High-Performance Materials and Construction

Material Consumption & Environment Impact

machine squareBuildings consume energy, produce carbon emissions, and impact the environment not only during operation, but also by utilizing material resources that are typically derived from raw materials extracted at an environmental cost. Contemporary building construction is extremely wasteful in its practice of extraction, use, and landfill as the end-of-life scenario for all buildings, and as a result, the majority of the world’s material consumption is related to construction. In fact, the energy embodied in the construction of an average office building built to current U.S. standards equals about 5 to 8 years of operational energy consumption.

Improve Life-Cycle Building Performance

The Center’s research initiatives seek to establish how buildings can be designed and built to radically improve material consumption patterns and life-cycle building performance through:

  • Studying, evaluating, and developing building-specific, design related environmental assessment metrics and framework
  • Researching environmentally smart material and construction solutions from the nano-scale to the building scale
  • Emphasizing an interdisciplinary approach that combines researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science with other external contributors
  • Conducting research at the forefront of material innovation and digitally supported sustainable material and construction strategies