Building the Carbon Positive City

Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 11:30am

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Building the Carbon Positive City

The contemporary mid- and high-rise city is built with mineral-based materials that have been extracted, smelted, sintered, or synthesized through intensive fossil-energy based industrial processes with significant environmental impact. Regional as well as global trends in urban growth suggest that the demands for these materials and processes will rise sharply over the next 30 – 50 years, setting the stage for a significant spike in greenhouse gas emissions associated with the demand new buildings and infrastructure. Potential ecological and economic synergies between continental forests and rapidly urbanizing landscapes suggest an alternative: the transformation of dense urban centers into massive carbon sinks, made possible through the broad implementation of a host of new and emerging mass timber construction and biomass-based material technologies.

Alan Organschi, Director, Innovation Lab, Bauhaus Earth

Alan Organschi is a principal and partner at Gray Organschi Architecture (, an architectural practice in New Haven, Connecticut recognized internationally for its integration of design, construction, and environmental research.

In April 2021, Mr. Organschi was appointed Director of the Innovation Lab at the Bauhaus der Erde (Bauhaus Earth – a global interdisciplinary initiative that seeks to transform the building sector from a major source of anthropogenic environmental and social impact into a regenerative and ecologically sensitive means to meet the housing and infrastructural needs of an urbanizing global population. Mr. Organschi continues as a Senior member of the faculty at the Yale School of Architecture where he has taught architectural design and building technology for two decades. During the 2019 and 2020 academic years, he also served as the Portman Critic at the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Architecture.

His ongoing research project, the Timber City Initiative (, examines the application of emerging structural wood fiber technologies to the construction of global cities. Mr. Organschi has written and lectured extensively on the carbon storage benefits of biogenic material substitution in urban building. He is a co-author of the upcoming book Carbon: A Field Manual For Building Designers and the scientific paper “Buildings as a Global Carbon Sink” published in the journal Nature Sustainability in January 2020.

In addition to features in numerous publications, Gray Organschi Architecture was recognized by the Architectural League of New York as an Emerging Voice in Architecture and has received American Architecture Awards for the Storage Barn in Washington, CT, the Common Ground High School in New Haven, and the Ecological Living Module at the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan.  In 2012, Mr. Organschi and his partner Elizabeth Gray were honored for their work with an Arts and Letters Award in Architecture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

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