High Fiber Diets Are Good for Buildings, Too

This is a series where I take my lectures presented as adjunct professor teaching sustainable design at Ryerson University School of Interior Design in Toronto, and distill them down to a sort of Pecha Kucha slide show of 20 slides that take about 20 seconds each to read. This was also presented recently at the Interior Design Show in Toronto.

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A high fiber diet is good for buildings, too.

credit: high fiber diet

来自的新报告World Health Organization findsthat "eating more fibre, found in wholegrain cereals, pasta and bread as well as nuts and pulses, will cut people’s chances of heart disease and early death." But it isn't just people; new research is also finding that high fibre buildings are good for our planet's health, because they significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is a byproduct of our current construction methods and materials.

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信用:Waugh Thistleton建筑师/照片丹尼尔剪

IPCC最近报告说we have to cut our carbon output in half within a dozen years如果我们希望在1.5°C下保持温暖的可能性。最近的一项研究得出结论,这不够好;利兹大学的克里斯托弗史密斯说,真的,我们必须立即停止发出二氧化碳。A professor reviewing the study tells the Guardian:

“Whether it’s drilling a new gas well, keeping an old coal power station open, or even buying a diesel car, the choices we make today will largely determine the climate pathways of tomorrow. The message of this new study is loud and clear: act now or see the last chance for a safer climate future ebb away.”

It also means that we have to stop building with anything but natural materials pretty much immediately.

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Where is the carbon coming from?

World Resources Institute" data-caption="" data-expand="300" id="mntl-sc-block-image_2-0-9" data-tracking-container="true">

As this chart shows, about a quarter of our CO2 emissions come from transportation, mostly cars and trucks on roads. About a quarter comes from heating, lighting and cooling buildings. And about a quarter comes from industry, from making stuff like steel, aluminum, concrete and plastics, most of which goes into building cars and buildings.



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Embodied energy matters more than ever.

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credit:John Ochsendorf/MIT


在所有三种操作场景中,John Ochsendorf图表的问题是他将所体现的能量显示为相同的能量。

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Embodied carbon in structural materials

credit: Embodied Carbon

In fact, the embodied carbon and energy can vary all over the place, depending on what material you build with. Wood is very low; virgin aluminum is ridiculously high, which is why it is nicknamed "solid electricity."

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Embodied Carbon in Insulation

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credit:Nataliya Lushnikova


In fact, one study (which I am waiting for permission to reproduce here) has shown that, in a lifetime analysis,a highly efficient building insulated with plastic foam creates more Carbon Dioxide than a building that just meets the building code.The embodied carbon is far higher than the operating carbon right out to 2050.

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Building Green can make it worse.

credit: Nudura


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credit: Union of Concerned Scientists

As an aside, because this discussion is about buildings, electric cars have a significant embodied energy. As in buildings, nobody thought much about it because compared to gasoline cars the total energy consumed is significantly less, particularly with a clean power grid. But an electric car has a higher embodied carbon than a gasoline car, and still has a big footprint because of it.


This is the main reason we are so big on bikes.

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Embodied carbon in Aluminum

credit: Norsk Hydro

那么我们可以与我们建立什么?很多人认为铝是可以的,因为它的许多是回收的,而原子铝主要由水电电力制成。但没有足够的回收铝,所以我们继续制作新的东西。在它甚至达到电动冶炼厂之前发生了很多脏和碳密集型的东西,并且通过氧化铝(氧化铝)用氧化铝(氧化铝)用电氧气带来的化学反应并与碳阳极反应,使,制造猜猜了,carbon dioxide.


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Embodied carbon in steel

credit: Zephylewer on Pixabay


It is in the chemistry: carbon dioxide is a byproduct of making steel.

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credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Then of course, there is cement, which is made by heating limestone to 1450 °C, which frees carbon dioxide from the calcium carbonate to make calcium oxide, which is mixed with gypsum to make portland cement. There is the energy to heat it and the CO2 released.

It is in the chemistry: carbon dioxide is a byproduct of making cement.

