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E is for ’embodied’

We are such a visual culture. It seems that new buildings are often designed to look good in a photo: a quick glance on Instagram reveals feed after feed of architectural snapshots, each more alluring than the last. So how do you get people to focus instead on the invisible, the intangible, the intergenerational, the long view. Well, when it comes to building the “elephant in the room” is embodied energy: how much will your new home cost the future? How big an energy debt does a particular material bring with it? How much fossil fuel was needed to prepare it? How far was it transported? The list goes on, according to one of the architects on the CobBauge project: but when it comes to cob it’s also “how much energy we didn’t use”. I like that idea: of adding in the savings from an avoided future. The art of minimizing effort for maximum effect. And then he went on to mention other cob benefits: increased sense of place, no performance gap, amazing thermal insulation, tranquility (due to sound proofing), air purification, protection from magnetic radiation, fire proofing and moisture control. But we are an image-obsessed culture, so I’ve got to find the visuals for this. No pressure! [Thanks Andrew, really inspiring discussion. I will be back for more.]

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