy concept for the Cybertruck is now considered genius.

In fact, Elon Musk actually forecasts failure at the beginning of his bold and audacious ventures. According to Marcel Schwantes (via Inc.), Musk demonstrates “a healthy amount of humility” when starting a project. For example, at an interview at an energy conference in Norway, Musk said, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”

As Musk points out, “When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness, at first, is high. Then, you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline and you’ll go through a whole world of hurt.” But, if you take your medicine and learn from your failures, there’s an upside. “Eventually, if you succeed … you will finally get back to happiness,” says Musk.

By acknowledging that failure is a likely outcome, Schwantes says, “you’ll be able to spot impending issues earlier and minimize the inevitable pain and suffering Musk describes.” In fact, Musk has a trick for keeping him abreast of potential pitfalls. He actively seeks out constructive criticism from close friends and confidants.

“A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold. You should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your friends. Usually, your friends know what’s wrong, but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you,” says Musk. Even if you don’t agree with their feedback, Musk says, “You at least want to listen very carefully to what they say.”

In short, Musk believes failure is necessary on the path of success. He says, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” It’s something Elon Musk accepts and embraces. Don’t believe me? Check out this revealing infographic of Musk’s many failures as he built Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX into the trailblazing companies they are today.
Climate Reality
o its great credit, the American Institute of Architects recently denounced the Trump administration’s decision to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. This may put the professional organization on the right side of history, but it’s unlikely to sway any hardened hearts and minds in Washington. Obviously, the executive branch is worse than useless on this issue: not just an impediment to change, but a malevolent force for willful inaction. It’s hard to see it as anything less than an enemy of the climate.

Until this odious cast of characters in changes, climate activists must turn their attention elsewhere. Fortunately there’s an under-the-radar lobbying effort underway in California, by the AIA’s state chapter, that holds the potential to totally transform the building sector. In July, the organization’s Committee on the Environment, in collaboration with Edward Mazria of Architecture 2030, persuaded the California’s AIA’s governing board to support the adoption of a statewide Zero Code as soon as possible. The organization sent a letter to the governor in September, co-signed by leading firms, virtually all of the local chapters, as well as the cities of Berkeley, Santa Monica, Fremont, San Luis Obispo, and Culver City.

Green buildings in California would no longer be about rewarding good intentions or being less bad, no longer be about commemorative plaques or LEED ratings. Emissions-free buildings would be required by law.

If enacted, a Zero Code would essentially mandate emissions-free new buildings almost immediately. (Architecture 2030 defines a Zero Net Carbon building as “a highly energy efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.”) Green buildings in California would no longer be about rewarding good intentions or being less bad, no longer be about commemorative plaques or LEED ratings.

Emissions-free buildings would be required by law.

Before we go any further, though, the logical question to ask is the obvious one: Is this even possible? Is it politically feasible? For all of the well-meaning rhetoric swirling around the idea of a Green New Deal, none of it can even begin to happen without fundamental changes in policy, primarily at the state and local level. In California, the adoption of a Zero Code is largely dependent on the strong support of Governor Gavin Newsom, who has not weighed in on the issue.

Mazria initially approached the California AIA with a bolder approach, pushing the idea of an immediate Zero Code adoption via executive order, presumably the fastest route possible. As it turns out, this isn’t an option in California, where energy codes for buildings must be vetted and approved by the California Energy Commission. (The next overhaul will occur in 2022.) The governor, however, exerts a fair amount of control over that body. In two years, Governor Newsom will have either appointed or reappointed a majority of the commissioners on the five-member governing board. If he truly wanted to kick start the Green New Deal, putting his political muscle behind adoption of the Zero Code would be a monumental first step.

In the meantime, AIA California is working on several fronts, pushing and pulling at three different levers of power. “We’re organizing opportunities to enlist Governor Newsom’s active support,” says San Francisco architect William Leddy, who with Mazria helped convince the chapter to support adoption of the clean code. “Thanks to Michael Malinowski, the AIA’s government liaison, we’ve also discovered that there’s an avenue that might be much easier to attempt right now. And that’s to introduce the Zero Code immediately as a ‘reach code’ within CALGreen, which is the California Green Building Standard. We believe this approach doesn’t require the energy commission process. It would give cities around the state the option to adopt the Zero Code now, while we continue to pursue formal statewide adoption through the lengthy code-revision process.”

The reason these considerations are even possible is why Mazria approached the California AIA in the first place. Despite the apocalyptic fires, the rolling blackouts, the somewhat predictable this-is-the-end-of-California-as-we-know-it pronouncements, the state is well under way in its eventual transitio
Jonathan Hillyer
To generate at least as much energy as it uses, a building may need more photovoltaic panels than its roof can accommodate. One solution is to extend the roof, as Seattle’s Miller Hull Partnership did when it designed that city’s Bullitt Center, a six-story building with a PV panel-laden trellis cantilevering beyond its exterior walls.

Miller Hull has repeated the strategy in Atlanta, where it and Lord Aeck Sargent, a Katerra company, have just completed the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design at Georgia Tech. The new, 37,000-square-foot, three-story building has a large steel and aluminum trellis that reaches beyond the roof in three directions with the help of thin, cable-tensioned steel columns. About 40 feet off the ground, the trellis shelters gardens that serve as gathering places for students. The main shaded area resembles a kind of front porch, a play on the southern vernacular, says Brian Court, partner at Miller Hull and that firm’s design lead for the building. The porch opens into an atrium surrounded on three levels by classrooms, laboratories, and mechanical spaces. A lower, brick-clad extension houses a 175-seat lecture hall. The facilities are “not just for those students interested in sustainability as a career,” says Michael Gamble, director of graduate studies in the School of Architecture. Instead, Georgia Tech students from a range of departments will have “access to a building that actually teaches us something.”

The lesson is that it’s possible to build a “regenerative” building even in the hot, humid southeast. That was a goal of the Kendeda Fund (created by philanthropist Diana Latow Blank, the former wife of Home Depot co-founder Arthur Blank). Kendeda paid for the $18.6 million building and provided millions more for programming.

While the building is expected to receive a LEED Platinum rating, it was designed to meet the more stringent standards of the Living Building Challenge. To be certified, a building must produce more water and more electricity than it consumes. Net-positive water will be achieved by collecting an estimated 460,000 gallons of rainwater each year (runoff from the PVs is collected in channels and fed into a cistern and filtered to potable standards). As for electricity, the building’s 900 photovoltaic panels are expected to generate 455,000 kilowatt hours annually, 40 percent more than it is projected to use. To make the building energy-efficient, its designers focused on occupant comfort rather than fixed temperature goals and made extensive use of ceiling fans, radiant heating and cooling, and a dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS), combined with a super-efficient envelope. The building met other Living Building Challenge standards; for example, products were eliminated or reformulated to avoid chemicals on the program’s “red list.”

The building will not receive its final certification until it has demonstrated that it is energy- and water-positive for a year, notes Chris Hellstern, Living Building Challenge Services Director at Miller Hull. To achieve that, says Joshua Gassman, Lord Aeck Sargent’s sustainable design director, “Everything has to work together—it’s almost like building a Swiss watch.”

Not only will Kendeda be operationally efficient, Hellstern says, but it was designed to reduce embodied energy—the energy consumed in fabrication and construction—as well. Among other strategies, sustainably harvested wood was used for the main structural elements, reclaimed wood was used for decking, and 100-percent-recycled-content brick was incorporated into the cladding. “We used excess chunks of decking to build internal stairs, both to avoid creating landfill and to show that something that would have been wasted can contribute to both the beauty and the function of the project,” Gassman says. Speaking for the entire industry, Hellstern points out, “Unless we address embodied energy, we won’t meet climate targets.”
Granite Peak Photography
Many tiny home designers are guided by the principles of flexibility when it comes to being mobile, but rarely have we seen a tiny home creation that can be enjoyed on land and on water. Designed and built by our new hero, Scott Cronk, the Heidi-Ho, is a beautiful solar-powered tiny cabin built on a 30-foot pontoon.

According to Scott, the ingenious floating home creation was inspired by his need to explore the world on his own terms, “After wildfires in the Fall of 2017, I sold my home in Santa Rosa, Northern California, and moved to the Palm Springs area, Southern California,” he explained. “This houseboat is a way for me to spend my summers visiting friends in Northern California.”

The Heidi-Ho houseboat was built on a 30-foot long pontoon boat that can be pulled by a trailer. In fact, one of the driving forces behind the flexibility of the tiny home design was that it was an acceptable size for legal road transport. Accordingly, the deck is capable of being reduced to just 8.5 feet wide. In addition to being road ready, the entire cabin can also be removed from the boat deck to be used as a camping trailer.

And although this may have been considered limiting to some, Scott took on the challenge head on and created a spectacular living space. Although compact, the tiny cabin boasts a comfy living and sleeping area, complete with all of the basics.

The interior is light and airy, with wood-paneled walls and plenty of natural light. The interior living space is made up of custom-made bench seating, a removable dining table and a galley kitchen.

All in all, the compact cabin can sleep three. The main sleeping area is created by transforming the dining table into a double bed. Then, a bunk bed drops down from the ceiling for additional sleeping space.

The kitchen has everything needed to create tasty meals, including a three-burner stove top and oven and a refrigerator. Additionally, there is plenty of storage for kitchenware as well as clothing and equipment found throughout the tiny home.

Adding space to the design, the cabin features dual rear doors that can be fully opened. The doors lead out to the pontoon platform, creating a nice open-air space with boat seats to enjoy.
Luke Hesketh via Philip M Dingemanse
Australia’s new mountain bike trails in northeast Tasmania are now more accessible than ever thanks to Dales of Derby, a contemporary, purpose-built group housing complex that is the perfect base for adventure. Local architecture and design studio Philip M Dingemanse designed the building, which won the 2019 Barry McNeill Award for Sustainable Architecture with its energy-efficient and low-maintenance features.

