EPISODE 3: CARBON
Carbon is essential to life. It is the foundation of nearly 10 million different compounds, the second most abundant element in the human body, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe. As a fundamental building block, carbon makes the built environment possible. Yet carbon simultaneously makes the built environment a threat—as an invisible byproduct of life. The built environment contributes around half of the carbon emissions globally. Buildings, especially when they are mineral-based, have tremendous potential in acting as carbon sinks.
In the last few months, Climeworks opened the world’s largest “direct air capture and storage” plant, sucking carbon out of the air and turning it into underground rock; the EU announced a plan to remove five million tons of CO₂ by 2030; and the US launched “Earthshot” to remove billions of tons of CO₂ from the air, which was followed up by an infrastructure bill allocating $3.5 billion to build four carbon-sucking machines.
Carbon capture, carbon sinks, and carbon markets are transforming the way we might see our planet, our future, and our relationships with each other and with other living things for the foreseeable future. How will carbon as a material continue to reshape the world? How might the material flows, energy, and forms of our built environment adjust to these new interpretations of carbon?
Join us for an online discussion as part of Material Worlds, a new series that gathers experts and scholars to present fresh viewpoints on the sourcing of building materials, not only to envision the future but also to better understand the past and present of humanity’s impact on the nonhuman world.
Register in advance for the webinar.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Holly Jean Buck is a geographer and environmental social scientist who is currently an assistant professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University at Buffalo. She is the author of the books After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair and Restoration, which explores best-case scenarios for carbon dioxide removal, and Ending Fossil Fuels: Why Net Zero Is Not Enough, about how to approach fossil fuel phaseout. She holds a PhD in development sociology from Cornell University.
Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran is the Global Energy & Climate Innovation Editor of The Economist and host of its podcast on climate change, To a Lesser Degree. His editorial responsibilities range from business and finance to technology and innovation, and he has produced numerous cover stories and won awards for his reporting. He is also the author of three well-received books on sustainability and innovation, as well as an accomplished public speaker. The Financial Times has declared him to be “a writer to whom it is worth paying attention.”
Robert Niven is the founder, CEO, and chair of CarbonCure Technologies, the global leader in carbon dioxide (CO₂) removal technologies for the concrete industry, with over 500 sites worldwide. Niven founded the company in 2012 with a mission to save 500 million metric tons of CO₂ emissions annually by 2030. CarbonCure is the past recipient of the Carbon XPRIZE, Cleantech Group’s North American company of the year, and BloombergNEF New Energy Pioneer. Niven lives in Victoria, BC, and spends his spare time with his family, pursuing outdoor adventure sports and supporting nature conservation, homelessness, and cleantech entrepreneurship initiatives.
Lindsey Wikstrom is the cofounding principal of Mattaforma, a design and research practice, and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Her Core I architecture studio explores the generative potential of material sourcing, commons, and renewability, while her Advanced IV studio focuses on the architectural and urban implications of biodiverse mass timber. Her research has been supported by the SOM Foundation, published in Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives, and exhibited at the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. Wikstrom has a forthcoming essay in Cite and a book project with Routledge.
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This session will be led virtually through Zoom, a free video-conferencing software. Participants are encouraged to use a computer, smart phone, or tablet with a camera and Internet access, if possible. Participants may also dial in using a phone line. Participants will receive a Zoom link upon registering.
This event was made possible through a generous gift from Emilio Ambasz. The Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment is a platform for fostering dialogue, promoting conversation, and facilitating research about the relationship between the built and natural environment, with the aim of making the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to the wider public while highlighting the urgent need for an ecological recalibration.