PhD Candidate Catherine de Wolf is one of four winners of the 2016 Hangai prize, awarded to outstanding papers presented at the annual IASS Symposium by younger members of the Association. De Wolf presented this paper at the 2016 Symposium, “Spatial Structures in the 21st Century,” held in September 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.
Abstract: To reduce embodied carbon in buildings, two strategies are available. First, material efficiency is improved. Second, the materials are chosen for their low carbon content. The operational carbon of buildings has lowered recently, but for immediate emissions savings innovations in embodied carbon are needed. This research demonstrates that most material mass lies in roofs and floor slabs, rather than in walls and columns. Therefore, the first strategy to reduce impacts would be to lower their material quantities in floor and roof design. For the second strategy, alternative materials are studied. Vaulted masonry structures combine both strategies: vaults span spaces efficiently and masonry has a lower embodied impact than steel and concrete. Results demonstrate that a combination of both strategies effectively lowers the embodied carbon of buildings: typical floor and roof structures range around 440 kgCO2e/m2 whereas vaulted tile masonry can be as low as 60 kgCO2e/m2.