A former tin-mining center, the tiny Australian town of Derby was transformed in 2015 with the opening of Blue Derby, a network of mountain bike trails that traverses some of the island’s most stunning rainforest landscapes. Tapped to design lodgings to accommodate large groups of mountain bike enthusiasts, Philip M Dingemanse created a project that would double as an introductory building to the small village of Derby. Drawing inspiration from the town’s mining history, the architects created a simple gabled form and clad the exterior with Australian vernacular corrugated metal and timber in a nod to utilitarian tin miner homes. The architects also split the gabled building into seven pieces, with four sections pulled apart, to bring the outdoors in, while the interiors are lined with wood for a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Built to sleep a large group of up to 24 people, Dales of Derby includes bunk beds that accommodate 16 people as well as four rooms with queen-sized beds that are accessed via a red vaulted foyer inspired by a mining tunnel. At the heart of the building is a large common area with a wood heater and a full kitchen with a dining area oriented toward the forest. To reduce the project’s energy demands, the architects installed solar hot water heaters and followed passive design strategies for optimal solar orientation and thermal control.

“The built form is a singular functional object separated into pieces and strung out across the hill between road and river,” the architects noted. “Gaps become significant framing moments of eucalypt forest while nighttime gable lighting castes a permanent golden hue to graying timber walls; a memory of the raw timber cut, glowing on the outskirts of the township.”

Tesla
Tesla’s newly released version of solar roof tiles is promising to be a better green energy alternative. For one, it is easier to install than traditional shingles. Plus, these new Tesla tiles are more cost-effective than purchasing a new roof with separate solar panels. Because of the innovative upgrades, Tesla CEO Elon Musk optimistically projects the company will install 1,000 of these new solar roofs per week.

Tesla ventured into the solar roof industry three years ago in partnership with SolarCity, which Tesla acquired in 2016. The most recently upgraded solar roof tiles are designed to look like normal roof tiles yet double as power-generating solar panels.

This newly unveiled solar roof tile is a third-generation version that features more refinements like increased size, beefed up power density, reduced components for better efficiency and improved roof edges that no longer require time-consuming “artisanal” fine-tuning onsite. The new solar roof tiles are made from tempered glass and are three times more durable than standard roofing tiles.

As Musk explained, “With versions one and two, we were still sort of figuring things out. Version three, I think, is finally ready for the big time. And so, we’re scaling our production of the version three solar tower roof at our Buffalo Gigafactory. And I think this product is going to be incredible.”

Tesla’s website offers two varieties of solar roof — a normal roof with solar panels and the third iteration of the textured glass shingle roof. Musk has touted the latter to be cheaper, easier and faster to install than its predecessors. The version three roof has a 25-year warranty, and its glass material can endure 130-mph winds and hail of up to 1.75 inches in diameter.

Efficiency is the name of the game in the solar roof sector. Thus, for Tesla, the company plans to implement a “Tesla-certified installer” program that enlists outside roofers that are local to the client. Similarly, Tesla has optimized its roof installation so that the whole process should only span eight hours.

Musk has said that orders for Tesla’s version three solar panels have risen as a response to the power outages caused by California utility PG&E repeatedly shutting off electricity to hundreds of thousands of Golden State residents to prevent wildfires. Tesla therefore is recommending homeowners go green to avoid these rolling blackouts.

“We can make roofs come alive,” Musk shared. “There are all these roofs out there just gathering sunlight, but not doing anything with it. In the future, it will be odd for roofs to be dormant or not gathering energy.”
PAD Studio
The Lane End House by PAD studio incorporates natural building material and sustainable solutions to increase energy-efficiency. The resulting design creates a passive home with a smaller environmental footprint and a focus on sustainability.

The exterior of the house contains balcony areas that act as solar shading for the property, complete with thoughtfully-placed openings to create a greater distribution of natural ventilation to rid the home of intense heat during the hot Summer months.

Landscape-wise, the clients wanted to incorporate a natural feel as often as possible, with large windows to connect the inhabitants with the outdoors and a functioning herb garden located on the first floor balcony. The placement of the grand windows creates natural sunlight to light the home during the day while incorporating more profound landscape views.

According to the client, “we wanted a house that was big enough to comfortably accommodate the two of us and our lifestyle – and no bigger. For us that meant carefully considered, flexible, multipurpose spaces that created a sense of space whilst retaining a modest footprint.”

High quality, insulated timber wood used to create the frame both reduces the need for artificial cooling and heating in the home, and provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional (and heavy carbon emission-inducing) building materials. Additionally, the timber is locally-produced from renewable sources and the brick used to make the fireplace is hand-made by local vendors. On the ground floor, concrete was inserted to make the structure even more air-tight and regulate interior temperatures even further.

The builders installed a MVHR system designed to recycle heat produced from the kitchen and bathroom and mix it with clean air circulated through the ventilation and naturally colder areas of the house.

In addition to completing the standard methods such as SAP calculations and EPS ratings, the impressive home was also built to Passive House ideology.



Greentech Media
Developers of the 800-MW Vineyard Wind offshore wind project in Massachusetts, set to be the first commercial scale renewable energy venture in the U.S., say they are committed to push through on its $2.8 billion in construction despite a sudden Trump Administration permitting setback.

The project, originally set to gain its critical environmental impact statement this summer so it could start construction by year-end to enable use of a federal tax incentive, now must do extensive additional studies before work can start, based on new mandates from the U.S. Interior Dept.

The department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which leads the federal government project review, told the developer—a joint venture of Copenhagen Investment Partners and Avengrid Renewables—on Aug. 9 that it was expanding its analysis of Vineyard Wind to take into account the cumulative effects of other offshore wind projects that have been awarded power purchase agreements as well as state procurements of offshore wind generation that are expected to be awarded.

The agency said it expects a greater buildout of offshore wind capacity than was analyzed in the draft EIS for the project.

BOEM said stakeholders and cooperating agencies requested a more robust cumulative analysis.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service said it does not concur with BOEM's decisions related to distance between its 84 planned turbines and their alignment because of claimed hazard to commercial fishing, said Michael Pentony, NOAA’s regional administrator. They currently are to spaced 0.75 nautical miles apart and aligned in a northwest-southeast orientatio. NOAA wants them further apart and aligned in an east-west direction “to minimize impacts to fishing operations.”

Lobbyists for the commercial fishing industry asked for a more comprehensive study that would show how the buildout of various proposed wind farms in the region—including New England, New York and New Jersey—would affect its operations.

“We are disappointed not to deliver the project on the timeline we had anticipated,” Lars Pedersen, CEO of Vineyard Wind said in a statement.

More than 50 design, construction and other companies have either been awarded project development contracts or were bidding on them.

Vineyard has not received any specific requirements for the expanded analysis from BOEM, but the company said the timing of such a study could not be completed within its timeline to begin construction before 2020.

Incentive credits for renewable energy projects, which have provided a 30% federal tax break for the last several years and factor in Vineyard Wind's financial framework, are set to expire this year.

Three bills now are pending in Congress to extend the credit for from five to eight years, with some observers speculating that the extension could be included in tax extenders legislatlon that passed the House Ways and Means Committee but whose passage this year depends on an uncertain level of bipartisan cooperation, says an Aug. 1 GreenTech Media report.
Deborah DeGraffenreid via North River Architecture & Planning
In New York’s Hudson Valley, a beautiful new beacon for sustainable, net-zero design has taken root. New York-based North River Architecture & Planning recently added another energy-efficient build to its growing portfolio of environmentally friendly projects — the Accord Passive House, a modern home that has not only achieved PHIUS+ Certification but also boasts no net energy costs annually.

Located in the hamlet of Accord, the contemporary house is sensitive to both the environment as well as the local culture and history. The architects drew inspiration from the rural farm buildings for the design of a gabled, barn-like house that emphasizes connection with the outdoors and flexible living spaces accommodating of the homeowners’ changing needs. As with traditional farm buildings, the construction materials were selected for longevity, durability and low-maintenance properties.

Galvanized corrugated steel siding wraps the exterior, while a trowel-finished concrete slab is used for the floor inside and is visually tied to the xeriscaped pea gravel patio that requires no irrigation. “Trim materials inside and out were chosen for their adaptive reuse and low resource extraction properties, including the use of engineered lumber for trim work, salvaged white oak slats and carmelized cork throughout the project,” the firm added. “The cork was used inside and out for its sustainable harvest and broad utility for acoustics, water resistance and insulation value.”

Topped with a 9kW photovoltaic array, the impressive net-zero energy build was also created to show how Passive House design can be beautiful, resilient and comfortable without incurring sky-high costs. The firm said it has achieved “a competitive price per square foot relative to regional costs for this market niche.” During construction, the architects hosted open-house learning events to promote open-source sharing of energy-efficient design methods and solutions with the local community.



Tremend
The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.

Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.

To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs. Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.

“Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog, water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.”


LAVA
Laboratory for Vision Architecture (LAVA) and Australian design practice Aspect Studios have won an international competition to design the new Central Park for Ho Chi Minh City. Located on the site where southeast Asia’s first train station was located, the 16-hectare linear park will pay homage to its industrial heritage with walkways overlaid atop 19th-century railway tracks. In addition to historical references, the visionary public space will also integrate sustainable and futuristic “tree” structures engineered to provide shelter, harvest water and generate solar energy.

Located in District 1, the central urban district of Ho Chi Minh City, the proposed Central Park will replace and expand the existing September 23 Park. The new design will retain its predecessor’s lush appearance while adding greater functionality to include sculpture gardens, outdoor art galleries, water features, music and theater performance pavilions, a skate park, sport zones and playgrounds.

