US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory

APA - The Engineered Wood Association

APA Carbon Challenge Residential Design Competition

In the Carbon Challenge Residential Design Competition, the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) and APA – The Engineered Wood Association (APA) are challenging residential designers to create a new home design while considering the impact that building materials have on the environment.

Fossil fuel use and climate change are important environmental issues facing our nation today. The common denominator for these concerns is greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere when fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, are burned for energy or when organic materials decay. While most people are aware that North American forests help to address climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, less well known is the fact that wood products continue to store carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere indefinitely. Substituting wood products for fossil fuel-intensive alternatives also results in significant amounts of “avoided” greenhouse gas emissions.

Through a series of local design competitions and educational seminars, FPL and APA are encouraging designers and builders to meet this environmental challenge by rethinking their perceptions of construction materials and by designing and constructing homes with lower carbon footprints. As part of the Carbon Challenge, designers will be introduced to cutting edge life-cycle assessment tools that can be used not only for the design competition, but also to help make intelligent, environmentally-conscious and sustainable choices in their future building enclosure designs.

To learn more about our current programs in Baltimore and Providence, or our recently completed program in Florida, use the menu at left to navigate this website. In addition, you can read the Carbon Challenge press release, or contact us for additional information.


Carbon Challenge News & Updates

Free Workshops Offer Strategies for Sustainable, Efficient Framing

September 2013

A four-hour workshop titled Wood Framing for More Sustainable, Efficient Homes has been scheduled in multiple cities this October. The program will be devoted to educating architects, engineers, builders, and code officials about the sustainable benefits of wood construction and advanced framing techniques. The sessions will draw upon examples and best practices from this year’s Baltimore and Providence Design Competitions. Participants will learn:

  • 2013 Baltimore Carbon Challenge Residential Design Competition - 2nd PlaceHow to use wood framing to reduce a building’s carbon footprint.
  • How to incorporate advanced framing techniques to optimize material efficiency, increase whole-wall R-values, and reduce thermal bridging.
  • How to implement efficiency-boosting details such as energy-efficient corners, tees, headers, and more.
  • How the Carbon Challenge winners in Baltimore and Providence accomplished design, affordability, and sustainability while transforming a vacant space.
  • How manufacturers are improving framing through product technologies.

The workshops are free with advanced registration, and breakfast and light refreshments will be provided. Attendees can earn three AIA Credits (HSW) or four Professional Development Hours / CEUs. Currently scheduled workshops include:

Baltimore, MD
October 10, 2013, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Four Points by Sheraton BWI Airport

Providence, RI
October 22, 2013, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Providence Biltmore Hotel

Cambridge, MA
October 24, 2013, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Courtyard Boston Cambridge

Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. To RSVP, or for more information, contact Nicole Mast at 504-309-8965 or nmast@arbmeetings.com.


Winners Announced in Baltimore & Providence

March 2013

Baltimore Carbon Challenge Awards Ceremony, March 28 at Humanim at the American Brewery in Baltimore, MD.

During awards ceremonies on March 26 in Providence, RI, and March 28, in Baltimore, MD (pictured above), several local architects were recognized as winners in the 2012 Carbon Challenge Residential Design Competition, a home-design competition that challenged participants to consider the environmental impact of building materials. The competition focused on two types of homes—a Habitat for Humanity house in PProvidence Carbon Challenge Design Competition Grand Prize Winnerrovidence, R.I., and an urban row house in Baltimore. Using life-cycle assessment software from the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, designers were able to determine the impact of the greenhouse gas emissions from the products in their designs. Along with each entry’s carbon footprint, the judges considered its use of wood, its cost-effectiveness, and its aesthetic.

In Providence, the Grand Prize was awarded to ZeroEnergy Design (design pictured above). In Baltimore, Phillip Jones of Cho Benn Holback + Associates took top honors (design pictured below). Cash prizes totaling $20,000 were awarded to all of the winners across multiple categories.

“We Baltimore Carbon Challenge Design Competition Grand Prize Winnerwere extremely impressed by the entries to the Carbon Challenge Design Competition; the designers took innovative approaches to reducing the home’s carbon footprint while achieving both aesthetic appeal and optimal building performance,” said Bob Clark, senior engineered wood specialist for APA. “The entries clearly reflect the excitement of their designers for creating sustainable building solutions. These designs will improve not only the livability of homes, but also of the surrounding community.”


Baltimore & Providence Winners To Be Announced in March

March 2013

The Baltimore and Providence Carbon Challenge Design Competitions' winning designs will be revealed later this month at regional awards ceremonies. $20,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the twelve winning designers, six in each city. 

The Providence Design Competition Awards Ceremony will take place on March 26, 2013 from 6-8 p.m. at the Biltmore Hotel, Garden Room (2nd Floor) at 11 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI 02903. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required: contact Nicole Mast at 504-309-8965 or nmast@arbmeetings.com. Learn more about the Providence Awards Ceremony.  

The Baltimore Design Competition Awards Ceremony will take place on March 28, 2013 from 4-6 p.m. at Humanim at the American Brewery (2nd Floor Events Room) at 1701 N. Gay Street, Baltimore, MD 21213. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required: contact Anne Michaels at 504-309-8965 or amichaels@arbmeetings.com. Learn more about the Baltimore Awards Ceremony.


