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PHIUS Conference Set for December

The Joslin Hill Passive House in Waitsfield, Vermont, was named the best single family home in last year's design competition. It was designed by Jesse Thompson of Kaplan Thompson Architects in Portland, Maine. Photo by Irvin Serrano. The annual conference will take place this year in Arlington, Virginia, with two days of pre-conference programming on December 4 and 5, the core conference on December 6 and 7, and a tour of Passive House projects on December 8. The conference brings together a variety of high-performance building professionals to focus on building science, construction detailing, mechanical systems, and case studies of…

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Embodied Carbon Emissions in Buildings

Phil and Chris, hosts of the Green Architects’ Lounge Podcast, define and discuss embodied carbon in buildings, and make an impassioned case for understanding why this is absolutely the most urgent issue we face in the design and construction industry today—even ahead of zero-energy building—as we work together to combat a fast-approaching climate crisis. Listen to the podcast https://cdn.simplecast.com/audio/244dd9/244dd98f-d8ab-4943-9b47-4fb0f1713e30/dfff632a-3e39-4bea-9f57-1c11892dfe95/gal_102_master2_tc.mp3 Embodied carbon is carbon that is emitted in the production of materials, and the building industry is responsible for 40% of global annual emissions. Buildings are the problem and the solution, and understanding the immediate impacts of embodied carbon is absolutely…

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What’s the Environmentally Friendliest Way to Shop?

Is cyber-shopping terrible for the environment?  Some say yes, with all those trucks heading out into suburbia to deliver your latest gadget, fashion garment, or book. But online retailers insist it is the greener delivery route—much better than you driving to the store. So, who is right? And are there even better ways? This really does matter for. Online shopping makes up one in seven retail purchases worldwide. Its value in 2019 will be a staggering $3.5 trillion, a figure that is rising by more than a fifth every year. How much of the total carbon footprint of what you…

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Lung Disease Strikes Engineered Stone Fabricators

Cutting engineered stone under a jet of water reduces airborne silica, a serious health risk for unprotected fabricators. Photo by Scott Gibson. Fabricators in four western states who work with engineered stone to make kitchen and bath countertops are showing increased cases of a potentially fatal illness linked to job site exposure to silica. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 workers in four western states were diagnosed with silicosis in a two-year period, including two fatalities. Most of them worked with engineered stone. Engineered stone—sold under brand names such as Caesarstone and Silestone—is…

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Creating a Circular Economy for the Construction Industry

The construction industry faces unique challenges in reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills. But change is possible. Illustration courtesy of Recycle Track Systems. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs—and in the construction industry, the eggshells tend to be rather large. In fact, while the industry is most commonly associated with creation, the waste generated by both construction and demolition is a huge problem—a problem that has no easy solution. In 2015, an estimated 548 million tons of construction and demolition waste were sent to landfills in the U.S., twice as much as standard municipal solid…

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California Startup to Offer MDF Made from Rice Straw

A California company is nearing completion of a manufacturing plant that soon will be turning out medium-density fiberboard (MDF) made from rice straw instead of wood fiber. CalPlant 1 is building the $315 million facility on 276 acres of land in Willows, California, some 85 miles north of Sacramento, in an important rice-growing region. When complete, the company says, the plant will produce the equivalent of 140 million square feet of 3/4-inch MDF per year. MDF, almost all of which is currently made with waste wood fiber, is widely used in cabinets, doors, and floor substrates. CalPlant 1 said its…

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