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Concrete, Steel, or Wood: Searching for Zero-Net-Carbon Structural Materials

By Gideon Fink Shapiro
The Journal of the American Institute of Architects
January 15, 2020
Category: Wood, Paper & Green Building
Region: United States

To promote his designs for lightweight structures, Buckminster Fuller famously asked, “How much does your building weigh?” Today, as architects realize that both structural efficiency and carbon efficiency are necessary, the question has become, “How much carbon does your building embody?” Many architects are pushing for the reduction or elimination of embodied carbon emissions, as is already happening with operational energy. …Indeed, the building structure and sub-structure are good places to hunt because, together, they constitute more than half of a commercial building’s embodied carbon footprint. …Architecture 2030’s Carbon Smart Materials Palette and the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator, or EC3, a tool developed by the Carbon Leadership Forum, C Change Labs, and Skanska, are great places to investigate the impact of material selection for both retrofit and new construction projects.

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