”The site has always been about transportation,” said Chris Bosse, director of LAVA. “It was the first train station in southeast Asia, it’s currently a bus terminal and in the near future it will be Vietnam’s first metro station. Our design references this history and future mobility. Known locally as ‘September 23 Park’, it also hosts the important annual spring festival.”

The designers plan to link the redesigned park to the new Ben Thanh Metro Station and memorialize the transport history with a dramatic twisting steel sculpture at one end of the park.

To improve the energy efficiency of Central Park, three types of eco-friendly structures will be installed, and each one will be created in the image of “artificial plants” and “trees.” The “water purification trees” will collect rainwater for reuse for irrigation, drinking fountains and fire hydrants. “Ventilation trees” will reduce the urban heat island effect and generate fresh air, and the “solar trees” feature angled solar panels to generate renewable energy used for powering the charging docks, information screens and the park’s Wi-Fi system. Construction on Central Park is slated to begin in 2020.

Adrià Goula via Guillem Carrera
In between the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal mountain range in northern Spain, Tarragona-based architect Guillem Carrera has completed Casa VN, an energy-efficient luxury home that pays homage to the region’s historic heritage. Set on a steep slope, the modern home uses terraces to step down the landscape and is faced with walls of glass to take advantage of panoramic views. To reduce energy demands, the house follows passive solar principles; it is also topped with insulating green roofs and equipped with home automation technology.

Casa VN is located in Alella, a village near Barcelona that was historically used for farming and marked by large estates and stonewall terraces. However, in recent years, changes in the economy have led to increased urbanization in the area. Given the landscape history, Carrera strove to conserve the original character of his client’s property while introducing modern comforts.

The goal was to “preserve the soul and the morphology, to preserve each one of those things that make it unique and characteristic: the terraces, the retaining walls, the different elements of pre-existing vegetation and the dry stone chapel,” Carrera said. “These elements are delimited and identified to be preserved in the plant, and once they have been delimited, a respectful implementation of housing directly on the existing land is established, so that the house coexists and interacts spatially and functionally with these elements. The resulting ensemble seeks to be a whole, timeless and heterogeneous, that is part of the place and the landscape.”

At 869 square meters, Casa VN recalls the large estates that were once typical in Alella. Locally sourced stone — the same used in the preserved stone chapel — and native Mediterranean landscaping also respect the local vernacular. Meanwhile, the residence features modern construction with a structure of reinforced concrete, steel and glass. Passive solar principles also guided the design and placement of the house to reduce unwanted solar gain and promote natural cooling.

Alamy Stock Photo
The California city on Tuesday voted to ban natural gas hook-ups in new buildings, in a historic move

Berkeley this week became the first city in the United States to ban natural, fossil gas hook-ups in new buildings.

The landmark ordinance was passed into law on Tuesday, after being approved unanimously by the city council the previous week amid resounding public support.

Although Berkeley may be pushing the vanguard, the city is hardly alone. Governments across the US and Europe are looking at strategies to phase out gas. In California alone, dozens of cities and counties are considering eliminating fossil fuel hook-ups to power stoves and heat homes in new buildings, while California state agencies pencil out new rules and regulations that would slash emissions.

Natural gas, it seems, has become the new climate crisis frontline.

Landmark move
Berkeley’s ordinance, which goes into effect on 1 January, will ban gas hook-ups in new multi-family construction, with some allowances for first-floor retail and certain types of large structures.

The reasons behind the decision are multifold. Energy use in buildings accounts for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in California. If the state is to meet its goal of 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045, the gas will have to go.

For decades, gas was considered among the preferred energy sources for buildings and embraced as a bridge from dirtier fossil fuels to a green energy future.

“There’s been a lingering perception that burning gas was cleaner than electricity, which might have been true 20 years ago when electricity came from burning coal,” said Pierre Delforge, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council . “When we look at electrification policies, we need to think about what the grid will look like in 10 or 20 years, not what it looked like yesterday.”

A state energy commission report released in early 2019 concluded that building electrification was “a key strategy” for reducing the state’s climate impacts, one that “offers the most promising path to achieving [greenhouse gas] reduction targets in the least costly manner”.

Roughly 3% of all natural gas extracted by industry is leaked into the atmosphere, where methane is a far more potent, if shorter lived, greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Berkeley was also motivated to reduce health and safety risks endemic to gas appliances, which release significant emissions and pollutants indoors.

And then there’s the matter of running large amounts of flammable fuel around a state known for large earthquakes. A Pacific Gas and Electric pipeline explosion in 2010 turned a Northern California neighborhood into a smoking crater.

“We really believe we have the underpinnings of good legislation with economic, health and safety and climate impacts,” said the Berkeley councilmember Kate Harrison. “We can do this and we’ll end up a lot healthier and cleaner for it.”

As goes Berkeley, so goes California
Further decarbonizing the grid and electrifying buildings will be key to helping California meet its ambitious climate goals. In 2018, the state passed a law requiring it to derive 100% of its power from zero-carbon energy sources by 2045, and to pursue a “bold path” to get there.

Cities’ individual choices will be crucial in reaching that target. Energy is regulated at the state level, but municipalities control much of their own building codes.

“Climate-minded cities are all pulling their hair out, like, we have a climate emergency, and the national government doesn’t care. But this issue is squarely in their wheelhouse – they’ve just got to think about it in new and creative ways,” said Bruce Nilles, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “We’re dealing with an existential crisis. We’ve got to dust off all the different ways that different actors can do good, progressive, climate-minded things.”

More than 50 cities and counties in California are now considering similar policies to Berkeley’s, either banning or limiting gas and incentivizing full electrification in new buildings.

Panama Bartholomy, director of the Building Decarbonization Coalition, points to this summer as a transformative one: in order to have new ordinances in place by 1 January, municipalities will have until September to pass electrification measures. “Not all 50 are going to make it. I’m thinking a c
COBE
Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled designs for a new science museum in the Swedish university city of Lund that will be powered not only with rooftop solar energy but also with pedal power. Museum visitors will be invited to help generate electricity for the carbon-neutral museum by riding “energy bikes” on its concave roof. Constructed primarily from prefabricated cross-laminated timber, the eco-friendly building will be a sustainable landmark and help cement Lund’s position as a science city on the international stage.

Winner of an international competition, COBE’s proposal for the science museum will be located in the heart of the city’s new urban district, Science Villa Scandinavia. The museum will be sandwiched between the high-tech institutions ESS (European Spallation Source) and MAX IV, which are currently under construction and slated to become the world’s most powerful and advanced research facilities within neutron and X-ray research. The science museum’s purpose is to make the institutions’ groundbreaking research more accessible and inviting to both children and adults and to promote general interest in natural science and research.

Spanning a total floor space of 3,500 square meters, the two-story science museum will comprise exhibition halls, a gallery, a reception area, workshops, a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and an auditorium. A viewing platform and patio will top the concave 1,600-square-meter roof as will energy bikes and a solar array large enough to meet the museum’s electricity needs. A large, nature-filled atrium will sit at the heart of the museum to help absorb carbon dioxide, boost biodiversity and serve as a water reservoir and overflow canal in case of extreme rainfall. Excess heat from ESS will be used to heat the museum through an ectogrid system. The timber building is expected to reach completion by 2024.

“Ambitions for the design of the museum have been sky-high, and we feel that we have succeeded in designing a unique and inviting building, whose open atrium and concave roof lend it a dramatic and elegant profile that stands out and offers novel and innovative ways of using a museum,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “Moreover, we have made climate, environment and sustainability integral aspects of the process from the outset. By choosing wood as the main construction material, incorporating solar cells, using excess heat and creating an atrium with a rich biodiversity and a rainwater reservoir, among other features, we have achieved our goal and succeeded in creating a CO2-neutral building, if the design is realized as intended. Our hope, as architects, is that we can continue to increase the focus on and improve our ability to create sustainable architecture and construction for the benefit of future generations and the condition of the planet.”




Global Wind Energy Council
In a first big push toward an ambitious state goal to procure 9,000 MW of renewable energy by 2035, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on July 18 the award of its first projects for offshore wind—a total of 1,700 MW—to the U.S. unit of Norwegian developer Equinor, formerly the state-owned energy firm Statoil, and a joint venture of Danish wind giant Ørsted and New England utility firm Eversource Energy.

Both projects are expected to cost at least $3 billion each to develop, with the project awards expected since mid-June.

Cuomo said it is the largest single state award for offshore wind in the U.S. and is set to generate 1,600 jobs and a $3.2-billion economic boost, which includes port and other infrastructure upgrades in several state locations, including Albany, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island, as well as new training and supply chain development investments.

The projects will each be built under a union project labor agreement and await negotiation of a 25 -year offshore wind renewable energy certificate with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Equinor will build a project of 816 MW, a significant boost for the European firm's U.S. market ambitions. The firm says it will build 60 to 80 wind turbines, each about 10MW, with a total investment of $3 billion. The project is set to be operational by 2024, the company says; it did not specify the name of the turbine provider.

Equinor secured an 80,000-acre lease area in the New York Bight for its project.

Ørsted's project will total 880 MW, to include an unspecified number turbines of about 8MW each to be built by Siemens Gamesa. Construction is planned to start in 2021, with the wind farm operational in 2022.

The firm said its offshore wind build-out in New York now will total 1,000 MW, with another previously awarded project off the coast of Long Island.

Ørsted last month also won New Jersey's highly touted first offshore wind project award, which totaled 1,100 MW.

NYSERDA Chairman Richard Kaufman told an offshore wind industry conference in April that the state's 18 received bids from four project developers is a U.S. record.

