Carbon Challenge Design Competition Promotes Housing Sustainability
Architecture contest challenges designers to consider the environmental impact of building materials.
The Carbon Challenge, a home-design competition challenging architects to rethink their perceptions of how construction materials impact the environment and promoting the use of wood as a component to sustainable design, kicks off Jan. 15 in Baltimore and Jan. 17 in Providence, R.I.
Cash prizes totaling $20,000 will be awarded for designs based on their life-cycle assessment score and for designs demonstrating the best curb appeal, the most affordability and the best use of wood.
As a joint campaign of the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory and APA-The Engineered Wood Association, the Carbon Challenge will educate home designers, builders and communities about how sustainable design strategies can address the long-term environmental impact of a building and disaster resilience.
"Wood should be a major component of American building and energy design,” said USDA Under Secretary Harris Sherman, who oversees the Forest Service. “The use of wood products continues to benefit the environment by storing carbon long after a building has been constructed, and helps sustain a critical source of jobs in rural America. This project could be a blueprint for developing communities in cities across America.”
The USDA announced a new emphasis on the use of green building materials in March 2011, requiring all new USDA buildings to use wood in their construction and promoting new research into the use of wood as an environmentally friendly building material. Forest Service studies show that using wood products for building materials, instead of fossil-fuel intensive alternatives, results in a smaller carbon footprint.
“When the industry and the public think about the environmental footprint of a home, it’s often the energy use that’s considered. But that discounts the amount of CO2 emitted to create the structure’s materials—called embodied carbon,” says Bob Clark, Senior Engineered Wood Specialist for APA. “By specifying products—such as wood—that emit less carbon during manufacture and even store carbon within them, designers can make homes much more sustainable.”
In Baltimore, competition participants will design an iconic urban row house to help the city restore distressed neighborhoods and implement its sustainability plan. In Providence, entrants will develop a new Habitat for Humanity home design. Using life-cycle assessment software from the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, designers will be able to determine the impact of the greenhouse gas emissions from the products in their design.
Following the competition, FPL and APA will host a series of educational seminars in the greater Baltimore and Providence areas to continue educating designers on the principles of low-carbon, low-energy design.
The Carbon Challenge Baltimore Design Competition is held in partnership with the City of Baltimore and AIA Baltimore, and is supported by sponsors LP Building Products, Boise Cascade and Roseburg Forest Products.
The Carbon Challenge Providence Design Competition is held in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island—Greater Providence and AIA Rhode Island, and is supported by sponsors LP Building Products and Boise Cascade.
For more information on the Carbon Challenge and to enter, visit www.apawood.org/CarbonChallenge.
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