34 kg of CO2 to make a book (Book Review)

At Construmat this year, the international building and construction trade fair held in Barcelona every two years, the Government of Catalonia presented their project "34 kg of CO2", along side Casa Barcelona. 34 kg is the exact quantity of CO2 that was emitted in order to make one of the book with the same title. So the questions the project addresses are: If 1.050 grams of paper produce 34 kg of CO2, how much does my car emit? Or my home? And how can we build and construct in a more sustainable manner?What 34 kg of CO2 is all about

Written by Toni Solanas, Dani Calatayud and Coque Claret, the book 34 kg of CO2 addresses the causes of climate change as one of the main threats to the planet's health. Looking at ways to measure and reduce our day to day impact on the environment, Life Cycle Analysis and ecological footprint calculations have been used to measure to what level our lifestyles affect the planet and the environment we live in. For the book, 46 experts from the fields of architecture, biology, economy and other disciplines have worked together to visualise our impact on the planet and to come up with creative proposals to create a different culture, for a more sustainable society.

The book starts with the question: Where do we come from? This chapter explains everything from the Big bang to the Industrial revolution and a history of the occupation of land. The next section is about who we are. It addresses what sustainable and unsustainable mean, and talks about economy versus ecology. The book shows how unsustainablility can be measured by giving examples of Life Cycle Analysis of construction material. A traditional clay brick for example emits 184 kg of CO2; 278 m2 of territory, 1390 kg of biomass, and 19,7 litres of fuel during its life. Great visuals show the results of CO2 emissions for food and construction material, transport modes, different cities and countries.

How the 34 kg of CO2 each book emits have been measured

The ecological footprint of the book has been measured under the criteria of Rees and Wackernagel. Direct impact such as printing and bookbinding, indirect impacts related to the paper and the functioning of the printing press, as well as those tasks that had to do with creating the content for the book have been taken into account in order to calculate its CO2 emissions. The trees felled have also been taken into account, due to the fact that they stop taking CO2 out of the atmosphere for the next 70 years (until new trees have grown), as well as the manufacturing of the paper, including the air conditioning of the factory and the proportional manufacturing of the machines involved. Transport of materials played a big role as well as all the energy consumed by the people who worked on the book: part of their diet, transport, living, offices, etc. The 34 kg don't include the transportation after the manufacturing, because it depends where it is being used afterwards. For example, if it arrives in Seville, 0,46 kg need to be added, but if it would be read in New York, 12,78 kg would have to be added. Here is the breakdown of the 34 kg:

-Printing and binding: 36,7%
-Wood extraction and paper production: 28,7%
-Design and writing of the book: 29,6
-Transport of the paper to the printer's: 5%

The 119 gram paper used to make the 2000 copies of the book came from sustainably managed wood sources and the card cover is 300 gram recycled card.

Last but not least the book gives solutions for a more sustainable way of constructing and living, such as bioarchitecture, eco-cities and systems. The eco-neighbourhoods Vauban in Freiburg (Germany), Viikki in Helsinki (Finland) and the Anell Verd in Spain are just a few of the example featured in the book.

All in all a great book, full of graphs and figures, with plenty of interviews by experts and citizens with ideas. It really gives a good insight into the hidden costs of things. Unfortunately, the book 34 kg of CO2 is currently only available in Catalan. You can contact the Government for a free copy. Via ::Construmat 09 ::Environment and Housing Department of the Government of Catalonia

Tags: Architecture | Book Reviews | Books | Carbon Emissions | Carbon Footprint | Construction | Environmental Footprint | Green Stats | Spain

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