Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) incites innovation by re-framing our understanding of building materials within the context of their ecological sources and impacts. Of these impacts, embodied carbon is a primary contributor to global warming. Most building materials’ embodied carbon emissions occur before a product leaves its manufacturer’s gate. These emissions can be measured and reduced... Read more »
What kind of impacts do the materials we put into our built environments have on us? Every day, we’re discovering new answers to this question. The fact is, all across their lifecycles, the products used to build, furnish, decorate, and even clean our spaces have ripple effects on our health, wellbeing, and environmental footprint. The more informed we can be about the materials we’re using, the better—and safer—our built environments will be.
So often our imagination is captured by the concept of unseen forces behind the workings of the world. Of course, we often think of the living environment when imagining these forces, but the cycle of decomposition is equally as graceful and important. In this case, the unseen hand behind the entire process is the simple... Read more »
Material health is important for every designer, no matter if we specify construction and building materials, finishes for interiors, or ancillary items like furniture and equipment. Information about products and various types of material properties, including their impacts on health, is becoming more prominent. However, lack of guidelines and potential tools that could help us access this... Read more »
The Precautionary List is a compilation of the most ubiquitous and problematic substances that people encounter every day in the built environment. Hosted on the Transparency website (transparency.perkinswill.com), it allows design professionals to search for key substances and chemicals of concern using filters like project type, product type, and health and environmental impacts. The information... Read more »
Robin Guenther kicks of the Living Product Expo with a compelling talk about the building materials economy and the ease with which it is possible to ignore the cascading negative human and planetary health consequences.
Flame retardants (FRs) are a group of additives that include toxic chemicals shown to be harmful to human and environmental health in many ways. With the enactment of California’s TB117-2013 for furniture fire safety and The Chicago Tribune’s scathing investigative report about FR manufacturers’ misleading marketing efforts, we learned that toxic chemicals are not the... Read more »
Most skyscrapers are behemoths of steel, glass, and reinforced concrete. As part of an ongoing project, researchers at Cambridge University, architects at Perkins+Will, and engineers at Thornton Tomasetti are proposing a timber skyscraper, called the River Beech Tower, in Chicago, Illinois. The team sees the wooden tower concept as an especially sustainable type of architecture since... Read more »
To learn more about how mass-timber construction will scale up, as well as to define what’s currently included in the purview of mass-timber construction for low-, mid- and high-rise projects, Construction Dive spoke with Andrew Tsay Jacobs, director of the Building Technology Lab at Perkins+Will and a member of the International Code Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall... Read more »
From Curbed’s article, “Proposed 80-story wooden skyscraper may be a preview of tall timber future”: “In a city lined with pathbreaking towers and skyscrapers, the River Beech project, if it comes to fruition, may earn its own chapter in the history of Chicago architectural marvels. That’s because this proposed 80-story tower, a joint research project between Cambridge... Read more »
The demand for non-toxic building products is encouraging manufacturers to replace “worst offender” chemicals with safer alternatives. This presents an opportunity for manufacturers to innovate with greener chemistry. Transparency (ingredient disclosure) in the building industry has been growing, pressuring manufacturers to disclose more about the composition of products than ever before. The public’s alarm about... Read more »