The methodology presented in this report is developed to assist refurbishment projects in the early stages to establish a sustainable retrofit strategy. Through an analysis of the energy efficiency, life cycle carbon and cost of various retrofit measures, the method can give guidance on what measures should be pursued in a project and which ones... 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.
Through ongoing conversations with manufacturer’s representatives focused on material health and embodied carbon, it became evident that take-back programs for materials such as carpet and ceiling tile were not apparent to project teams, leading to a gap in the circular economy. This project employed a series of surveys completed by building owners, general contractors, and... Read more »
Project teams want buildings that are healthy for people and the planet. Two sometimes competing criteria to evaluate the sustainability of building products are embodied carbon and material health. For this case study, Perkins&Will partnered with Healthy Building Network to identify key drivers of embodied carbon and material health by looking at specific examples of... Read more »
Lab building embodied carbon is significant, due to intensive structure, finishes, and MEP systems. Recent projects are experimenting with designs uncommon to labs: CLT structure, wood cladding, demountable partitions. But no resource collects these into a common framework for evaluating their carbon benefits. Low Carbon Labs evaluates (3) choices for (14) different building systems within... Read more »
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 »
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 »