Wood buildings should be a requirement of any climate change policy

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A new meta-study offers the strongest evidence yet that timber buildings can drastically reduce carbon emissions in the construction industry. It’s not as visibly bad as the belching smokestacks of the coal industry or the gas-chugging backups on suburban highways, but the building industry is a major contributor to climate change. From their materials to their construction to their energy needs over time, buildings generate nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions . Of that, around a quarter is embodied carbon, or the sum of emissions that resulted in the production, transportation, and use of building materials. What a building is made of can have a huge climate impact. Read Full Story

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Microsoft and Skanska are using this free tool to dramatically cut their carbon

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Developed in-house at Skanska, the tool can be used to calculate the embodied carbon of key materials that account for upward of 70% of a building’s global carbon emissions. The environmental impact of buildings is huge . Buildings and the production of the materials that are used to construct them account for 11% of global carbon emissions . These emissions, known as embodied carbon, are in every steel beam, concrete foundation, and two-by-four used in construction, and they’ve taken their environmental toll long before anyone sets foot inside the completed structure. Embodied carbon represents the biggest contribution to a building’s carbon footprint over its life span and the next big environmental challenge for the building industry . Read Full Story

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The case for cookie-cutter buildings

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A new system helps architects design buildings with factory-produced parts—making them cheaper and more environmentally sustainable. The way buildings get built is wreaking havoc on the climate. Building materials and construction account for 11% of global carbon dioxide emissions , and that doesn’t include the amount of energy they use once they’re built and occupied. Read Full Story

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How AI can fight the climate problem hiding inside buildings

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A new startup called Carbon Lighthouse is using hundreds of sensors combined with AI to dramatically lower carbon emissions. There’s a climate culprit hiding inside the bowels of nearly every building in the country. Almost 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions comes from the construction and operation of buildings, and those operations are surprisingly inefficient. From HVAC systems to water chillers to air compressors, the little-seen systems that control things such as lighting and temperature often use far more energy than they need. Read Full Story

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These three timber buildings could represent the future of green architecture

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Timber buildings are popping up around the world. Are they the solution to construction’s carbon problem? Construction materials alone, including carbon and steel, contribute 11% of global carbon emissions (by comparison, air travel contributes about 2.5%). That’s why architects and development companies around the world are opting for a novel but not-so-new solution: wood. A study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in Germany, found that with proper forest management, a global boom in wood buildings could sequester up to 700 million tons of carbon a year (wood naturally stores carbon, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere). The idea is catching on: Google’s Sidewalk Labs has proposed a 12-acre timber neighborhood in Toronto, while in February, France mandated that all public buildings after 2022 be constructed of at least 50% wood or other organic materials. The University of Arkansas completed the largest timber building in the …

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Energy efficiency is no longer enough. This is the next big challenge for green building

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Limiting energy consumption is critical for reducing the environmental impact of the building and construction industry—but it’s only a start. For many years, the idea of a green building was one that used less energy. Now, as once-fringe elements such as solar panels and double-paned windows have become commonplace and the climate crisis has become widely acknowledged, energy-efficient buildings with low or no carbon emissions are becoming the rule, not the exception. Read Full Story

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This biotech startup is making palm oil-substitutes and omega-3s from carbon emissions

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Both ingredients are usually produced in ways that are deeply damaging to the planet. Now they can be made while lowering our global footprint. Instead of having more carbon go into the atmosphere, making our planet warmer and speeding up the effects of climate change, you might soon be able to eat those emissions. Biotech company LanzaTech has successfully turned CO2 emissions into lipids and omega-3 fatty acids as part of a pilot program in partnership with India’s Department of Biotechnology and oil and gas company IndianOil. Read Full Story

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This factory is growing a new kind of food for cows: a seaweed that reduces their burps

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Cow burps release so much methane that they’re responsible for roughly 5% of global carbon emissions. Changing what we feed them can help. In a new factory on the Swedish coast, a startup called Volta Greentech will soon begin commercial production of Asparagopsis taxiformis , a type of red seaweed that’s never been grown before on land. The seaweed is being farmed because it has a unique ability to fight climate change: When it’s added to cattle feed, the cows that eat it burp less methane, a potent greenhouse gas that’s a major contributor to global emissions. Read Full Story

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Two of architecture’s biggest names just pulled out of an ambitious climate pledge

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The high-profile exit of Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects from the pledge, called Architects Declare, exposes deep rifts in an industry that’s grappling with how to control its carbon footprint. In as many days, two of the world’s most well-known architecture firms have shocked the field and removed their names from a pledge aiming to reduce architecture’s contribution to climate change and biodiversity loss. First Foster + Partners and then a day later Zaha Hadid Architects withdrew from Architects Declare , a pledge launched by architects in the U.K. in 2019 that commits to reducing the architecture and construction industry’s nearly 40% contribution to global carbon emissions. Read Full Story

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This ‘climate-friendly’ snack brand wants to change how we eat

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Made from regeneratively grown wheat and sunflower oil, these crackers have negative emissions. The packaging for a new snack brand called Moonshot doesn’t emphasize the fact that it’s organic. Instead, in large type on the front of the box, it says it’s “climate-friendly.” The ingredients are grown regeneratively, using techniques that can capture and store more carbon in the soil. The shipping is carbon neutral. Any emissions from the product that can’t be reduced have been offset. Read Full Story

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