Mayor, USDA Under Secretary Help Launch Baltimore Carbon Challenge
Architecture contest challenges designers to consider the environmental impact of building materials.
The U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory, 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.
“APA has a long record of working closely with the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Forest Service has a long record of working closely with the City of Baltimore. It just makes sense that the next Carbon Challenge would take place here in Baltimore,” said Bob Clark, an APA senior engineered wood specialist.
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. Use of wood, affordability, and curb appeal also will factor into design criteria.
In Baltimore, the Carbon Challenge is part of a larger initiative by the Forest Service—the Baltimore Wood Project—designed to rethink the value of urban wood, encourage the use of sustainably harvested wood, and advance untapped markets for reclaimed and recycled wood products to create jobs, improve lives, and generate wealth in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. “The Forest Service has spent two decades in Baltimore, working with the City and a whole host of partners to understand the city as an ecological system--to not only improve the quality of the urban environment but just as importantly, people’s lives,” said Jim Reaves, deputy chief of research and development for the U.S. Forest Service.
“The Carbon Challenge is part of the Forest Service’s ongoing effort to help the City of Baltimore rebuild, restore, and revitalize its distressed neighborhoods using wood – an abundant, renewable resource,” said Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We’re working with Baltimore and a number of local partners to showcase ways in which the city and its residents can use undervalued wood resources in building construction and in green infrastructure for stormwater management.”
The vacant lot is across the street from one of the city’s “Power in Dirt” sites, a once-vacant, trash-riddled lot now home to a park, green space, and farmer’s market. “It’s appropriate that we are standing here today, announcing a competition to design an energy efficient, environmentally friendly, low-carbon row home,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “The Oliver Community has seen a number of challenges over the years, but with renewed leadership, and dedicated investment in the community by organizations such as Come Home Baltimore, and the 6th branch, Oliver is making strides.”
Following the press conference, 50 local architects and builders celebrated the start of the Carbon Challenge with a party at the historic headquarters of Humanim, a local nonprofit providing human services and workforce development. (Pictured above: Robert Clark discusses the competition design requirements with potential entrants at the Carbon Challenge Kick-Off Party at Humanim at the American Brewery in Baltimore.)
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.
For more information on the Carbon Challenge and to enter, visit www.apawood.org/CarbonChallenge.
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