Smart Enclosure Introduction
In the 20th century, builders used giant energy resources and chemical-based materials to conquer the vagaries of nature. Our buildings now contribute approximately 45% of total US greenhouse gas emissions (Architecture 2030, 2013). And while scientists tell us a stable climate is assured at atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 350 parts per million (Hansen et al., 2008), today concentrations are rising past 410 parts per million.
Consequently, today’s building efforts must address climate change in two ways. First, we need to reduce global carbon emissions in the developed world by 80% by 2050 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change (Meinshausen, 2007). And second, we have to go beyond just reducing emissions and start removing carbon from the atmosphere to return to the stable atmospheric CO2 concentration of 350 ppm.
The Smart Enclosure System offers a 21st-century guide to advanced high-performance building assemblies. The System is a toolkit that can help you maximize the positive impact of your building projects: providing optimized comfort, safety, energy efficiency, and negative carbon emissions.
The Smart Enclosure System isn’t a one size fits all prescription, but a range of strategies that can be adapted for each project and site. It can be applied to any wall assembly, including:
- Masonry Retrofit
- Wood Retrofit
- 2x Framing
- I-Joist Outrigger
- Double Stud
- Mass Timber
- Straw Bale
- Metal Frame
(Please note that Masonry Retrofit is the first assembly with complete resources. As each assembly type is completed they will become available on the website.)
While the construction context may vary, in each case, the solutions are guided by seven principles:
- Lower Embodied Carbon
- Greater Carbon Sequestration
- Lower Toxicity
- More Natural Materials
- Smart Vapor, Air and Thermal Control
- 100+ Year Durability
- Fully Integrated Performance
The more we realize these principles, the smarter the enclosure becomes. The enclosure is a complete system, a system whose intelligence is built into the structural fabric. Smart qualities are not about tech gadgets that require rebooting, repairs and worse, the smarts should passively reside in the architecture.
To help architects and other professionals make choices and take action, the Smart Enclosure System is broken into Three Tiers of performance.
- Modified Default (good)
- Simplified and Improved (better)
- Optimized Performance (best)
The Three Tiers are not precise demarcations of success, but indicate the direction of improvement relative to the other tiers and the industry default assembly.
Let’s Do It
Architects, engineers, consultants, and builders have tremendous power to mitigate climate change. To not only do less bad, but to fix systems, and actively create a better future. There is no one solution. But any possible solution must address occupant comfort, health, and safety, be sustainable and encourage biodiversity, and produce negative carbon emissions.
Find the solution that best supports your project’s goals, and build like the future depends on it!