Arch + Eng, Design

Carbon Is Not the Enemy

A recent article by Bill McDonough, a student of Fuller’s work, in Nature gives us a new lexicon to talk about carbon. He makes distinctions between “durable,” “living,” and “fugitive” carbon. Durable carbon is stored long-term in building materials, plastics, and infrastructure and, according to McDonough, should always be designed for reuse. Living carbon is in the food we eat, the soil it grows from, and a molecular building block in all living things including us. Finally, fugitive carbon has escaped either the durable or living carbon cycles, landing in undesirable ways, such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and plastic in the ocean.