Sustainable Building Lab

Buildings can be a part of the solution, instead of the problem! We must accelerate the pace of progress in sustainable building technologies to match the immediate need for lower-impact materials that prioritize healthy indoor air quality and values of sustainability, such as reduced global warming potential and lower toxic footprint.

We created the Sustainable Building Lab project to advance the rate, depth, and breadth of technological advancement within the sustainable building field. In absence of industry- or academic-sponsored research, we will create an informal venue in which to explore different materials, test different systems, and share information and experience amongst like-minded practitioners.

Goals of the Sustainable Building Lab include:

1. Create an environment for low-risk and failure-safe experimentation and play
2. Encourage information sharing and idea generation in an open-source, well-documented, and transparent manner
3. Focus on materials and systems that can be applied in a replicable/scalable professional environment, to enable more widespread adoption and relevant application
4. Explore production methods that can be easily launched with minimal overhead, and adapted to the resources, demands, and opportunities of various regions across the world.
5. Prioritize the use of materials that are low-impact, have potentially regenerative qualities, address pressing social and ecological issues of climate change and toxin proliferation, are naturally-sourced or of natural origin without requiring intensive processing or manufacturing, and are safe for both manufacturers, installers, and occupants.  

The governing system format for development is that of a pre-fabricated wall/roof panel. That said, other form factors and application environments may also be considered. Examples of materials and systems to be tested include:

Compressed straw panels
Mycelium panels
Earth and lime plasters
Wood fiberboard products
Focuses of study will include application into pre-fabricated production system and product, physical characteristics (i.e. structural testing, moisture-related properties), and aesthetic/architectural profiles.

Adam Cohen will be facilitating the development of this project. Jacob Deva Racusin of New Frameworks will assist, and support as a regional contact. Other colleagues in both the U.S. and Canada, many of whom are already working on topics of interest within this project, will be invited and encouraged to participate.

The location for this project is proposed to be at the Endeavour Center in Ontario, Canada. Specific facilities are yet to be determined, however our expectation is that temporary “classroom” in the form of a weather-protected space may be erected on an unused portion of the tennis courts. Power and pressurized water will likely be required. Lodging and food accommodations are yet to be determined in this relationship. While we do not expect to be able to provide a formal educational experience incorporated into this project, we foresee the results to be used for educational purposes; further, event-specific educational opportunities may be available, such as talks, presentations, guest lectures in concurrent courses, or tours of the Lab.

The time frame for this project is to run from mid-May through June 2018. Outcomes of the lab will be published in blogs online, in articles, and in presentations at sustainable building-related conferences.
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Ace McArleton 
Burlington, VT
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