Gustavo Alkmim via PITTA Arquitetura
Designed by Brazilian firm PITTA Arquitetura, the aptly named Casa Modelo serves as an architectural model for sustainable home design. Built using numerous bioclimatic principles, the solar-powered home has minimal environmental impact on its idyllic tropical setting just outside of São Paulo.

Built for the owner of a sustainable real estate development company, Casa Modelo is located in the remote area of Ubatuba. Surrounded by acres of lush, green, protected biospheres that span out to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the home has a setting that is as idyllic as it gets.

The incredible location set the tone for the design. Working with the homeowner, the architects sought to create a model sustainable home that could serve as a platform for future constructions in the area.

At the forefront of the design was the objective of reducing the home’s impact on the pristine natural setting. Inserting the 1,100-square-foot building into the lot with minimal interference was essential to the project. Accordingly, the timber home is elevated off of the landscape by a concrete platform and pillars that allow natural vegetation to grow under and around the structure.

The local climate is marked by severe humidity, ultra hot summers and considerable rainfall, all of which prompted the designers to create a resilient structure that could stand up to the extreme elements. Not only did elevating the home reduce its impact on the landscape, but it also helps keep ground humidity at bay and improves natural air circulation.

Passive, energy-saving features are found throughout the home, namely in the structure’s large openings and high interior ceilings. The open-plan living area and kitchen open up to the outdoors thanks to a long stretch of sliding glass doors with retractable timber screens on either side of the house. The doors can be completely or partially left open to ensure cool temps and natural ventilation on the interior, a feature that also creates a strong, seamless connection with the outdoors.

Paul Bardagiy
ant to save the planet? Quit using language like “save the planet” and talk about individual health instead. That’s the gist of the recently issued Living Standard report commissioned by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Twenty-five years after the birth of LEED green building standards, the USGBC hired ClearPath Strategies, a global public opinion research company, to measure how the public sees green building. The resulting report shows a public relations problem: Even though building construction and operations account for nearly 40 percent of final global energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, most people don’t make the link between buildings and their environmental impact. This disconnect could be seen as bad news both for the design profession and for the planet. It could also be seen as an invitation to the building industry to take on a much bigger role in building a sustainable future — even if that’s not a word we use to describe it.

The Living Standard report illustrates how survey respondents ranked different concerns (health care and immigration, high; environment, middle) and potential solutions (recycling and water conservation, high; green building, way low). That survey also measured what kind of language made people feel more willing to take action. In the words of the report, “There is a real gap between the conceptual enormity of the problem and how people seek to address it in their daily lives.” Planetary health? Far too big a concept. Individual health? That’s something everyone can get behind.

The USGBC has long been concerned with public perception of green building, and rightly so. Before LEED (the now-standard acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), there were few resources for people who were curious about the energy consumption, materials sourcing, or health impacts of buildings. Gail Vittori, a founding member of the USGBC and current member of the GBCI, describes how LEED and similar programs helped to develop not just a vocabulary but a way of thinking. “The value of a tool like LEED is that, as it started to have market penetration, you literally had hundreds if not thousands of teams of people sitting around a table saying, ‘What’s the VOC content in the paint?’ We take it for granted now, but in the beginning, you’d have to carve out two hours of time to get on the phone with Sherwin Williams to find someone who could begin to answer your question. How is it today that I can go into Home Depot and every single can of paint will not only tell me what the VOC content is, but most of them will be compliant with a very low VOC content? That’s market transformation.” As co-founder, with Pliny Fisk III, of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems (CMPBS), Vittori works with clients to integrate sustainable strategies into large-scale building projects. She notes that she and Fisk now rarely use the words “sustainable” and “green.” “Cleaning up the jargon is what this is about. The point is that you can talk about concepts in a way that doesn’t immediately create this chasm of, ‘Oh, you’re on the inside of that topic,’ or ‘You’re on the outside of that topic.’ We all have buildings as part of our lives.”

Market transformation, while necessary, tends to be slow. Meanwhile, research suggests that we have a six-to-10-year window to make changes to avoid irreversible environmental damage. Within that time frame, the U.S. and other wealthy countries will need to get their emissions down to zero, and for that to happen, whatever we design and build now has to be a part of that reduction. In the words of climate activist Greta Thunberg, “Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.”

So where to start? LEED provides a metric for building performance, as do local building programs like the Austin Energy Green Building Program. The 2030 Palette from the Architecture 2030 Challenge, which calls for buildings and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030, offers “swatches” of possible design strategies and materials. A few miles down the road from CMPBS, architect Lauren Stanley, AIA, is developing a materials palette for a new house that she and husband Lars Stanley, FAIA, plan to build following the guidelines of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Like LEED, LBC provides a metric for building performance, but while LEED
ZGF Architects
The Portland Historic Landmarks Commission voted Monday to approve plans for a five-story office building intended to be the city’s first certified living building.

Commissioners voted 4-0 in favor of the PAE Living Building, a 54,000-square-foot mixed-use office building planned for a quarter-block parcel at the corner of Southwest First Avenue and Pine Street in the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District.

The project received design advice in January, at which time commissioners praised the concept and asked for a few small changes in the fifth-floor window layout to better match the classic 19th century Italianate style found throughout the district.

Designers with ZGF Architects responded with changes including establishing a more clear delineation between floors and extending golden ratio proportions to the top of the building.

The response from commissioners was ultimately what the project team was looking for.

“I really love the building,” Commissioner Ernestina Fuenmayor said. “I think it’s a great addition; if you push yourself you can get great results and I think this is a very good example of that.”

Other small changes included the addition of larger ground-floor canopies and additional details added to the tops of ground-floor windows.

The project team includes PAE Consulting Engineers, which will occupy three floors of the building, as well as developer Gerding Edlen and general contractor Walsh Construction. The structure will feature cross-laminated timber framing and will contain ground-floor retail space along the frontages of Southwest First Avenue and Pine Street. The second through fifth floors will contain office space.

The building will be clad primarily in textured brick veneer, with custom finished aluminum panels, aluminum storefronts at ground level and fiberglass windows above.
Mischa Keijser/Getty Images
To meet the goals of the resolution, the design and construction industries will retrofit millions of structures and build many more. In the process, they could create a more just and resilient country.

Whether or not the U.S. decides to take action on climate change, the shape of the country—its towns, offices, homes, schools, roads, farms, and more—is on the brink of a radical transformation. This transformation could be borne out in two ways. The first is external: Escalating storms, floods, droughts, mass migration, food scarcity, and economic instability could dramatically alter the physical landscape and economy. The other is internal: A national effort to retrofit millions of buildings and rethink the way communities are designed could help Americans withstand the ravages of climate change and make the country more equitable.

The resolution known as the Green New Deal, published by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey in February, wants to bring about the latter. The Green New Deal framework describes the monumental changes needed to decarbonize the American economy by meeting 100% of our energy demands with zero-emission sources in the next decade. It will require overhauling major industries like energy and agriculture, but also transforming America’s buildings and construction sector.

It’s easy to miss just how destructive and inefficient land development is, given its ubiquity. Existing buildings hoover up about 40% of energy consumed in the U.S. and emit about 29% of greenhouse gases. The Green New Deal calls for retrofitting all of them—every last skyscraper, McDonald’s, and suburban ranch home—for energy efficiency within the next 10 years. It also addresses the role of the construction industry, which accounts for about 11% of all emissions globally, by recommending investment in community-led building projects oriented around decarbonization issues like resiliency, transit, and land preservation. And crucially, it demands family-sustaining wages, the right to organize, and a “just transition” for everyone affected by the transition to this decarbonized world.

House Republicans quickly declared the resolution a “boondoggle” in an official statement. It was an ironic choice of words. Whether the GOP realized it or not, that term emerged in the 1930s, when critics of the New Deal used it to characterize the project of putting broke Americans to work on hundreds of thousands of projects. It’s true that the Green New Deal’s goals—to reshape the country’s homes, workplaces, and economy, and provide equity for all—sound radical in a country ravaged by the housing crisis, worker exploitation, and stagnating wages, but from a technical, structural, and architectural standpoint, they’re entirely feasible. Despite what politicians would have you believe, we’ve done it before, and we have the tools to do it again.

As Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who is leading the creation of policy around the resolution, says, reaching them will mean thinking about transit, land use, housing, building regulations, and more. In short: “What will our cities and towns look like, moving forward?”

DESIGNING A FEDERAL BUILDING PROJECT

According to the Energy Information Administration, there are roughly 5.6 million commercial buildings in the United States. Most of those are small; half are under 5,000 square feet—think of a fast food joint or a doctor’s office. There are also 138 million housing units, which includes both houses and apartment units. Reducing their carbon footprint will involve the crucial, economy-wide shift away from fossil fuels, but also tamping down the amount of energy buildings use in the first place.

Retrofitting tens of millions of houses and apartment buildings, which take lots of energy to heat, cool, and light, isn’t the Green New Deal’s most glamorous clause, but it’s one of its most pressing. As summers get hotter and the population (and thus the housing stock) grows, the urgency will only increase, as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions reports. There will be trillions of lightbulbs to replace. Millions of HVAC units to upgrade, operable windows and automatic shades to install, rooftops to paint with heat-reflecting paint, shade-giving trees to plant and photovoltaics to hook up. Miles and miles of wiring and sensors and automation platforms to get online so it can all be monitored and controlled.

Who will do this work? Who will pay for it? How will it be regulated, in a country where building regulations are determined at local, rather than federal, l
Squint/Opera
Plus, Katerra offers an update on its K90 project in Las Vegas, Google pledges $1 billion toward affordable housing in the Bay Area, and more design-tech news from this week.

