As climate change risks and global human population grow, we need to design sustainable buildings that are closely tied to nature to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously improving health outcomes. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens views humans and ecosystems as inextricably connected, rather than separate, and demonstrates how technology and building design can maximize both human and environmental health.
Built Environment Research Posters
Many institutions want to eliminate their contribution to climate change, but not all are critically evaluating the actual climate impact of their actions. Well intentioned organizations risk falling into a trap of thinking they are making a difference by purchasing financial instruments, such as carbon credits, with unclear climate impacts.
The need for sustainable buildings is urgent, yet most technologies for improving the efficiency of buildings, cities and infrastructure fail to achieve significant deployment in the market. We are not implementing green solutions fast enough to meet sustainability goals. Why?
Assessment of Potential Human Health Consequences Associated with Processing and Handling of Switchgrass Biomass for Bio-Based Products
In an expanding, regenerative bio-based economy, the role of cheap, low impact lignocellulosic switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) biomass is that of a steady energy source, as we make the transition from fossil fuels to wind and solar power. However epidemiological studies have linked worker exposure to high concentrations of bioaerosols when handling and processing biomass in a biofuel plant.
Atmospheric CO 2 concentrations have reached 416 ppm, surpassing the highest known concentration in the last 400,000 years by over 38%. The United States is the second largest CO 2 emitter in the world, with residential electricity use accounting for 20% of the total emissions. Therefore, a radical reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the housing sector is necessary to mitigate the consequential effects of global warming.
Penn State is leading the emerging research field of energy storage with the Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center. The BEST Center was formed in 2011 to bring together the campus-wide expertise in energy storage, foster collaboration, and provide a focal point for research and education activities. The expertise of Penn State researchers within the BEST Center spans from materials to cells to systems.
Jordan is a leading country in Environmental Education and Awareness (EEA) with undoubtedly many achievements to celebrate. Many EEA initiatives are currently launched in Jordan by government agencies, international donors, national NGOs, the private sector and individuals.
However, while examining initiatives, a number of key issues became evident:
Human behavior is at the core of many of the world's greatest environmental threats and climate change is no exception. Project Drawdown’s seminal list of 80 global climate solutions contains 30 in which individual and household behavior changes play a significant role. The United States is one of the highest-emitting countries of greenhouse gases and studies show that individual behavior contributes significantly to these emissions.
This research is an exploration of materials that can be used as partial replacement of cement in mortar or concrete. According to the International Energy Agency, cement production accounts for 7% of industrial carbon dioxide emissions and one of the key areas of reducing these emissions is increasing the use of blended cements.
Schools are pillars of communities. They provide children with inspiration, knowledge and tools to take into the world. Due to concerns about the climate crisis, biodiversity and plastic pollution facing our planet, students across the world are mobilizing and striking in protest of the lack of action, to raise awareness and to demand change to protect our futures.
Climate change affects every aspect of our world, from human health and the ecosystems we live in to the ways we support ourselves both materially and emotionally. But the siloed world of higher education can make it difficult to present cross-cutting solutions to climate change in the classroom.
Conserving Forest and Farmlands Facing Climate Uncertainty With Market-Based Approaches and Conservation Finance
This poster will cover the mechanics of executing market-based conservation strategies to conserve and protect working forests and farmlands in an era of climate uncertainty. It includes our lesson learned from our research in the Puget Sound.
In the midst of a climate crisis, it is imperative that Penn State as an institution educates students to be aware and critical of the context and impact of their professional work. This means rooting the College of Engineering curriculum in sustainability and ethics. To accomplish this, we have developed wind energy curriculum for Penn State’s First Year Engineering Seminars (FYS).
The Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) opened in 2009 with the construction of our EcoMachine, a natural wastewater reclamation facility designed in partnership with acclaimed biologist, John Todd. As the world’s first LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certified project, the center receives thousands of visitors and many school groups each year. In 2018 we worked with Project Drawdown to produce the first Drawdown Learn Conference.
Air conditioning systems negatively affect the environment; their electrical consumption and leakage of the refrigerant required to run them contribute to global warming. As the planet warms and global GDP increases, the demand for these systems will rise world-wide, stressing energy grids beyond capacity and preventing compliance with global refrigerant and emissions reduction goals.
Engineers develop advanced technology that benefits society. Engineers’ ethics focus on human well-being, health, and safety that are essential to provide an improved quality life for individuals, society, and our planet. Climate change is a societal issue that encompasses these three ethical focuses. Therefore, climate change topics should be included in the engineering students’ curriculum.
