Embodied Energy and Design

Making Architecture Between Metrics and Narratives

Architecture accounts for one third of global carbon emissions, energy consumption, and waste. And buildings are increasingly understood to impact broader ecologies. Yet too little consideration is given to embodied energy—the energy required to extract, produce, transport, and assemble materials into buildings.

Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture Between Metrics and Narratives examines the intersection of architecture and environment with a fresh perspective. It reconsiders the act of making a building as an act of energy expenditure, and it asks questions about a variety of related scales, methods of analysis, and design opportunities. How might new technologies and materials challenge default positions on sustainability? Should we think of buildings as dynamic systems connecting multiple sites rather than as static and isolated objects? Does the duration of architecture extend beyond the life of a built structure? And how might the quantitative and qualitative aspects of design create positive feedback loops? By addressing these questions, architects may discover not only new ways of building, but also new forms of creativity.

Brownell, Blaine. “Inventive Matter: Architecture for a Third Resource Regime” in David Benjamin, ed. Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture Between Metrics and Narratives. New York: Columbia University GSAPP and Lars Müller Publishers, 2017.

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