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and UNStudio are working with digital agency Squint/Opera on the development of Hyperform, a design platform that facilitates collaboration in 3D augmented reality. Initially prototyped last year, Hyperform allows multiple users to work in scale models as well as immersive 1:1 environments. Users can also create still renderings as well as video recordings. "In the future every physical object will be connected to one another, sensing each other and everything in between," BIG founder Bjarke Ingels said in a press release. "For every physical object there will be a digital twin. For every physical space a virtual space. Hyperform is the augmented creative collaborative environment of the future which will allow an instantaneous confluence of actual and imagined realities—the present and the future fusing in our augmented sense of reality." [Squint/Opera]

In its latest project, New York–based SoftLab has created a "circular constellation" in Manhattan’s Seaport District that features 100 sensor-enabled glowing poles that emit different colors and sounds based on visitors' touch. [ARCHITECT]

This week, tech giant Google pledged to invest $1 billion in land and money to construct houses to help ease the housing crisis in the Bay Area. Over the next 10 years, the company has promised to convert $750 million of its land that is currently zoned for commercial development into residential property for some 15,000 new houses. Additionally, Google will establish a $250 million investment fund to assist developers in creating 5,000 affordable housing units. "In the coming months, we’ll continue to work with local municipalities to support plans that allow residential developers to build quickly and economically," the company writes in a press release. "Our goal is to get housing construction started immediately, and for homes to be available in the next few years." [Google]

Menlo Park, Calif.–based technology and construction company Katerra has released an update on K90—its ambitious garden apartment project in Las Vegas that the company is aiming to complete in 90 days. While slab-up construction typically takes 120 to 150 days, Katerra is believes it can deliver in a little over half the time using proprietary tools such as a material auditing app that alerts construction teams to incoming materials—which are delivered directly to installation point rather than a general project-site drop-off—wall panels that have pre-installed electrical wiring, and its bath kit that includes carpet, tile, plumbing fixtures, hardware, wood trim, light fixtures, light sources, and mirrors. [Katerra]

Researcher from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) in Japan published findings that adding a "self healing" protective layer of epoxy resin to perovskite solar cells (PSC) helps reduce leakage of pollutants, helping to push the technology toward commercial viability. “Although PSCs are efficient at converting sunlight into electricity at an affordable cost, the fact that they contain lead raises considerable environmental concern,” said OIST professor Yabing Qi in a press release. “While so-called ‘lead-free’ technology is worth exploring, it has not yet achieved efficiency and stability comparable to lead-based approaches. Finding ways of using lead in PSCs while keeping it from leaking into the environment, therefore, is a crucial step for commercialization.” [OIST]
COBE and Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST
Copenhagen-based architectural firm COBE has just unveiled what are possibly the most beautiful and sustainable electric vehicle charging stations in the world. Built entirely from recyclable materials and powered by solar energy, these ultra-fast charging stations not only recharge a vehicle in just 15 minutes but also offer drivers a welcoming place to rest and relax. The first COBE-designed EV charging station was installed on the E20 motorway in the Danish city of Fredericia, with 47 more planned along Scandinavian highways: seven more in Denmark, 20 in Sweden and 20 in Norway.

Created in partnership with Powered by E.ON Drive & Clever, the COBE-designed EV charging station consists of a series of “trees” made primarily from certified wood. The tree-inspired structures feature a canopy that provides shade and protection from the elements, while also providing space for a green roof and solar panels. The modular structures are scalable so that multiple “tree” structures can be combined into a “grove.”

The Fredericia charging station features a “grove” of 12 “trees” with a 400-square-meter canopy. The Danish Society for Nature Conservation helped select the plantings that surround the charging station to enhance biodiversity and create a calming, “zen-like” atmosphere radically different from a traditional gas station setting.

“Electric vehicles are the way of the future,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “With our design, we offer EV drivers a time-out and an opportunity to mentally recharge in a green oasis. The energy and the technology are green, so we wanted the architecture, the materials and the concept to reflect that. So, we designed a charging station in sustainable materials placed in a clean, calm setting with trees and plantings that offer people a dose of mindfulness on the highway.”

The firm’s design of the ultra-fast EV charging station won the infrastructure award of the 2018 Danish Building Awards and is being implemented across Scandinavia with support from EU Commission projects Connecting Europe Facility and High Speed Electric Mobility Across Europe.


Adam Mørk / International Olympic Committee
Copenhagen studio 3XN has completed Olympic House, a new headquarters for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland.

3XN collaborated with Swiss architecture office IttenBrechbühl to create the building, which has been designed around the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) principles.

"We designed the building around five key objectives that translate the Olympic movement's core values into built form: movement, transparency, flexibility, sustainability, and collaboration," Kim Herforth Nielsen, co-founder of 3XN, told Dezeen.

Built within a public park on the shore of Lake Geneva, Olympic House stands next to 18th-century castle Château de Vidy. Created as offices for the organisation's 500 staff, many of the building's elements reference the Olympics.

"Every part of the building has a meaning," said Jan Ammundsen, head of design at 3XN.

"From the dynamic glass facade that mimics the high-powered athleticism of an Olympic athlete, to the central staircase that references the iconic Olympic rings and the spirit of international collaboration that they represent."

The five-storey building is wrapped in a glass facade, which was created using parametric design – a digital process that allows you to test various design iterations.

Appearing differently from all angles, it is intended to represent the energy of an athlete. It also allows visitors to the park to see inside the building and observe the workings of the Olympic organisation.

"The visual transparency of the building is a metaphor for the new direction of the IOC as they strive towards a greater organisational transparency, reflected in the overall structural changes initiated by the Olympic Agenda 2020," explained Nielsen.

"The glass facade allows the daily work of the building’s inhabitants to be visible from the outside, and aThe headquarters is arranged around a central atrium, with all five storeys connected by the Unity Staircase.

lso celebrates its particular location by providing stunning views of the lake beyond."

This oak staircase, which has been designed to references the five rings on the Olympic flag, is surrounded by a meeting rooms and exhibition spaces, with a cafeteria on the ground floor.

"The staircase is designed to be visual expression of unity and collaboration within the organisation and the Olympic Games," added Nielsen.

Around the central atrium the offices have been designed to follow the Olympic core values of collaboration, flexibility and movement.

"At 3XN we believe that architecture shapes behaviour – thus, we have designed the interior with as few structural constraints as possible, in order to facilitate interaction and communication among the staff," added Ammundsen.

"The offices can be easily moved though the open spaces, and workspaces can be modified to suite the ever-changing needs of the organisation."
David Maurice Smith/The New York Times/Redux
Australia approves Adani coal mine, endangering the Great Barrier Reef and, well, civilization

Thanks to President Trump and his transparent and perverse desire to enrich his golfing buddies in the fossil fuel industry and to accelerate the climate crisis, the U.S. is the most notorious climate criminal in the world right now. But the Aussies are giving us a run for our money.

Exhibit A: the decision this week by the Queensland State government to allow a big coal mine in northeastern Australia to move forward. The project, known as the Carmichael mine, is controlled by the Adani Group, an Indian corporate behemoth headed by billionaire Gautam Adani. If it ever opens, the Carmichael mine would not be the biggest coal mine in the world, or even the biggest coal mine in Australia. But it may be the most insane energy project on the planet, and one that shows just how far supposedly civilized nations (and people) are from grasping what’s at stake in the climate crisis.

The site for the Carmichael mine is in the Galilee Basin, an unspoiled region of Queensland that Adani has been itching to get his hands on for at least a decade. The battle over the mine has been the usual sordid tale of fossil fuel industry development, in which a rich, powerful, politically connected corporation gets its way with weak and corrupt politicians.

But of course there are a lot of stupid and destructive energy projects in the world right now. What makes Adani worse than the others?

Let’s start with the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian Marine Conservation Society called the approval of the mine “bad news” for the reef. That’s an almost criminal understatement.

The approval of the Adani project is an aggressive attack on the 1,600-mile-long reef in two deadly ways. First, by condoning the mining and burning of coal, which is heating up and acidifiying the oceans and killing coral reefs, Australian politicians are essentially saying they are willing to sacrifice one of the great wonders of the world for a few jobs for their pals and some extra cash in their pockets. In fact, a key part of the Adani project is a new coal terminal on the Queensland coast, which is right at the edge of the Barrier Reef. That means more industrialization in the area, more water pollution, more coal barges floating over the reef, more risk of disasters that would dump dirty black rocks on one of nature’s crown jewels.

I spent a few days diving on the Barrier Reef last year, and I can tell you, there are few sights more surreal to anyone who cares about the fate of the planet than watching a ship loaded with coal heading out over the Great Barrier Reef. Healthy coral reefs are the rainforests of the ocean, teeming with life and vital to the underwater ecosystem. I saw stretches of brightly colored coral crowded with sharks, starfish, urchins and even a Manta-ray. But I also saw vast expanses of bleached coral that looked like underwater deserts. A 2018 Nature study described the reef on the verge of collapse. “We thought the Barrier Reef was too big to fail,” one researcher said, “but it’s not.”

The mine is insane on another level, too. The coal will be exported to India, a nation that is hugely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and is struggling to make the transition to clean energy. Last week, at the same moment that Queensland politicians were approving the Adani project, northern India was sweltering under a 120-degree F heat wave so brutal that people were advised not to venture outdoors after 11 a.m. and a 33-year-old man was beaten to death in a dispute over water.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

By itself, the Adani project is not huge. It’s expected to produce about ten million tons of coal a year at first (that’s about the size of a big mine in the Wyoming’s Powder River Basin). But the project includes a 200-mile long railroad to the coal terminal on the Queensland coast, which could potentially open the remote Galilee Basin to further development.

