TALL TIMBER: Upfront Carbon — The Now Narrative

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TALL TIMBER: Upfront Carbon — The Now Narrative

June 25 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT


The Skyscraper Museum continues its “Mass Timber Semester” lecture series, which brings together key voices in the mass timber movement to reflect on its short history, current condition, and promising future, with an in-person program at SOM’s Lower Manhattan office at 7 World Trade Center.

A decade ago, concerns about energy consumption in the building sector focused on operational carbon—particularly, emissions associated with heating and cooling. Today, though, the discussion has shifted in part to embodied carbon, which can also be called “upfront carbon,” because it is carbon released into the atmosphere before the building even opens its doors. Embodied carbon measures the first-stage “carbon cost” of producing energy-intensive materials such as concrete and steel, of transporting them to the site, and of other processes that require burning fossil fuels used to construct a building.

Embodied carbon has become an increasingly important concern of scientists, engineers, and architects. Driven by the urgency of global warming and a growing understanding of the significant role new construction plays in climate change, designers are becoming more conscious of the carbon cost of the materials they choose. For many, engineered wood—considered in the full picture of responsibly managed forests and whole life-cycle analysis—offers at least a partial answer.

While the concept of embodied carbon is still not widely understood by the public, it has a history in the architectural community that our program will explore. Longtime thought leaders David Lewis and Alan Organschi will discuss the role of research in both academic and professional practice in advancing ideas about low-embodied carbon materials, such as mass timber. After their presentations, they’ll engage in conversation with writer and architecture critic Fred A. Bernstein.

This program will take place in-person at SOM’s 7 World Trade Center. Space is limited to 50 attendees, so priority RSVP is given to museum members.


June 25
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm EDT


The Skyscraper Museum
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SOM, New York
250 Greenwich Street, 7 World Trade Center
New York, NY 10007 United States
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