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Advancing eco-friendly materials through building policy and education

Global environmental change is the defining challenge of our age. One main contributor to this challenge is the modern built environment, which accounts for more than 40% of global energy use and as much as 35% of global emissions, particularly due to buildings’ operational phase. This environmental challenge has essential implications for social justice, where disadvantaged and traditional communities are disproportionately impacted by rising global temperatures, drought, environmental degradation, and loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, this problem is accelerating due to these communities adopting industrialized building practices and international energy guidelines that supplant vernacular design.

To address these hurdles, this line of research aims to catalyze the broader implementation of natural building materials and methods within mainstream construction, in both the educational and policy realms of the AECM world.

We develop Environmental Product Declerations (EPDs) and policy models that allow for a more informed decision making in the early stages of the design process. Additionally, we employ perception surveys to identify motivation and barriers among homeowners and field experts and conduct a policy repair analysis that examines which improvements are necessary to allow better adoption of eco-friendly building materials within the building codes and standards.

We strive to employ various critical research steps to overcoming the barriers to using natural and healthy materials, including developing educational courses and programs, synthesizing technical data, providing policy makers with design performance and guidelines, submitting appendixes proposals to building codes committees, and enhancing traditional construction practices in developing regions.