The biggest myth associated with the Adani mine may be that continuing to mine and export coal is somehow vital to the Australian economy. It is not. As James Bradley points out, although coal accounts for almost 15 per cent of Australia’s exports, it contributes less than 1 percent of the Commonwealth government’s total revenue. And it’s not like the industry creates a lot of jobs, either. In 2018, it employed slightly fewer than 50,000 people. That’s less than 0.4 per
Garrett Rowland
Perkins+Will has overhauled the North American headquarters of consumer goods company Unilever, with new communal areas designed to help employees forget they're in a suburban office park.

British-Dutch manufacturer Unilever has long had its North American headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, just across the river from New York City.

But increasingly, the company has needed a more dynamic work environment to help recruit employees.

rchitecture firm Perkins+Will was charged with rethinking the corporate campus, which accommodates about 1,450 employees and several hundred independent contractors.

The goal was to create a showpiece headquarters that would be "smart, sustainable and Instagram-ready – with a feeling like you were in Manhattan".

Rather that razing the site and starting fresh, the architects chose to renovate four existing rectilinear buildings. They also added a lofty central atrium that rises 40 feet (12 metres) on the site of a former courtyard.

"The 325,000-square-foot renovation included interiors, as well as the construction of an entry pavilion and common area that stitched together the open space between individual buildings to create an entirely new, enclosed structure," said the firm.

The existing buildings, which date back to the 1960s and 70s, are completely revamped.

Traditional, cellular layouts are replaced with open workspaces, huddle rooms and lounges. Because there are no assigned desks, lockers have also been added, providing employees with a secure place for their belongings.

The central volume houses The Marketplace, where employees can shop, work and socialise. The vast, light-filled space features cafe tables and a giant staircase that doubles as seating.

Additional amenities at the campus include coffee stations, a fitness centre, a hair salon and a cafeteria.

Throughout the facility, concrete floors and exposed ceilings give interior spaces an industrial look. Wooden decor and eclectic furnishings help soften the atmosphere. In one area, the team created a living room, complete with a fireplace set within a brick wall.

The building features a range of smart technologies, including thousands of sensors that measure light, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and human presence.

"The final building design incorporates smart technologies by EDGE that record data and automate the building's features and functions, including internet-of-things systems that enable the building to learn from occupants' behaviours and remember their preferences," the team said.

In addition to the smart systems, the building's sustainable elements include solar panels and ample natural light.

During construction, 75 per cent of the construction material was diverted away from landfills. To help reduce car usage by employees, the company offers a shuttle service from New York City, Hoboken and Jersey City.
Sebastian Ganso
Britain recently upped the ante on its commitment to fight climate change, promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The new governmental plan is more ambitious than its original Climate Change Act from 2008, which pledged to reduce emissions by 80 percent. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed net-zero is a necessary step for Britain and a moral duty as well as a strategy to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs.

Britain is the first G7 country to propose carbon neutrality, an ambitious goal that environmentalists hope will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase their Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments.

According to Prime Minister May, Britain’s economy can continue to grow alongside the transition to renewable energy. “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” she said.

Net-zero on a national level will mean that effectively all homes, transportation, farming and industries will not consume more energy than the country can generate through renewable energy. For certain cases where this is impossible, it will mean that companies and industries purchase carbon offsets.

The roll out of this plan is to be determined but must include a variety of individual- and national-level actions, including a massive investment in the renewable energy industry as well as a reduction in meat consumption and flying and a total shift to electric cars, LED light bulbs and hydrogen gas heating.

According to BBC, Prime Minister May also claimed that the U.K.
“led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.”

This claim erases the true legacy of the industrial revolution and the role Britain played, which includes environmental destruction, exacerbated inequality and economic exploitation of many nations — not wealth.

Whether or not Britain is a world leader, its pledge might convince other nations to increase or at least stick to their commitments to reduce emissions.
Nic Lehoux
Built entirely of teak harvested on-site, this breezy solar-powered home near the beach ticks all the right boxes for a pair of avid environmentalists who love surfing.

When a couple of surfers with a passion for sustainability wanted a surf getaway in Costa Rica, they turned to Olson Kundig to bring their dream to life.

"The clients are surfers as well as avid environmentalists, and were seeking a vacation home that would reflect their deep commitment to sustainable land management in Costa Rica," explains the Seattle–based architecture firm, whose commitment to sustainable design and contextual craftsmanship drew the clients’ attention.

"Designed as an open-air surfer hut, the project engages the Costa Rican landscape in various ways, from the vegetation accessible just off the main floor, to the larger weather and surf patterns one can experience on the top level."

The architects dubbed the 2,140-square-foot home the Costa Rica Tree House after its tall and slim three-story structure that rises above the treetops, as well as for its use of locally harvested teak as a primary building and finish material.

Since the clients wanted immersion in nature, the house is set amidst dense jungle on a fairly secluded peninsula near Playa Hermosa beach. Instead of treating the remote location as an obstacle, Olson Kundig saw the property as an "ideal opportunity to source local materials and be inventive with solving design challenges."

In addition to locally felled timber, the architects worked with the contractor to craft fully custom balcony railings out of welded steel instead of rebar, which would have been difficult to import to the site. Many of the furnishings were also locally purchased or fabricated by the contractor.

The clients also wanted the home to operate passively and remain open to the outdoors. "Creating an open, naturally ventilated house in such a wet climate was certainly a challenge," notes Olson Kundig. "The double-layer movable screens help to keep water out, and the large roof overhang and gutter drainage systems are likewise designed to keep the interior of the home protected and dry."



Tesla
We take a first look at Tesla’s latest solar roof tile technology with custom fittings through a new document from Tesla obtained by Electrek.

As we reported yesterday, Tesla is currently completing the third version of its Solar Roof, which they claim will bring the price down significantly.

Tesla’s solar roof tiles are part of Elon Musk’s plan to offer solar products with better aesthetics in order to create a distinctive brand that can be differentiated from other installers on a product basis.

He said when first announcing the product that they were working on such solar products:

“I think this is really a fundamental part of achieving differentiated product strategy,”

The CEO believes that current solar products look all the same and that roofs are ugly.

The solar roof was Tesla’s solution to this problem. The tiles originally unveiled were sleek looking, but Tesla is now also making sure that they mesh with the rest of the roof for an overall sleek design.

In a new document sent to some customers and obtained by Electrek, Tesla describes the custom fittings:

“Custom designed flashings and ridgecaps fit around your home’s unique design and roof pitch while accentuating the Solar Roof tiles and ensuring maximum weather-proofing. The end result is a roof that looks better and lasts longer.”

Tesla also says that they are replacing vents and other things sticking out of the roof in order to match the solar tiles.

They wrote in the document:

“Vents and skylights are replaced or modified to match your new Solar Roof aesthetic. Certain air vents can be replaced entirely with Solar Roof’s integrated ventilation. Those vents that can’t be removed will be replaced or modified to ensure exceptional visual appeal.“

At Tesla’s 2019 shareholder’s meeting earlier this week, Musk said Tesla was still working on longevity testing for the new version of its solar roof tiles and that they are now installing the solar product in 8 states.

The CEO also boasted about the price of the Solar Roof V3 being equivalent to a shingle roof plus electric bill.

Stay tuned for more about Tesla Solar Roof pricing.
Nelson Garrido
When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish.

The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban.

“As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.”

Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter.

Pixabay
Finland's new government has promised to reduce the country's fossil-fuel consumption and invest in renewable energy sources, after 80 per cent of Finns called for urgent action on climate change.

Following elections earlier this year, a new left-leaning government has promised to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035, with the target to be written into Finnish law.

"We are determined to tackle the challenge of climate change. But it needs to be done in a socially fair way," prime minister Antti Rinne, who was sworn in yesterday, said at the cabinet's first news conference.

In a recent government poll, 80 per cent of Finnish people surveyed said they felt that urgent action was required on climate change. A third of the country's land is in the Arctic Circle and rising temperatures will melt its permafrost and cause sea levels to rise in the Baltic.

"Building the world's first sustainable society"

To become carbon neutral in 15 years time, Finland will cut back on logging investments and try to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and peat. It will also invest in renewable energy, including wind, solar and bioenergy, and heating and transport will be electrified.

Currently Finland operates one of the largest peat-fired power plants in the world, Toppila Power Station in the city of Oulu.

"Building the world's first fossil-free, sustainable society is going to require much more than nice words on paper, but we're determined to make it happen," Sini Harkki, a representative of Greenpeace in Finland, told the Guardian.

Instead of buying credits for carbon capture projects in other countries Finland plans to achieve the goal through reducing its own carbon emissions, although this policy will be reviewed in 2025.

Climate change and welfare made a priority

Finland's incumbent government aims to raise €730 million (£650 million) through taxes, including those on fossil fuels and selling off state assets. This money will be used for the carbon programme and improvements to the country's welfare system.

Finland's Social Democratic Party, the Green League and the Left Alliance all made gains in the April 2019 elections, despite the populist Finns Party warning, as reported in the New York Times, that the left's climate goals would "take the sausage from the mouths of labourers".

The town of Li in northern Finland has already been setting its own ambitious targets to help tackle climate change. The town will cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2020 and is aiming to become the country's first zero-waste community.

The picture on climate change is not as rosy elsewhere in Europe.

Recent elections in Spain have seen the country's government move to the right, with officials from Partido Popular pledging to scrap Madrid's low emissions zone, despite recent improvements in air quality.

Main image, showing the peat-fired Toppila Power Station in Oulu, is from Pixabay.
Pixabay
Hungary has revealed plans to build a new carbon-neutral greenhouse-filled farming city that will be powered by renewable energy sources.

The €1 billion (£877 million) agricultural centre is proposed for the border between Hungary, Austria and Slovakia. It will cover 330 hectares – equivalent to 500 football pitches.