There are 12 million cars in Pennsylvania and 99% of those are conventional vehicles which emit greenhouse gases. Collectively, these cars emit an estimated annual 55 million metric tons of CO # and other harmful gases. The wide scale electrification of passenger vehicles in our society is a promising solution to reduce these emissions. This study presents a state level feasibility assessment framework that can be applied to all states and a case study focusing on Pennsylvania.
As we move towards a global population of 9 billion + with our urban areas hosting most of the planets people, the need to be creative in providing quality food in a responsible way is ever greater.
Because wet weather events have been increasingly overwhelming urban stormwater management systems, cities have been turning to green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to relieve pressure on existing stormwater systems. Vegetated GSI strategies, including bioretention cells and rain gardens, provide additional, nature-based tools to slow, disperse, and/or infiltrate polluted runoff before it reaches local waterways.
Electric vehicles, in combination with a decarbonized electric grid, are an important strategy to shift US transportation energy use away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner sources. However, lack of residential charging opportunities could be a major barrier to high levels of plug-in vehicle adoption, since the current charging paradigm relies heavily on overnight charging and most drivers prefer it.
China is the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases and consumer of coal, but it is optimistic to peak CO 2 emissions and lower the carbon intensity of gross domestic product by 60% to 65% below 2005 levels by 2030. However, the country has grand urbanization plans—by 2030, 60% of the country’s population, 880 million people, will live in urban areas. Indoor thermal control of residential buildings consumes large quantities of energy and is responsible for significant CO 2 emissions.
Live Entertainment Production, including Sports, Concerts and Theatre are resource intensive. Live events demand purpose built stadiums, theatres and substantial infrastructure investments. These investments impact utilities, transportation, parking/stormwater and facility maintenance. There are also short term scenic elements purpose built for single shows. The Broadway Green Alliance is dedicated to reducing the overall environmental footprint of live production.
Ice911 Research: A Reversible Localized Geo-Engineering Technique to Mitigate Climate Change Effects
It is now known that the accelerated loss of Arctic Ice has a profound global effect, causing extreme weather events and driving up global temperatures.Ice911 is a nonprofit based out of Silicon Valley with the mission of restoring Arctic sea ice. Currently, Ice911 is acknowledged as the furthest ahead Arctic restoration effort in the world.
Indiana Drawdown is inspired by Georgia Drawdown and others. It's grassroots and modeled after the opensource software movement. It values radical transparency and participation. Our main goal is to reduce Indiana's emissions 45% by 2030, as the IPCC says we must.
We've identified 200 entities already implementing Drawdown solutions in Indiana. Most don't know about Drawdown or how impactful their work is regarding climate change.
Landscape Architecture Depth Studio: Adapting Drawdown Strategies for Local Climate Change Intervention
Climate change is a global phenomenon with real, tangible, and potentially dire impacts at the local scale. The 12-week project investigation piloted an emergent and flexible design process that responded to the needs of each student’s efforts.
Millersville University of Pennsylvania recently constructed a $7.5 million, 14,600 square-foot campus building that is currently undergoing review for Net-Zero Energy certification. The Lombardo Center houses the Admissions, Marketing, and Residence staff, and is also a Welcome Center with an educational focus.
Mirrors for Earth’s Energy Rebalancing (MEER:ReflEction): Resource-Driven Engineering Leveraging Earth’s Chemistries to Immediately Offer Remediation
Anthropogenic aerosols and greenhouse gases (GHG) enter the atmosphere as peoples exercise their unalienable rights in pursuit of well-being and prosperity. Once airborne, the aerosols cool the Earth almost as much as co-emitted GHG warm it. This balancing act has masked an additional 1C of warming, should the aerosols disappear when phasing out the fossil fuels without compensatory solar radiation management. In this scenario, existing knowledge about ecosystem responses project a probabl
Buildings account for 38% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion, and heating, cooling, and ventilating buildings alone contributes 13% of national CO2 emissions. Globally, demand for cooling has doubled since 2000, and is projected to triple again by 2050 without ambitious changes in design and practice. One major strategy for reducing cooling energy use while maintaining comfort is using more air movement.
Operating the built environment contributes 28% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the extraction and manufacturing of building materials contributes another 11%. One emerging class of materials that can reduce both the operational and embodied emissions of the built environment are responsive, biomimetic and/or living materials.
In tropical countries, hot and humid climate present different challenges than those the Passive House standard has dealt with so far in heating dominated climates. These challenges, in addition to coping with local building practices for affordability are why the project has been chosen as a pilot program for defining national policy and constructions standards for NZEB.
Alaskan coastal Indigenous communities face severe, urgent, and complex social and infrastructural challenges resulting from environmental changes. However, the magnitude and significance of impacts are unclear; as is how local communities will respond to resulting disruptions and disasters.
