To: ” Vegetarian Building” : 2 / 2

Is there a way out, from buildings as Carbon Bombs?
Take food: we are already used to it: vegetarian food. And we all know why: a affluent industrialized countries diet is a lot of meat, and is disastrous for the environment, for food supply in general, for animal welfare, and contributes enormously to climate change. If only by farts from the millions of cows.

Its hardly noticed anymore that more and more people eat vegetarian. Vegetarian meals are almost standard offerd by Restaurants , and for instance th Dutch food authority since last month officially advices to eat meat no more then twice a week. [1]opv tree

However, the vegetarian trend in food is not a stand alone trend. We see the same development with energy: From high impact, CO2 emitting resources to renewable energy , Partly already plant based: biomass energy crops. Not the best solution, better is to use the solar radiation directly, via solar panels for instance. Yes, these also require materials, but the next level is in development: OPV , organic PV panels, made of plant based resources.(see picture with a first demonstration) Or in other words: vegetarian energy (-panels) .
Now then what to do with a third resource category: materials, in building or in general? We don’t realize this , but in fact the same transition is at hand, or at least, should be implemented shortly: we have organic materials, like straw, hemp, or wood and bamboo. One level up we find the minerals, which require a certain amount of processing before ready for use, and on top of that we find the most treated and impact-rich materials: the metals, say the meat pendant / counterpart in materials.

Metals and somewhat less minerals have a high environmental impact, and should be avoided when lower impact materials are available. See part 1: “ Carbon Bomb Building” (CBB’s) . A interesting link again with the Dutch food-authority’s advice for food: “ food , as little treated as possible , is better…”

And therefore we have to aim for Vegetarian Building . Its not just a nice idea, but a must if we want to re-establish a balance in the earth resource system . And just as meat once week should be a standard, and enough for a good biological balance in our bodies, just a door-hinge or iron angle here and there should be enough for good and low impact construction.

Wood and other plant based materials have long proven to be a good basic construction material. Not in the least by the recent apartment buildings constructed in full wood, like the recent opened building the tree iwooden carpark Bergen Norway, 14 levels.[2] Not that higher is more sustainable, but it shows that its a more then mature way of construction. In Sweden a parking garage has been constructed from wood, (dealing with dynamic horizontal forces) [3] , and in Germany a 2 MW wind-turbine is constructed from wood, including the foundation. [4]


By the way, its mainly our own problem in the industrialized world: Globally a mere 5 billion people are housed in a vegetarian way, in wood, bamboo, or adobe buildings. Only 2 billion live in high impact houses. Which shows that we are very wasteful with resources, also in view of the other 5 billion.

global housing by construction material 1

Time is over for architects , claiming value free design-freedom and clients claiming comfort and profit over environmental sound construction. To claim “recycling after lifetime” of their construction elements sets them free for wasting materials here and now.

The climate targets, agreed in Paris can’ t be under estimated: Its not a matter of small changes here and there, its a complete revolution. We have , in 35 years, to go down to 0-CO2 emissions: zero, nothing (0-man caused CO2 emissions beyond natural levels , mainly fossil fuels). And to decrease the most and the fastest in the industrialized world. Which leaves no space for halfhearted measures. High impact materials only when unavoidable and absolutely required.

And yes, vegetarian building will require land for growing materials [5] , But if we limit our meat consumption drastically , it can be done. And by the way: no one has claimed that it would be easy, those climate targets.

In the Netherlands we already have a political party for the animals, a metals party would be no luxury: to make sure they are not used. To prevent Carbon Bomb Building and start Vegetarian Building. To stay below 2 degrees.

1 see english article here:

2 see

3 AIX architecture, see pics at:

4 Timbertower Germany :

5 Maximising Energy and materials Exergy via Embodied Land indicator: tool and info:



Author: ronald rovers