Is there a way to break through knowledge barriers and foster climate change collaboration within and without CBE? Professor Kate Simonen and other faculty think they’ve found it: CBE’s new Climate Solutions Community of Practice (CoP), a group dedicated to generating climate solutions across disciplinary frameworks that encourages student, staff, and faculty participation.
The College of Built Environments at the University of Washington has big dreams. Faculty, staff, and students are tackling issues of social and environmental justice and climate change. They’re seeking out innovations in sustainability, breaking out of disciplinary silos, and forging new collaborations
Among the awarded projects was “Incorporating Youth Perspectives to Improve Disaster Planning: Piloting Drone-Based Photovoice to Explore Cultural Assets” whose investigators include UDP Associate Professor Daniel Abramson and UDP Masters’ student Matias Korfmacher, in collaboration with researchers from DEOHS.
In pursuit of our vision for a more just and beautiful world, the College of Built Environments continues to implement an important part of our strategic framework: growing our capacity for collaborative interdisciplinary work with the goal of advancing climate solutions.
Concrete can sequester carbon, and the cement that glues its components together has been used since antiquity. Now, CBE professor Fred Aguayo is introducing students to the complex world of concrete research.
Urban@UW is excited to announce the project teams selected for the inaugural cohort of the Research to Action Collaboratory (RAC). Throughout the next 18 months, Urban@UW will work with these teams and provide seed funds, dedicated time to build team cohesion and collaboration skills, and foster opportunities for peer support and shared resources and learning.
An interdisciplinary research team, including University of Washington Associate Professor of Architecture Gundula Proksch, received $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) program. The funding will be used to combine engineered microorganisms with 3D printing to create materials for sustainable built environments.
Catherine De Almeida, assistant professor of landscape architecture, is part of the interdisciplinary UW team working on a community-based project researching ways to preserve water, soil and sediment along the Duwamish River, famously polluted by decades of industrial contamination. | Fox 13 News
The Green Futures Lab strives to create habitat and cleaner waterways through the use of floating wetlands. Check out this great video from King County summarizing our Duwamish floating wetland project. | King County TV
The Research to Action Collaboratory (RAC), seeded by a catalytic $500,000 grant from the Bullitt Foundation, will bring together teams of UW scholars and community partners and support them with seed funds, intensive workshops to build team cohesion and collaboration skills, and peer support through the project cycles.
The recently published second edition of “Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Well-being, Equity, and Sustainability” explores how the design of houses, schools, workplaces, streets, parks, transportation systems, and urban form, affect our health and well-being.
Architecture 508 Graduate Research Studio students talked about their ideas and solutions to add more housing in Seattle — a well-timed discussion as Seattle is updating its comprehensive plan. | KUOW
In January 2021, the College of Built Environments launched its new Inspire Fund to “inspire” CBE research activities that are often underfunded, but for which a relatively small amount of support can be transformative. The fund aims to support research where arts and humanities disciplines are centered, and community partners are engaged in substantive ways.
Justin Roberts, MLA ’22, describes his journey abroad exploring the powerful potential of using biochar in landscape design.
A global study led by Professor Marina Alberti investigating the impact urbanization has had on white clover shows that the plant is adapting to survive alongside us in Puget Sound. | Crosscut
Concrete creates huge carbon emissions. Why can’t data center builders turn that around, and use biological material that stores carbon instead? The Carbon Leadership Forum at the College of Built Environments research is quoted. | Data Center Dynamics
Upstream, a winner of Metropolis’ inaugural Responsible Disruptors competition, is an open-source calculator that designers with a comprehensive view of the carbon impacts of their wood-based materials choices. Upstream was created in partnership with the College of Built Environments Applied Research Consortium and led by CBE student, Chuou Zhang. | Metropolis
Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture Catherine De Almeida remembers picking up trash on the playground, seeing people throw trash out their car window, and noticing trash flying around while she played outside as a child. The presence of litter in landscapes upset her so much that she would spend her elementary school recesses picking up trash.
Kate Simonen, chair of the Department of Architecture, joined Design the Future Podcast to talk decarbonization and scaling impact.
As the world builds the equivalent of an entire New York City every month, reducing the carbon emissions of materials is an imperative.
The Carbon Leadership Forum, in partnership with a coalition of more than 30 forward looking and innovative building industry leaders announce that they have taken on a long-elusive goal – measuring and reducing the carbon footprint of building materials. The result is the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”) tool, an open source tool for architects, engineers, owners, construction companies, building material suppliers and policy makers to compare and reduce embodied carbon emissions from construction materials.