Hungary's minister of agriculture István Nagy said the development would herald an "epoch change for agriculture". German developers FAKT and energy providers EON are collaborating with the Hungarian government on the project.

Farms will run on renewable energy

The new district will be home to a complex of greenhouses for the year-round cultivation of herbs and vegetables such as aubergines and tomatoes. It will also be the location of "Europe's largest onshore fish farm", as well as the requisite cold storage and logistics facilities.

EON will be supplying the renewable energy to power these farms. This will be mainly in the form of solar and biogas, reported Bloomberg. Geothermal plants, a form of sustainable power that uses energy from the earth, will be used to provide cooling.

The settlement will be carbon neutral, meaning that the carbon dioxide produced in its construction and over its lifetime will be offset or eliminated entirely.

"Customers and society demand innovative, sustainable solutions that change our way of life and work today," said EON director Alexander Fenzl.

"Sustainable, reliable and yet affordable energy solutions [...] are essential for shaping the living and working spaces of the future."

Sustainability is a global priority

Around 1,000 homes for workers will be located in a new residential area, complete with a kindergarten and elementary level school, as well as shops and hotels.

"With the project we want to set a standard for the sustainable integration of work and living in Europe," said FAKT CEO Hubert Schulte-Kemper.

Pressure to seriously address climate change is mounting, with a UN report warning that we have just 12 years to prevent global warming rising above 1.5 degrees and triggering environmental disaster.

New urban developments around the world are already prioritising sustainability.

UNStudio has planned a new district in Amsterdam that will have a circular economy, processing its own waste and producing its own renewable energy. OMA has masterplanned an area for Milan that will turn disused goods yards into green parks for the city.

In India, BIG has masterplanned a new tech city for Bangalore that will be painted in cooling white paint, while Foster + Partners has designed a new state capital Andhra Pradesh, which aims to be one of the most sustainable cities in the world.
MAD Architects
MAD Architects has unveiled a snowflake-shaped design for Terminal 3 of Harbin Taiping International Airport that draws inspiration from the region’s snowy landscape and boasts greater operational efficiency and energy savings as compared to typical terminal architecture. Located in the capital of China’s Heilongjiang Province, the Harbin Taping International Airport is one of the largest transportation hubs in Northeast Asia. The new Terminal 3 will greatly expand the airport’s capacity and cover an area of 3,300 hectares.

As with almost all of MAD Architects’ work, the Harbin Taiping International Airport’s Terminal 3 design evokes a futuristic feel with sinuous lines and modern materials. The terminal will consist of ancillary airport facilities, including ground transportation hubs, a hotel, retail and parking lots. The ridges on the roof, which mimic snowdrifts and the gentle slopes of China’s Northern plains, serve as skylights that bathe the interior with natural light and warmth. Lush indoor gardens connect the building’s different levels and delineate major zones in the terminal.

“Like a snowflake that has gently fallen onto the earth, it creates an architectural poetry that settles into its locale, while simultaneously expressing itself as a surreal, interstellar space of future air travel,” the architects explained. “While the massiveness of the terminal is inevitable, MAD’s design manages to establish an architectural program that is human-scale and provides a multi-sensory experience that is also efficient and energy saving. The scheme’s snowflake-shaped, five-finger departure corridors greatly shorten the time it takes for passengers to arrive at their gate, while also minimizing congestion and improving the overall efficiency of the airport apron.”

Once complete, Terminal 3 will be seamlessly connected to Harbin City via the Ground Transportation Center hub that offers high-speed rail, municipal subway lines, airport buses and other urban transit together. MAD Architects’ focus on efficiency and energy saving is particularly important, given the forecasts for the new terminal: by 2030, Terminal 3 is expected to cater to 43 million passengers annually, with approximately 320,000 outgoing flights per year.


C40 Cities
The Reinventing Cities competition asked architects to find new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in cities around the world. The results are an extraordinary example of what future cities could look like.

As the world moves to a zero-carbon future, cities will be key places to transform–particularly buildings, which account for more than half of emissions in most cities. Reinventing Cities, a competition launched two years ago by C40 Cities, a network of mayors focused on finding solutions to climate change, asked architects to reimagine new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in six cities: Chicago, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Oslo, and Reykjavík. These are the winning proposals; the winning teams now have the chance to buy or lease each site to develop the projects.

GARFIELD GREEN
On two vacant lots in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood, a new net-zero carbon housing development is designed to run on renewable energy, grow food on the roof, and process stormwater onsite. The ultra-efficient buildings, designed to “passive house” standards, would be built in a local modular factory.

MERCADO HABITADO II
An unused market building in Madrid would be renovated with recycled materials and certified wood and would produce its own power through solar panels on the roof and walls. Inside the market, the community would have access to local, organic produce and workshops about climate change.

TERCER SONIDO
On vacant land in a part of Madrid sandwiched between an industrial and residential area, a new development would include student housing, rehearsal spaces and an auditorium for musicians, an organic store, and space for urban farming. Nearly half of the surface area would be devoted to green space.

CAMPUS FOR LIVING CITIES
A new zero-emissions student hub at the Polytechnic University of Madrid–with housing, sport and art facilities, and a lab for sustainability research projects–would use a passive design to shrink energy use. Outside, the walls would be covered in holes to create habitats for plants and animals.

URBAN BATTERY
A new factory in Madrid would manufacture biodegradable zinc-air batteries and run on energy from a solar farm on the property, creating more than 100 local jobs. Regenerative agriculture techniques would rehabilitate the soil, and an onsite “Compostlab” would produce compost from local waste.

L’INNESTO
At a former freight terminal site in Milan, a new social housing project would be the first in Italy to be carbon neutral. The design limits space for personal cars and has extra space for bike parking, charging stations for electric cars, and a neighborhood car-sharing scheme. The buildings would be powered by onsite renewable energy and connected to district heating.

Seon-Yeong Kwak
Sheila Kennedy and MIT researchers team up to introduce bioluminescent plants into architecture.

Even without the billion-plus people who still lack access to electricity, global electrical networks are under considerable stress. The aging and unreliable U.S. power grid strains to keep up with Americans’ increasing appetite for electricity. Gretchen Bakke, author of The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future (Bloomsbury, 2016), has argued that the grid's near-obsolescence makes it the “weakest link” in achieving our energy aspirations.

One of the more taxing demands on the grid is lighting. Despite recent improvements in energy efficient sources, such as LEDs, lighting consumes 15 percent of worldwide energy and is responsible for 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Department of Energy report.

Such concerns have long motivated the work of Sheila Kennedy, FAIA, of Boston-based Kennedy & Violich Architecture. Kennedy’s experiments with materials as vehicles for low-power light sources have resulted in innovative solar textiles, sunlight-delivery systems, and the Portable Light project, a mobile, solar-powered illumination solution for communities lacking access to electricity. Her latest effort, developed in collaboration with MIT chemical engineering professor Michael Strano, utilizes plants as the light delivery mechanism.

Currently on display at the Cooper Hewitt 2019 Design Triennial, the Plant Properties project utilizes biocompatible, GMO-free techniques to generate ambient lighting with live plants, transforming living foliage into a zero-energy light source. Kennedy has long been exploring the implications of this biodesign approach to illuminating the constructed environment. According to the project statement, “The Plant Properties installation demonstrates the architecture of a post-electric, vegetal future when people depend upon living plants for oxygen, water remediation, and ambient light.” Plant Properties depicts the reconfiguration of an New York City brownstone to support the cultivation of light-emitting plants.
Building Enclosure
The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has set an ambitious goal: to become a Net Zero Energy airport. One of the ways this airport is achieving this is by incorporating renewable energy technologies into new buildings, including the Consolidated Administration Campus (CAC), which is Net Zero Energy capable. The 135,000 square foot building was designed by two architectural firms, Perkins + Will and Mark Cavagnero Associates.

To contribute to sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives, more than 55,000 square feet of BENCHMARK Designwall 2000 Architectural Wall Panels from Kingspan were selected.

Kingspan’s Designwall 2000 panels contain polyisocyanurate foam core insulation that has been GREENGUARD Gold certified, so they have been third-party tested to ensure that their components are not harmful to building occupants and do not adversely impact indoor environment quality (IEQ). The GREENGUARD Gold certification can help earn credits for LEED certification, Green Guide for Health Care, Green Globes and other rating programs.

“The building is net zero energy capable with a modeled energy use intensity score of 25, so the internal systems and exterior envelope were designed holistically to support those goals,” said Sarah Rege, senior project manager at Perkins + Will.

SFO’s CAC building was awarded LEED Gold status by the United States Green Building Council. That designation is a high priority for SFO, as it is aiming to become a net zero energy campus by 2021. If successful, it will be the world’s first net zero energy airport campus.

The insulated metal panels were installed both horizontally and vertically on the exterior walls as well as soffits. The design called for an extensive use of extrusions; more than 700 were used on the base, walls, corners and parapet of the building. In addition to extrusions, approximately 4,000 feet of flashing was used to give the CAC building a finished, modern look.

“Insulated metal panels provide an ideal exterior cladding to meet a very high energy conservation target for this project,” said Kang Kiang, partner at Mark Cavagnero Associates. “Additionally, the panels provide exceptional acoustic insulation properties, ideal for a site with close adjacency to traffic and plane noise.”

The SFO Consolidated Administration Campus (CAC) houses workers from four departments – administration, landside, terminal and airside operations. The CAC is also home to the SFO Museum, common areas, retail shops and a café.

