Garbage of Today Could be the Material of the Future Skyscrapers

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - 13:44

The UN Climate Change Conference, November 2017, took place 6-17 November in Bonn, Germany and was presided over by the Government of Fiji.

“We can build net-zero buildings,” said Elizabeth Beardsley, senior policy counsel at the U.S. Green Building Council, which certifies energy efficient buildings. “We’ve been working on climate for decades,” she said. “We feel strongly that it’s time to act on climate,” popular science reports.

Buildings generate pollution in two significant ways. One is from power use. The second way buildings generate pollution is in the use of materials like steel and concrete, which have a sizable carbon footprint.

To cut power use, Beardsley said that homeowners and building managers can install LED lights, generate electricity from rooftop solar panels and use smart water heaters and air conditioners to store that clean energy. She described other technologies, like windows that automatically tint when rooms get too warm, saving energy on air conditioning while keeping homes comfortable.

Producers are also looking to use other materials from recycled goods, fashioning insulation from recycled cardboard and carpet from old plastic bottles. “Now, much of the carpet that is available is all recycled content and can be recycled itself again,” Beardsley said. “It’s really a circular process where there is no waste.”

It may be that the homes of the future will be made from today’s trash — unwanted wood, metal, cardboard and plastic, along with planet-warming carbon pollution that can be plucked from the sky. Add in smart lighting and high-efficiency appliances, and you can make a building with a minimal carbon footprint.

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