Until now, there has been a lack of a well-grounded, credible and innovative international alliance to realize net-zero structures.
It will now be possible through a recently granted project, the Net-Zero Future Project, with up to NOK 10 million from the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Directorate for Higher Education and Skills (HK-dir).
Universities and professional communities from four continents will be involved in this project.
This alliance can be of great importance for reaching the goal of decarbonization of the built environment.
The funds are provided in accordance with the Norwegian government's panorama strategy, and international partnership for excellent education, research and innovation (INTPART).
Requires cooperation across several continents
‘Theoretical and practical Knowledge on reducing CO2 emissions varies significantly from one region to another, and filling this gap requires seamless international cooperation and knowledge exchange among researchers, engineers, and academicians,’ emphasizes associate professor Mahdi Kioumarsi at the Department of Built Environment.
He will lead the project, which will last for five years.
With him are researchers from five academic institutions from five countries, i.e., OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University, the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) in India, the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, and Iowa State University in the USA.
Public and industry partners that develop, produce, and implement materials and technology, and carry out transport and construction activities will also join this project.
Paving the way for a zero-emissions philosophy
Until now, there has been a lack of a zero-emissions philosophy in many research projects, and this project paves the way for putting this on the agenda.
Addresses the entire built environment
The project deals with the entire built environment, the houses we live in, schools and other public buildings, commercial buildings, and bridges, to name a few.
To find solutions, knowledge must be developed, and a whole generation of engineers, researchers and teachers must be inspired to join in reducing emissions.
It is also important to find barriers that can prevent the use of zero-emission materials and technologies.
Close to 40 percent of emissions from building infrastructure
According to the World Green Building Council, 39 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the civil infrastructure, not only during operation but also during material production, transport to the construction site, construction, maintenance, repair, and end-of-life demolition.
More knowledge is needed about new production and construction methods
New production and construction methods can be used to reduce CO2 emissions.
For example, 3D printing can be used more, and less cement can be used by replacing it with other materials. Today's cement production produces a lot of CO2 emissions.
Solutions, such as reducing the quantity of cement, changing its chemistry, and optimizing the mixture, have been considered to overcome this challenge.
However, the new solutions have not been widely used, partly due to a lack of sufficient research and a knowledge gap that prevents the public and private sectors from adopting the latest advances.
Better maintenance and waste management
Advanced methods to monitor the condition and safety of buildings and constructions to extend their lifespan are also becoming important. That will also allow innovative processes for demolition, disposal and recycling.
Conferences, summer school, PhD courses and exchange
An annual international conference and summer school, a Ph.D. course, joint research and student exchange between the partner institutions are among the planned activities of the Net-Zero Future project.
OsloMet can lead the international research required to realize net-zero structures
‘I expect OsloMet and Norway will be able to lead the developing of net-zero structures within and after the project period,’ says Mahdi Kioumarsi.
‘We have with us experienced professors from the leading universities.’
‘The choice of partnering institutions has been carefully made to not only answer the identified research gaps and questions but also pave the way to train a new generation of engineers, researchers, and educators.’
‘A panel consisting of public and industry partners will be established within a few months after the project’s inception to streamline academy-industry-public exchanges.’
‘At the end of each year, we will monitor our progress, discuss the problems and find solutions,’ says Mahdi Kioumarsi.
At the top of the article you see an illustration photo from Oslo.