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Low Carbon Cities Project

China 2010 -

Bild Architecture, in collaboration with LAB architecture studio and SIDAR (Shanghai)

The Low Carbon Cities Project is an ongoing research project to develop design tools to facilitate reduced carbon dioxide production in the development and long term use of China’s rapidly expanding cities.

Bild Architecture's contribution to the project is focused on adapting Life Cycle Thinking techniques to urban scale design. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), also known as “cradle-to-grave analysis”, is the investigation and evaluation of the social and environmental impacts of a given product or service caused or necessitated by its existence.

The theory of this assessment is that it empowers us to make an informed choice as to the least harmful product or service. LCA goes beyond typical parameters of “sustainability” and considers the full gamut of affect, from emissions to habitat destruction. LCA is well established in Industrial and Product design for obvious reasons, but it’s use in urban design is currently very limited.

Bild’s research is addressing how LCA can be used in the urban context, essentially exploring how we can reduce carbon emissions throughout the life of big, urban projects. What do these tools offer? How can they be adapted? What strategies can be explored for reducing emissions? How can we empower architects and urban designers to make informed decisions, both now and in the future?

The research is currently exploring a range of topics and directions, including:
• evaluation of existing LCA techniques and best practice environmental guidelines such as LEED Neighborhood and Green Star
• investigation of how LCA techniques can inform architectural design, both conceptually and in ongoing project development
• development of a set of LCA tools and guidelines for architects and urban designers, and test these against the world’s best practices for “eco”-urban development
• ongoing testing of these tools and guidelines in a design-orientated project
• exploration of how parametric tools such as Grasshopper can inform the assessment and development process

This project is an a real-world initiative with legitimate, informed research partners, including SIDAR, one fo the largest architectural design institutes in China, providing an opportunity to develop and implement innovative emission reduction methodologies as these partners design and oversee the construction of large architectural and urban projects throughout mainland China.