The building sector is responsible for well over half of the world's extraction and consumption of carbon-based material and hydrocarbon energy.
Carbon flows through terrestrial space, form, and time along a myriad of pathways - biological, chemical, geological - insinuating its particular chemistries into every process we undertake as designers, makers, and builders. It accretes over geological epochs deep in lithospheric strata and, at notably faster rates, accumulates across continental forests. These deposits of global carbon form the ore and the fiber of building construction.
We mine and harvest that material, then transport it into factories and process it into building products. Throughout this process, especially in the extraction of raw material, we may change the source landscapes irrevocably. After the products are manufactured, we transport them again to construction sites where they are assembled into buildings, which demand ongoing maintenance and repair. Finally, we choose to dismantle or demolish the building, transport the demolition waste into waste management facilities, burn it for energy, or hopefully in the future, try to reuse and recycle the materials as much as possible.
As world population growth accelerates, and burgeoning global populations are forced to migrate in increasing numbers to cities, the building sector's demand for raw material and energy for new construction will further tax critical, finite resources and - if our current approach remains unchecked - will continue to layer a geological stratum's worth of waste across the planet.