Architect Noah Luken ’93 Returns to Discuss Carbon Impact Tools

Architect, alum and current parent Noah Luken ’93 brought his expertise to fellow classmate and Upper School Visual Arts and Graphic Design teacher Travis Chandler’s ’93 Architecture class this week. In this class, students receive a foundation of architectural concepts, create 3D models of floor plans and design their own building. Luken’s visit was well-timed as students are beginning this process and received advice on some eco-friendly design options.

Luken noted the architecture industry is working hard to minimize the carbon footprint of buildings. Specifically, the American Institute of Architects has committed to making all new buildings carbon neutral by the year 2030. To accomplish this, one must look at how much carbon is involved in the creation of the building—which is more complicated than one might think.

Luken explained that not only do construction materials themselves emit carbon, but the manipulation of those materials and the actual use of the building (i.e., running HVAC, etc.) also contribute to a building’s carbon footprint.

To figure out the true carbon cost of making a building, Luken uses tools such as cove.tool to see the real impact of materials selected based on a project’s budget. For example, he explained that concrete is a major culprit of the carbon problem, and firms are looking more toward timber as a base material, as it is much more carbon-safe.

After Luken’s presentation, students asked him about the impact of certain materials and how to decide what’s best for their own building projects.

“One big takeaway from today: Concrete is bad,” Luken said. “Almost anything else you do is going to be better.”

When alumni return to campus, students are able to see how far a Parker education can take them, while also learning valuable information about a variety of career pathways.

“My students learned so much from his presentation, and we are in great shape to kick off our next project thanks to the incredibly helpful information he shared,” Chandler said. “Nothing is quite as valuable for those learning a new skill as advice from people with real-world experience, and that’s exactly what he was able to provide. We loved having him come visit us, and we are truly grateful that Noah has agreed to do it again next semester.”

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.