“We have a 5,000-acre campus with an asset portfolio of over 14.5 million square feet, across nearly 70 buildings that currently consume 440GWh of energy each year. If we can get to zero, what’s stopping others?” said SFO’s Chief Development Officer Geoff Neumayr.
United Nations Photo/Flickr., CC BY-NC-ND
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared that skyscrapers made of glass and steel “have no place in our city or our Earth anymore”. He argued that their energy inefficient design contributes to global warming and insisted that his administration would restrict glassy high-rise developments in the city.

Glass has always been an unlikely material for large buildings, because of how difficult it becomes to control temperature and glare indoors. In fact, the use of fully glazed exteriors only became possible with advances in air conditioning technology and access to cheap and abundant energy, which came about in the mid-20th century. And studies suggest that on average, carbon emissions from air conditioned offices are 60 percent higher than those from offices with natural or mechanical ventilation.

As part of my research into sustainable architecture, I have examined the use of glass in buildings throughout history. Above all, one thing is clear: if architects had paid more attention to the difficulties of building with glass, the great environmental damage wrought by modern glass skyscrapers could have been avoided.

Heat and glare
The United Nations Secretariat in New York, constructed between 1947 and 1952, was the earliest example of a fully air conditioned tower with a glass curtain wall – followed shortly afterwards by Lever House on Park Avenue. Air conditioning enabled the classic glass skyscraper to become a model for high rise office developments in cities across the world – even hot places such as Dubai and Sydney.

Yet as far back as the 19th century, horticulturists in Europe intimately understood how difficult it is to keep the temperature stable inside glass structures – the massive hot houses they built to host their collections. They wanted to maintain the hot environment needed to sustain exotic plants, and devised a large repertoire of technical solutions to do so.

Early central heating systems, which made use of steam or hot water, helped to keep the indoor atmosphere hot and humid. Glass was covered with insulation overnight to keep the warmth in, or used only on the south side together with better insulated walls, to take in and hold heat from the midday sun.

The Crystal Palace

When glass structures were transformed into spaces for human habitation, the new challenge was to keep the interior sufficiently cool. Preventing overheating in glass buildings has proven enormously difficult – even in Britain’s temperate climate. The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park – a temporary pavilion built to house the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in 1851 – was a case in point.

The Crystal Palace was the first large-scale example of a glass structure designed specifically for use by people. It was designed by Joseph Paxton, chief gardener at the Duke of Devonshire’s Chatsworth Estate, drawing on his experience constructing timber-framed glasshouses.

Though recognised as a risky idea at the time, organisers decided to host the exhibition inside a giant glasshouse in the absence of a more practical alternative. Because of its modular construction and prefabricated parts, the Crystal Palace could be put together in under ten months – perfect for the organisers’ tight deadline.

To address concerns about overheating and exposing the exhibits to too much sunlight, Paxton adopted some of the few cooling methods available at the time: shading, natural ventilation and eventually removing some sections of glass altogether. Several hundred large louvres were positioned inside the wall of the building, which had to be adjusted manually by attendants several times a day.

Despite these precautions, overheating became a major issue over the summer of 1851, and was the subject of frequent commentaries in the daily newspapers. An analysis of data recorded inside the Crystal Palace between May and October 1851 shows that the indoor temperature was extremely unstable. The building accentuated – rather than reduced – peak summer temperatures.

These challenges forced the organisers to temporarily remove large sections of glazing. This procedure was repeated several times before parts of the glazing were permanently replaced with canvas curtains, which could be opened and closed depending on how hot the sun was. When the Crystal Palace was re-erected as a popular leisure pa
LafargeHolcim Foundation
At the sixth International LafargeHolcim Forum for Sustainable Construction, design leaders discussed and debated a path forward for sustainable construction.

The familiar paradox faced by those both involved in material-intensive new development projects and concerned for the environment arose last month at a summit of global design leaders and materials experts in Cairo.

Hosted by the LafargeHolcim Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Swiss building materials manufacturer, the sixth International LafargeHolcim Forum for Sustainable Construction gathered some 350 architects, material researchers, and sustainable construction experts from more than 50 nations at the American University of Cairo, in Egypt, on April 4-6 to discuss the theme of "rematerializing construction." ARCHITECT attended the triennial forum as part of LafargeHolcim's invited press corps.

Attendees heard keynotes by architecture heavyweights such as Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA, Francis Kéré, Hon. FAIA, and Anne Lacaton, with roundtable discussions moderated by Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena and Green Building Australia founding CEO Maria Atkinson; visited historic sites and informal settlements to see the good and the bad of Cairo's construction boom; and moved between four concurrent workshops distinguished by subject matter: recyclable and alternative material implementation, material production and energy use patterns, design digitization, and material supply chain improvement.

Discussion

It has become an accepted fact that the built environment and the construction industry are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a 2017 report coordinated by the United Nations Environment Program, the built environment accounts for 39 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. As presenter Maarten Gielen, a designer and manager of Brussels-based material flows collective Rotor, put it: Raw materials are just too cheap, giving builders little incentive to consider alternative or reclaimed materials. And so the cycle continues: Workers extract virgin materials and subject them to energy-intensive processing, and then builders overuse those materials and send many of them to landfill. This reality is abundantly evident in the forum host city of New Cairo—an affluent community about an hour away from its namesake, and the location of the American University—where piles of leftover building materials from new construction and demolition litter the streets.

The five keynote addresses and workshop presentations offered insights into ongoing sustainable construction and design practices and presented alternatives for how the industry can reduce its carbon footprint. German architect Anna Heringer, co-moderator of a workshop on design digitization, outlined her work in Bangladesh collaborating with communities to use local earth to build schools. Mariana Popescu, a doctoral researcher in ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group, presented ultrathin knitted concrete formwork as a material- and time-saving alternative to conventional milled formwork. American artist and MycoWorks founder Phil Ross showcased biodegradable leather made of mycelium, the fibrous root of fungi.
decaARCHITECTURE and George Messaritakis
On the southern coast of Crete, Greek architectural firm decaARCHITECTURE has turned a commission for a modern residence into an opportunity for land preservation. Named the Ring House for its rounded shape, the house was created to follow the existing topography and looks like an extension of its hilltop location. The site had been scarred by environmentally insensitive infrastructural development but has now recovered its original morphology and has been replanted with native flora.

Located in the seaside village of Agia Galini, the Ring House is surrounded with beautiful sea views, yet suffers hot summers. To create a cooling microclimate, the architects built part of the structure into the earth and added several protected shaded areas, as well as an inner garden planted with a variety of citrus trees and edible plants. The resulting effect is one that the architects liken to an “oasis within an intensely beautiful but physically demanding environment.”

“At a broader scale, the house is a landscape preservation effort,” explain the architects. “In the past, the topography had been severely scarred by the random and informal carving of roads. The excavation material extracted during the house’s construction, was used to recover the original morphology of the land. Furthermore, a thorough survey of the native flora was done in order to understand the predominant biotopes in the different slopes in the plot. During the spring, prior to construction, seeds were collected on site and cultivated in a green house to grow more seeds. These were then sowed over the road scars for the regeneration of the flora.”

Concrete beams that follow the existing topography of the hill and frame the inner garden define the Ring House. The entrance sequence begins from the parking pad to a long, curved walkway that wraps around the inner garden and provides access to the bedrooms on one side of the home and the open-plan living areas on the other side. The house is powered with rooftop solar panels.



KRJ Architecture
The US Green Building Council has recognized the Missouri Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology (MARET) Center at Crowder College as a LEED Platinum facility. The building, which itself acts as a hands-on training tool for student learning, is one of very few LEED Platinum buildings that produces more energy than it consumes, making it “net-positive.”

This efficiency was achieved through significant modeling, planning and research by KRJ Planning & Research, who utilized renewable energy sources (solar heat, wind, biomass, solar electric), together with an exceptionally well-planned and constructed building envelope with an internal energy distribution system. Daylighting is utilized throughout the entire facility, keeping use of electric lighting to a minimum. Solar cells on the roof produce energy, as does a wind turbine on the site. HVAC is provided through geothermal means, in addition to hydronic heating and cooling that utilizes roof-mounted solar collectors. The building is cooled by groundwater alone. Even rainwater from the roof is collected and reused for plantings surrounding the facility.

The building is utilized by the college as a teaching facility to demonstrate how energy can be collected, stored and distributed, so accessibility to the facility’s mechanical systems was paramount for educational purposes. Likewise, the facility was organized to allow ease of building system modifications, allowing students to run energy use experiments. Finally, the facility was built with modular construction, allowing students and building prefabricators to participate and learn with these systems. Overall, the entire facility is an incubator for student and industry learning.

Of key interest to instructors and students alike, is how a facility in the Midwest, with high temperature extremes and high humidity levels, can be so comfortable and energy efficient year-round. Students involved in STEM projects, those interested in renewable energy businesses, and those seeking training and certification in alternative energy processes are all drawn to the facility.

“When we conceived of the idea to build a facility that would itself be used in teaching energy efficiency, we knew we needed to work with an architectural planning group that went well beyond the norm,” said Dr. Kent Farnsworth, former President of Crowder College. “We had worked with KRJ Architects in the past, and they had recently formed an innovative planning group to allow the types of in-depth planning and research that we required for this project.”

The 10,000-square-foot building was conceived in 2003, built in 2011-2012, and has been utilized as a teaching facility by Crowder College for several years. The facility itself has been tested, improved and modified, allowing students to take full advantage of cutting edge technology. Awarding of the LEED Platinum certification came in 2018, after the college renewed their interest in securing the USGBC certification.

David Kromm of KRJ Planning & Research stated, “we were thrilled to be selected to plan and develop this outstanding facility for Crowder College, and are honored that our work is being used as a teaching model for tomorrow’s leaders. The MARET Center is a great example of how innovation can lead to an efficient, functional, delightful and culturally meaningful facility.”

In addition to being used as a teaching facility, the MARET Center also houses a small business incubator.