Unboxing Carbon. The Catalog

Henning Larsen
Denmark · 2022

This graphic collection of architectural materials presents complex data from Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in a visually accessible way, and in a unit that is readily understandable for architects: by square meter.

The Catalog is intended to give architects the means of assessing global warming potential (GWP) in the product production phases, thereby the means to align projects currently on the drawing boards with the recommendations of the IPCC 6th Report.

The critical window for a serious response to catastrophic climate change is now and the next few years. For this reason, the temporal aspect of carbon emissions, that is, the emissions from the production phase, the up-front carbon, must be a decision driver in the design process. The UN’s newly published Emissions Gap report indicates an urgent system-wide transformation is needed to deliver the enormous CO2e cuts. The report identifies various reduction strategies in the building sector, including selecting construction materials with lower CO2e impacts.

Material selection is the realm of the architect and designer, and as the production process is directly linked to measurable environmental impacts, the architecture profession must evolve to meet the serious global challenges. Raising the bar of knowledge is essential for architects, a process that Henning Larsen has driven with the Unboxing Carbon Course: a carbon literacy course focusing Unboxing Carbon The Catalog on material impacts. The Catalog is a product of the data workshop in the course, which has been conducted internally at Henning Larsen offices in Denmark and Norway, as well as with other Danish architecture studios. Special thanks to the co-authors JaJa Architects, Effekt Arkitekter, Dorte Mandrup, Arkitektforeningen course participants, Holscher Nordberg, and the enthusiastic colleagues at Henning Larsen for their generous contributions to this open-source catalog. We will update it annually.

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