As the second largest contributor to GHG emissions, the U.S. has a responsibility to curb its energy usage. American college and university campuses are as big as small cities, yet they act like large retail electricity consumers that wield control over their energy sources. Campus administrators can now choose renewable energy that is cost-effective. Already more than 150 colleges and universities in the U.S.
Podcasts have become popular as an educational tool in recent years, but there is still a lack of podcasts that focus on climate change, specifically ones that address efforts to reverse global warming in Pennsylvania. The goal of this project is to create a series of audio files that address the Project Drawdown solutions in Pennsylvania.
Halocarbon gases are among the most powerful greenhouse gases ever emitted. Their global warming potentials are thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide, and their emissions account for 14% of current global warming. Halocarbons are also the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries. U.S. emission rates have increased nearly 250% since 1990, and unabated global emissions could induce an additional 0.5 ˚C of warming by 2100.
Recent IPCC analysis has demonstrated the necessity of large-scale carbon sequestration as a supplement to emissions reductions if global warming is to remain below 1.5 degrees Celsius. While afforestation is a cost-effective carbon sequestration strategy, the change in surface cover also reduces the Earth’s overall albedo (reflectivity).
The IPCC’s 2018 special report emphasizes the necessity of large-scale biological carbon sequestration, in addition to rapid emissions reductions, to restrain global warming to 1.5 ֯ Celsius. While afforestation is a popular, scalable, and cost-effective biosequestration strategy, it also reduces the earth’s overall shortwave albedo (reflectivity).
Portland cement concrete is the most widely used human-made material and makes up approximately 40% by mass of everything we produce. At the same time, it is responsible for 5 to 10% of the global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Portland cement, the most critical ingredient of concrete, is made of the most available elements in Earth’s continental crust, as well as in other terrestrial planets.
Reduction in PM2.5-associated Health Care Costs as Incentive for Healthcare Sector Advocacy for Climate Policy
The nature and extent of adverse health outcomes exacerbated by the climate crisis are firmly established. The scientific community has consistently appealed to the healthcare sector to intervene on climate change for the benefit of population health, but also because of the sizeable percentage of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to the healthcare system and the significant lobbying power of hospitals and insurers.
This research modeled and analyzed the total change in CO 2 emissions of a medium sized commercial office building under varying weather conditions, solar energy levels, and subject to optimal control of HVAC systems.
Building material reuse represents a tremendous opportunity for sequestering carbon, retaining embodied energy, reducing landfilled material, and conserving natural resources. It is far more effective than many other forms of construction waste management that rely on additional inputs to grind, melt or pulp materials into a new form.
There are compelling studies that display the danger of metabolic CO 2 and fossil fuel CO 2 while entrapped in the buildings many people occupy. In fact, productivity amongst workers and students can be increased by minimizing CO 2 concentrations at building-level. Current direct air capture (DAC) systems are massive and have been developed to sequester carbon dioxide, created from the ignition of fossil fuels, directly from the air at 400 ppm.
Simulating Energy Saving and Carbon Reducing Building Strategies For Residential Buildings in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Around 40% of global energy consumption can be contributed to buildings. 1 By evaluating the materials with which we construct our buildings, we can determine how to reduce their energy consumption and related carbon emissions. This study will focus on simulating the energy consumption, embodied carbon, and monetary cost of a single-family home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
A humanly-scaled community of living units and courts.
The cellular expression of patterns of Biophilia are used to set the character/quality of the architecture:
The Pennsylvania State University is updating engineering first-year seminars (FYS) to include ethics and humanities by incorporating more sustainability and human rights concepts. My research with Penn State’s Drawdown centered around creating new curriculum for Penn State FYS that incorporates the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In 2017, Switzerland ratified the Paris agreement and committed to reduce its carbon emissions by half by 2030 (from 1990 levels), including carbon offsets abroad. Switzerland also announced an indicative objective to reduce its emissions by 70%-85% until 2050 (from 1990 emissions), including offsets abroad. Studies that describe the existing solutions, their combined potential and the possible pathways to achieve such objectives are uncommon.
In the IPCC’s Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C (2018), biochar was listed as one of several promising negative emissions technologies (NET).
The Pathways Project: Local Planning and Federal Support for Low Carbon Infrastructure in the United States
2020 is shaping up to be a watershed moment for climate policy in the United States. The Green New Deal proposal has reopened the national conversation about infrastructure and climate change, and galvanized support in some important constituencies. It also raises a key dynamic for climate action, namely the interaction of local action and federal policy.