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credit: Province of British Columbia/ forests dying from pine beetle

Then there is wood. It is the only building material where the carbon is not emitted during its manufacture, but is absorbed. It takes carbon out of the air and hydrogen out of the water to make a hydrocarbon building material.As the Cryptonaturalist described it:

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credit: Comparison of construction

In fact, by whatever criterion you choose, wood construction has a lower footprint than steel or concrete. Every time you build out of wood, you are storing carbon; every time you build out of steel or concrete, you are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Every time you demolish a building and replace it with a new building, unless that new building is carbon negative, you are adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

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Ban demolition

credit: Union Carbide Building/ ESTO

这就是为什么demolition of perfectly good buildings like 270 Park Avenuein New York should be stopped; replacing its 2,400,352 square feet would generate about 192 million kilograms of carbon dioxide just replacing the steel and concrete of the existing floor area. It is a carbon crime.

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High fiber insulations

信用:Modcel Panel

This is why we have to look at alternative insulation materials with low embodied carbon, like straw, cork and cellulose and have to forget about foamed fossil fuels. As Bruce King notes in his bookThe New Carbon Architecture, it is the only way that buildings can help, rather than hurt.

We can structure any architectural style with wood, we can insulate with straw and mushrooms... All of these emerging technologies and more arrive in tandem with the growing understanding that the so-called embodied carbon of building materials matters a great deal more than anyone thought in the fight to halt and reverse climate change. The built environment can switch from being a problem to a solution.
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Learn from Norway

credit: Powerhouse Korbo/ Snohetta

This is why we have to build like Snøhetta did withPowerhouse Kjørbo与他们的另一个,较新的强者建筑:首先,你翻新而不是建立新的,就像他们用这个那样做的那样。它与新建筑更难,但他们已经设法设计了房屋,学校和办公楼,不仅可以产生更多的能量,而不是他们运作的能量,但“产生比用于生产建筑材料的生产更多的能量,它建设,运营和处置。“被动馆为WIMPS;the Powerhouse standard疯狂是困难的。这些挪威人用dark. See also:

Svart, a gorgeous hotel by Snøhetta, will meet the world's toughest energy standard

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Architype Architects/ My favourite low-carbon building" data-caption="" data-expand="300" id="mntl-sc-block-image_2-0-63" data-tracking-container="true">
credit:Architype Architects/ My favourite low-carbon building

This is why every architect should be studying theEast Anglia大学的企业中心使用新的木技术的内部, along with a combination of traditional technologies like thatch and reeds. It is built to Passive House energy efficiencies out of natural materials.

Gareth Selby, an associate at Architype and passive house designer on the project, says: "Life cycle carbon was one way to sum up the operational carbon and the embodied carbon. Everything was assessed with that attitude rather than just looking at how good is it for passive house. It was bringing the two together."

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An edible palette of materials

credit: Architype

几年前,我写道我们应该开始考虑建筑物,就像我们对食物做的那样 - 使用天然健康的材料。我甚至没有考虑体现的碳。

"I think we have to learn from what has happened in the food movement. That's the way people are going; they want natural, they want local, they want healthy and they reject manufactured chemical products. Twenty years ago every food manufacturer talked about the benefits of technology: Transfats make food cheaper and better, high fructose corn syrup has all kinds of advantages. Now even the biggest companies run from these, the vinyls of the food industry.

We are never going to get rid of all these chemicals and plastics from green buildings, any more than we are going to get rid of all additives from food. Some have very useful functions and some, like vitamins in our diet or plastic sheathing on electric wiring, are even good for us. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to minimize their use and, where there are healthy alternatives, choose them instead. I suspect that pretty soon that is what your clients will be demanding."

Now, more than ever, we have to think that way. We just have to stop using materials that are made with or from fossil fuels and that add carbon to the atmosphere. We have to subtract it. We have to do a life-cycle analysis to ensure that our choices help the planet, not hurt it.

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信用:Dirk Lindner

We can still build big beautiful buildings, offices and apartments. We just don't need to build them forty stories high, but we do need to build them to be carbon positive. And we have to start right now.