Between now and 2060 the world’s population will be doubling the amount of building floorspace, equivalent to building an entire New York City every month for 40 years. Most of the carbon footprint of these new buildings will take the form of embodied carbon — the emissions associated with building material manufacturing and construction. As a result, owners, designers, engineers and contractors are turning their attention to building materials and seeking information on these products so they can make informed, smart choices. This task has been fraught with problems – from the lack of data to data too complex to evaluate.
In response to this problem, Skanska USA and C Change Labs conceived of a solution that would enable the building industry to easily access and view material carbon emissions data, allowing them to make carbon smart choices during material specification and procurement. Initial development was jointly funded by Skanska and Microsoft, who determined that an open platform would provide maximum impact for the industry and society at large. To accelerate development of this solution, the Carbon Leadership Forum incubated the project with strong leadership and additional financial support from Autodesk, Interface, the MKA Foundation and the Charles Pankow Foundation, lead sponsor and grant manager. Subsequently, more than 30 other industry-leaders joined in.
“Our mission is to accelerate the transformation of the building sector to radically reduce embodied carbon,” said Kate Simonen, director of the Carbon Leadership Forum and professor in the College of the Built Environments at the University of Washington. “The EC3 tool is a great example of what can happen when our passionate and collaborative network comes together around a need.”
Industry sponsors include: Grant Administrator: Charles Pankow Foundation; Pilot Partners: Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Microsoft Corporation,
Perkins and Will, Port of Seattle, Skanska USA, Walter P Moore and Associates, Inc., and Webcor; Association Partners: American Concrete Institute (ACI) Foundation, American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and the BlueGreen Alliance; and Material Partners: Armstrong Ceiling and Wall Solutions, BASF Corporation, CarbonCure Technologies, Interface, Inc., Kingspan Group, and USG Corporation.
Additional support is provided by Technology Partners including Autodesk, Climate Earth, Sustainable Minds and Tally; EC3 Tool Methodology Partners: Arup, Brightworks Sustainability, Central Concrete Supply Co., Inc., Climate Earth, Katerra, KieranTimberlake, LeMessurierr, LMN Architects, National Ready Mixed Concrete Co., Owens Corning, Thornton Tomasetti, Urban Fabrick, WAP Sustainability and WRNS Studio. View the full list of collaborators at www.carbonleadershipforum.org.
The EC3 Tool: A Closer Look
Increasingly the building industry and owners are becoming aware that materials matter and are seeking ways to evaluate the emissions associated with making these materials, but they have not had a reliable or efficient way to compare them. As a result, while awareness and a desire to enact change have been high, few have found an avenue to effectively examine and evaluate the available material choices. The EC3 tool, an open-source tool, simplifies this complex problem and will allow users to easily see the embodied carbon impacts of the materials before consumption. Now users will have the information they need to make more informed decisions on embodied carbon, allowing them to enact positive change. Details on the EC3 tool will be made available November 2019. Collaborating partners will be demonstrating the product at Greenbuild, November 19-22, 2019 at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA.
For more information on the Carbon Leadership Forum and the EC3 tool, including links to our partners’ announcements visit www.carbonleadershipforum.org
Visit www.buildingtransparency.org and register to have access to the EC3 tool. The tool will be released November 19, 2019.
List of all collaborators, including spokespersons, media contacts and quotes, available upon request.
Additional embodied carbon resources:
- Watch short video: Bill Gates on manufacturing emissions
- View World Green Building Council report ‘Bringing Embodied Carbon Upfront’ released September 23, 2019
About the Carbon Leadership Forum
The Carbon Leadership Forum, built on a collective impact model, has amassed the largest network of architects, engineers, contractors, material suppliers, policy makers and academics to reduce the carbon impact of materials in buildings. Together, we have developed an extensive body of research and resources necessary to inform and empower our members, while building a robust collaborative network – the Embodied Carbon Network – that is inspiring and connecting our members to enact change. This has resulted in member-led initiatives, including the recent structural engineers embodied carbon challenge (SE 2050) and the development of the EC3 Tool. For more information visit: www.carbonleadershipforum.org.
Director, Carbon Leadership Forum
Media Contact, Carbon Leadership Forum
Download the PDF
Press Release announcing EC3 tool – Sept. 23, 2019.pdf