Where individual product design has made some nice strides, the circular economy’s influence upon architectural design is just beginning.
The built environment contributes 40% to the world’s Carbon Footprint. That is more than transportation and more than the world’s total industrial impact.
The “built environment” refers specifically to the construction and demolition industries as well as building operations and maintenance. While great improvements have been made in limiting the carbon used to run buildings, called operational carbon, the design and construction world is starting to consider how to impact embodied carbon, the carbon it takes to make the stuff and structures we create.
There are several strategies in architecture to reduce the built environment’s carbon footprint, many targeted at embodied carbon.
Deconstruction vs Demolition
Deconstruction and reclamation is an alternative to traditional demolition. Workers dismantle all or part of buildings with an eye for preserving historic and/or materials with integrity for reintegration in the current project or to inventory for future reuse. If there is adequate lead time, deconstruction teams can recycle and repurpose up to 90% of the entire structure.
Design for Disassembly
Design for disassembly is a fundamental principle that informs decisions and material choices, changing how materials are joined together and how they are layered in a way that is accessible, reversible, and robust. In architecture, it is the design of buildings to facilitate future changes and dismantlement (in part or whole) for recovery of systems, components and materials, thus ensuring the building can be recycled as efficiently as possible at the end of its lifespan. Visit https://www.archdaily.com/943366/a-guide-to-design-for-disassembly to learn more.
Mass Timber Construction
Mass timber construction replaces structural steel and concrete with structural wood products. The production of one ton of concrete emits nearly one ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while sustainable wood production actually sequesters carbon.
Further sustainable design trends in architecture include:
- Recyclable plastics – light weight, long lasting, and sanitary
- Interiors in wood
- Visibility of connections