Searching for Sustainable Asphalt Alternatives

Researchers from RMIT University, in Melbourne, have developed a more sustainable paving option with a formulation that blends scrap rubber tires and waste from construction and demolition sites The new material can serve as a paving base layer, which often comprises sand or quarried rock. “Our blended material is a 100% recycled alternative that offers a new way to reuse tyre and building waste, while performing strongly on key criteria like flexibility, strength, and permanent deformation," said lead researcher Mohammad Boroujeni in a RMIT press release. The researchers recently published a studyon the strength of their paving material Construction and Building Materials, testing variables such as the size and amount of recycled waste in their mixture. They found that the material with using 0.5%, 1%, and 2% of "crumb rubber satisfied the shear strength requirements for use in pavement base/subbase applications." [RMIT University]

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the Netherlands city of Arnhem is looking to cut back on asphalt altogether. Faced with alternating bouts of heavy rain and intense heat and droughts, the city's leadership aims to limit the use of asphalt by 10% over the next decade, according to its "Climate Adaptation Strategy 2020-2030." The city hopes to reduce waterlogging, increase the amount of shaded areas to counteract the increased heat, and create climate-resistant areas by adding greenery and thoughtful design measures. [City of Arnhem]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched an initiative to help support historically Black colleges and universities by providing "technical assistance and fund preservation-based stewardship plans at up to eight HBCU campuses across the country," according to a press release from the organization. Through the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust, in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, J.M. Kaplan Fund, the JPB Foundation, and the Executive Leadership Council, will pilot the $1 million HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative, ultimately sponsoring six single-structure and two campus-wide preservation plans during the initiative's first grant cycle. The organizations hope "to empower HBCUs leaders with the resources to protect, preserve, and leverage their historic assets, ensuring these academic institutions and symbols of African American pride are preserved to inspire and educate future generations." Applications open this fall. [The National Trust for Historic Preservation]

Although women make up 50% of the workforce, they comprise just 28% of professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have attributed a part that disparity back to implicit biases embedded in everyday language following their comparison of the gender associations of 25 languages to an international dataset of psychological gender associations. Published as a pre-print in Nature Human Behavior, the study notes that "people’s implicit gender associations are strongly predicted by gender associations encoded in the statistics of the language they speak." [Nature]

courtesy HANNAH

In 2002, researchers from the Michigan State University Department of Entomology discovered Agrilus planipennis, an invasive, oblong beetle commonly known as the Emerald ash borer. Researchers believe that that beetle, native to Asia,arrived in North America via shipping crates. Nearly two decades later, the beetle has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in 35 states and several Canadian provinces. Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, assistant professors at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and founding partners of Ithaca–based firm Hannah, spotted an opportunity to repurpose the dead trees as an affordable building material. Once the beetle arrived in Cornell University’s 4,200-acre Arnot Forest, they used models generated by an iPad-based scanner to determine the best way to cut the irregularly shaped tree logs, slicing them with a custom band saw and creating a 100-square-foot housing prototype. The Ashen Cabin was featured in ARCHITECT's June 2020 issue and further discussed by Lok and Zivkovic in a recent article in The Conversation. [The Conversation]

Last week, several leading AEC firms signed an open letter expressing concern and disappointment in their perceived value of Autodesk Revit given its high cost. Autodesk replied, acknowledging that "we have underinvested in architectural modeling functionality in recent years and are working to make that right." The attention, however, has prompted a similar letter to surface. Penned by 12 architectural firms and developers based in Australia and New Zealand, the letter notes Revit's increasing subscription costs and lackluster pace of improvements and updates. Though Autodesk never formally responded to the letter, Sydney–based Revit consultant Tim Waldock writes, "We know that it was widely circulated at high levels within Autodesk. When subsequently questioned about it, all Autodesk employees responded with 'Oh, that letter!' or words to that effect." [LinkedIn]

Building technology educator and author Edward Allen, FAIA Emeritus, the 2005 recipient of AIA/ACSA's Topaz Medallion, has died at the age of 81. [ARCHITECT]


This article was originally posted by Architect Magazine