US Building Digest Interviews APA's Bob Clark

February 2013

US Building Digest Interviews APA's Bob ClarkAt the 2013 National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas last month, US Building Digest interviewed APA Senior Engineered Wood Specialist Bob Clark about the Carbon Challenge Residential Design Competition. “What makes this so unique from other competitions is the major design criteria is the environmental impact of the structure,” says Clark. “The goal of the Carbon Challenge is to make people aware of the environmental impact of building materials." View the full interview at www.usbuildingdigest.com.

Carbon Challenge Registration Is Now Closed

February 2013

Registration for the Carbon Challenge Design Competitions in Baltimore and Providence, R.I. is now closed. Entry submittals are due no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on March 4, 2013. For more information:

Please visit this website again soon for additional announcements about upcoming Carbon Challenge activities and events.


Carbon Challenge Kicks Off in Baltimore and Providence

January 2013

Ed Wojcik, owner of Ed Wojcik Architect Ltd., discusses the Carbon Challenge at the Providence design site. To the right is the Carbon Challenge Florida Design Competition winner Damon Roby.The U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), APA-The Engineered Wood Association, and the City of Baltimore officially launched the Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition with a January 15 press conference for the local media and neighborhood representatives and a kick-off event for designers and architects. Speakers at the events included Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (Pictured above: Sherman and Rawlings-Blake, along with APA Senior Engineered Wood Specialist Robert Clark, address the media at the Baltimore Carbon Challenge design site.) The Carbon Challenge Design Competition challenges architects to transform a vacant lot in Baltimore’s Oliver neighborhood by designing a series of iconic row houses that consider the environmental footprint of the construction materials. Read more.

Ed Wojcik, owner of Ed Wojcik Architect Ltd., discusses the Carbon Challenge at the Providence design site. To the right is the Carbon Challenge Florida Design Competition winner Damon Roby.In Providence, FPL and APA teamed with Habitat for Humanity Rhode Island—Greater Providence to launch the Carbon Challenge Providence Design Competition with a January 17 kickoff party at the Roots Cultural Center in Providence, Rhode Island. The competition challenges architects to design a Habitat house for a vacant lot in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood while considering the greenhouse gas emissions of the construction materials. (Pictured above: Ed Wojcik, owner of Ed Wojcik Architect Ltd., discusses the Carbon Challenge at the Providence design site. To the right is the Carbon Challenge Florida Design Competition winner Damon Roby.)

APA has a long history of working with Habitat for Humanity International,” said APA senior engineered wood specialist Bob Clark. “We knew that it would make sense to partner with the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate for the next Carbon Challenge. Hence, we are challenging designers to create a Habitat for Humanity house design while being mindful of the impact that building materials have on the environment.” Read more.


Carbon Challenge Design Competition to be Held in Baltimore and Providence

December 2012

The Carbon Challenge Design Competition challenges architects, building designers, and engineers in the Providence and Baltimore metro areas to design a home while considering the greenhouse gas emissions of construction materials. Using life-cycle assessment software from the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, provided free to entrants, participants will be able to explore the environmental footprint of different building material choices and determine the life-cycle assessment score of their design. Cash prizes totaling $20,000 ($10,000 in each city) will be awarded to designs based on the life-cycle assessment score as well as to those demonstrating the best curb appeal, the most affordability, and the best use of wood.

Attend the upcoming Kick-Off Celebration to learn how to enter the competition. This festive, fun event for builders and designers features live music, great food, giveaways, beer and wine. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. Click on an event below to learn more and reserve your space:


Carbon Challenge Partners & Sponsors

December 2012

US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
LP Building Products
Roseburg Forest Products
AIA Baltimore
AIA Rhode Island


Interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact Bob Clark

About the FPL
The US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) was established in 1910 to conduct research and technology transfer to improve the utilization of our forest resource.

About APA
Founded in 1933, APA - The Engineered Wood Association is a nonprofit trade association serving the wood structural panel and engineered wood products industries. Its primary functions include quality auditing and testing, applied research and market development.


About the Carbon Challenge

Through local design competitions and educational seminars, FPL and APA are challenging designers and builders to rethink their perceptions of construction materials and produce homes that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

About FPL
The US Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) was established in 1910 to conduct research and technology transfer to improve the utilization of our forest resource.

About APA
Founded in 1933, APA - The Engineered Wood Association provides quality auditing and testing, applied research, and market development for wood structural panel and engineered wood products.


Partners & Sponsors

US Forest Service, FPL
APA
Boise Cascade LLC
LP Building Products
Roseburg Forest Products
AIA Baltimore
AIA Rhode Island
Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island – Greater Providence, Inc.

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Contact Bob Clark.


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Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Floor Systems

Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Floor Systems, L400

This APA fact sheet summarizes a life-cycle assessment of two alternative floor systems: wood and concrete slab-on-grade. Free download in PDF format.


Advanced Framing Construction Guide


Advanced Framing Construction Guide, Form M400

This free publication from APA details techniques for more efficient, cost-effective framing practices.