Natural and bio-based building materials are critically needed to dramatically reduce carbon-intensive and extractive construction practices, and to improve comfort, health, and community engagement. However, despite their advantages, natural materials are not widespread. In her lecture, Ben-Alon will present her research, education, and outreach activities towards the performance and policy advancement of natural and earthen building materials. Ben-Alon’s lecture will present design-build methodologies for community participation using local clays, digital pathways to innovating earth and bio-based materiality, perception challenges and strategies for homeowners and building experts, as well as comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and policy repair endeavors towards the development of comprehensive earthen building codes.
Lola Ben-Alon, PhD will direct the Architecture Technology sequence in the GSAPP M.Arch program beginning Spring 2021. She specializes in socially and environmentally sustainable building practices, natural building materials, and engineering-architecture collaborations. Her current work focuses on quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the environmental and social impacts of biophilic design and natural building materials. Her work has been published in Building and Environment, Journal of Green Building, Woodhead Publishing Series in Civil and Structural Engineering, and Automation in Construction. Ben-Alon received her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Mellon Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics. She earned her B.S. in Structural Engineering and M.S. in Construction Management at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.
Ben-Alon serves on the editorial board of Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews (Elsevier) and the Journal of Green Building (College Publishers). She is the academic advisor of TERRA Collaborative, an all-women organization that provides hands-on building training for women and youth. Through sharing skills and knowledge that promote healthy and affordable living environments, Ben-Alon hopes to diversify the building industry and catalyze new intersections and creative dialogues among the various disciplines of architecture, engineering, art, and sociology.