The active ingredient in concrete is cement, and concrete’s ubiquitous usage makes cement the most widely used industrial commodity today. The world consumes about half a ton of cement per person per year. But alongside its positive benefits as a construction material, cement also puts a major strain on the environment. Cement production currently accounts for 3% of world energy consumption and roughly 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing emissions from the cement sector is critical to meeting the United Nation’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, but the sector has proven inherently challenging to decarbonize. This challenge is prompting a major drive to develop technological solutions that can address these processing emissions, including significant upticks in both investments and startup activity in low-carbon cement. Continue reading
Tag Archives: green building design
What is a Passive House?
‘Passive House’ is a design standard that achieves thermal comfort with minimal heating and cooling by using insulation, airtightness, appropriate window and door design, ventilation systems with heat recovery, and elimination of thermal bridges. Originally developed in Germany in the 1990s, Passive House principles are now being used throughout the world. Passive House standards are performance-based: they set performance targets to be met but do not dictate specific materials or products. The Passive House Institute administers a certification scheme that allows a building to be called a Certified Passive House once it has met certain performance standards. Continue reading
12 Sustainable Building Materials
A sustainable (a.k.a. eco-friendly) building material is one that minimizes its impact on the environment – whether in its production, use, or disposal – and that can be readily recycled. Building with sustainable materials reduces the amount of carbon involved in the growth, production, and/or manufacturing of the material, thus diminishing the size of the carbon footprint associated with that material. Here we discuss some candidates among the current generation of eco-friendly building materials. Continue reading
Ascent Tower the World’s Tallest Timber Building
CTBUH certifies Ascent as World’s Tallest Mass Timber Building
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has officially declared the recently-opened Ascent tower by Korb + Associates Architects the world’s tallest timber-concrete hybrid building. The 25-story, 86.6-meter (284-foot) structure in Milwaukee takes the distinguished title in two of the mass timber categories: It is both the tallest timber building overall and the tallest concrete-timber hybrid building.
The previous world’s tallest timber building was Mjøstårnet in Brumunddal, Norway, certified by CTBUH in 2019, which stands at roughly 280 feet. Previously holding the record of tallest concrete-timber hybrid building was the approximately 276-foot HoHo building in Vienna, Austria.
The building features 259 luxury apartments, retail space, an elevated pool with operable window walls, and a sky-deck.
In May of 2019, Ascent was named a recipient of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant awarded through the Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Grant program. The federal grant assisted with the testing needed to prove mass timber’s ability to perform as well as traditional building materials like concrete and steel to meet U.S. building codes.
Plans for the project were unveiled in 2018.While the initial design included 21 floors,updates and subsequent approvals brought the total to 25 floors in March of 2020.
The project had been presented at the 2018 international CTBUH conference in Dubai, the 2019 international CTBUH conference in Chicago, and the 2019 International Mass Timber conference in Portland.
The Ascent development was constructed using a digital twin model, allowing for materials, such as beams, columns, and panels, to arrive on site ready to use with holes pre-drilled to within 1/16-inch accuracy. According to CTBUH, it is estimated that using mass timber for the project decreased construction time by approximately 25 percent compared to a conventional, similarly-sized concrete building.
Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw (commonly wheat, rice, rye and oats straw) as structural elements, building insulation, or both. This construction method is commonly used in natural building construction projects. Research has shown that straw-bale construction is a sustainable method of building, from the standpoint of both materials and energy needed for heating and cooling. Advantages of straw-bale construction over conventional building systems include the renewable nature of straw, cost, easy availability, naturally fire-retardant and high insulation value. Continue reading
All You Need to Know About Rainscreens
To lower the risk of wall rot, it’s increasingly seen as sensible to provide a ventilated air gap between the siding material (also known as cladding) and the structural sheathing. As rainscreens become more common, mainstream builders are more often being compelled to ask, “What is a rainscreen? How do I know if I need one?”. This article discusses the most common questions about rainscreen gaps between the siding and sheathing. Continue reading
Solar Glass: Turning Any Window into an Energy Generating Panel
Photo-voltaic modules (otherwise known as solar panels) have been around for a while, allowing us to use sunlight as a source of energy. The issue with solar panels is that they need sufficient space on rooftops or on the ground to produce enough energy for them to be worth it, space that is limited in big cities. In recent years, companies have been working on a solution to this problem: solar glass (often referred to as “solar windows”), which can turn windows into power-generating panels. Continue reading
Building Responses to Heat Events
Climate-Proofing Buildings Against Excessive Heat
There are several options to implement climate-proofing of buildings with respect to excessively high temperatures. Such options relate to building design including the use of IT technologies to optimize thermal comfort and those involving building envelopes, including roof, wall, doors, windows and solar control glazing enhancements. Continue reading
Mass Timber And Taller Wood Construction
What is Mass Timber Construction?
Mass timber construction, in contrast to light-frame wood construction, is built using a category of engineered wood products typically made of large, solid wood panels, columns or beams often manufactured off-site for load-bearing wall, floor, and roof construction. Mass timber is engineered for high strength ratings like concrete and steel but are significantly lighter in weight. Mass timber products are thick, compressed layers of wood, creating strong, structural load-bearing elements that can be constructed into panelized components. They are typically formed through lamination, fasteners, or adhesives. Mass timber can complement light-frame and hybrid options and is an environmentally friendly substitute for carbon intensive materials and building systems. Continue reading
10 Eco-Materials Revolutionizing Home Construction
Homes have always made use of natural materials. But these days you can find many products and techniques incorporating tried and true materials in surprising ways. Many of these techniques were used historically and are making a come back. In fact, the percentage of construction firms expecting to have more than 60% of their projects certified green has grown from 16% in 2016, to 32% in 2018 to upwards of 45% by 2021. With more people building green, more sources are also developing innovative, green materials to take advantage of this growing market opportunity. Continue reading