GreenScale Research

Today, prevailing discourse on “green” building practices centers on a presumed corollary between sustainability and advanced building technologies. As a result, research and discussions about achieving sustainability and greener building methods has generally focused on the capabilities of modern technology to generate “sustainable” design solutions. And yet, currently there exists no universally accepted method or tool capable of holistically measuring the broader impact of these advanced technologies on the built and natural environments. What are the true costs – the consequences, even – of these novel and often experimental building materials and methods of assembly? And how might they be measured in order to expand our ability to make informed design and material decisions, leading ultimately to the creation of truly sustainable buildings?

Launched in Fall 2009, the GSRP is examining these questions through quantitative analysis of construction methods, materials, and principles of design through a series of original case studies focused on measuring, evaluating, and comparing purportedly “green” materials and methods of assembly alongside their traditional predecessors. One goal of the GSRP is to generate specific, objective, quantifiable data capable of describing and comparing the broader implications of materials and methods used in the design and construction of buildings. The team is also developing a digital tool to carry out this quantifiable analysis dynamically throughout the entire design process, from concept to construction. This tool will give practitioners and students alike a greater awareness of the environmental impact of their buildings and encourage them to truly integrate sustainable principles into their designs. Finally, the Green Scale method is applied through the evaluation of new facilities, building materials, methods and technologies in studio and through interdepartmental collaboration on research projects such as the Green Cloud.

The research team, led by Prof. Aimee P.C. Buccellato, is composed of faculty, staff, and students from the School of Architecture, the College of Engineering, and the Center for Research and Computing at the University of Notre Dame.