Developing the next generation of building envelopes to restore our ecosystem
Rethinking the way buildings are constructed, from consuming our resources to having a positive impact on our environment using emerging nanomaterials.
Today, climate change already manifests its effects on the global environment with prolonged and more extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods and bushfires. Impacts in the built environment include increased mortality and morbidity, poor air quality, and scarcity of fresh water supply. An urgent reduction in global carbon emissions is the only viable possibility to mitigate global warming and ensure the survival of the ecosystems on our planet.
The construction industry alone accounts for 38% of the global CO2 emissions and 35% of the total energy consumption. With the current urbanisation pace, climate change and slow adoption of mitigation measures, it is likely that cities, in the future, will face a lack of resources and experience unhealthy environments.
Our vision proposes a new generation of building envelopes that could give back, repair and restore the ecosystem they work within, a future where buildings will no longer be detrimental for the environment – but an active part of its restoration.
This project will define a roadmap for the implementation of the different nanotechnologies at the building scale. It explores potentials and limitations for their applicability in building envelopes by identifying and analysing a comprehensive array of criteria that maximise performance within a circular economy framework.
This project resonates with a broad spectrum of United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDG) and, in particular, is underpinned by regenerative design principles (SDG-12), while contributing to advance the Australian manufacturing sector (SDG-9). It will particularly focus on:
The multidisciplinary approach will include studies aimed at identifying complementary, as well as conflicting, operating conditions of the different nanotechnologies, urban context and climates, building design and component engineering. Small-scale prototypes will be developed with the University Core Facilities. These prototypes will be installed and monitored on PHEBE, the new School of Architecture, Design and Planning’s testing module for building components, with cash support from the School. Both desktop studies and experimental approaches will guide the research in the definition of potential applications, barriers for adoption and opportunities for development.
This project paves the way for innovative research, education and outreach agendas within the Sydney Nano Institute and across the University. It aims at identifying pathways for cross-sectoral innovation while prototyping new building envelope components that integrate pioneering nanomaterials.