footprint assessment

Buildings represent over a third of global anthropogenic greenhouses emissions. Load-bearing elements are the biggest contributor to the embodied carbon of buildings. New pathways for its reduction are to be found in order to avoid extreme climate catastrophes. However, the task of designing building remains very complex and environmental measures often contradict each other. How good is a new design? Is it actually better and more appropriate than previous ones? How can we objectively assess the environmental benefits gained when reusing load-bearing components over multiple life-cycles?

embodied carbon benefits of reusing structural components

Life-Cycle Assessment are rarely performed with the aim of assessing the benefits of reusing structural components over multiple life-cycles. We aim at providing new benchmarks through case studies resulting from simulations or real-life practice.

PLEA 2018 paper

  • Catherine De Wolf
  • Jan Brütting
  • Endrit Hoxha
  • Corentin Fivet

mapping Geneva’s embodied carbon legacy

Decisions on future developments too often result from no to little understanding of the historical development that has led to that current situation. Understanding the past to better shape the future is a known adage that is however harder and harder to apply because of data proliferation. Any synthetic, user-friendly, representation of the past is therefore key to its interpretation. Compared to other productions of the humankind, the built environment has a particular grip on space and time: built artefacts have a long service life and they shape the spatial context of human activities in many ways. As of today, little is available when it comes to assess the embodied carbon related to urban developments. We here apply a new, bottom-up methodology, to assess the embodied carbon over time and space, in the limits of the canton of Geneva. This project is carried within the Habitat Research Center and contributes to the DHLab Time Machine.

  • Corentin Fivet, Catherine De Wolf, François Golay (PIs)
  • Thibaut Menny
  • Federico Broggini
  • Luca Sironi
  • Babak Haftgoli
  • Serena Vanbutsele (University of Geneva)

assessing timber for tall buildings

Tall buildings are an evident solution to fight urban sprawl and hence reduce transportation emissions. In addition, the volume-to-surface ratio lowers the need for heating and thus reduces the use of operational energy. However, the challenge with current tall buildings is their inherent need for more structural materials. Research is needed to achieve structural efficiency in tall buildings by reducing the material quantities and choosing low carbon materials. Major engineering companies have studied the possibility of constructing timber skyscrapers. We here discuss the challenges of assessing the embodied carbon of timber materials and we characterize the specificities of tall timber systems with built case studies

› ICSA 2019 paper

  • Catherine De Wolf
  • Corentin Fivet