Energy consumption is a global strategic issue. With more than 50% of the human population living in growing urban areas, improving building-energy efficiency is a major challenge. The building sector accounts for approximately 40% of the world’s energy consumption and associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US building sector uses approximately 40% of the primary energy. Fossil fuels account for 75% of this energy, largely due to the energy required during construction phases.
Comparable to the US, Brazil’s building sector accounts for 45% of the national energy consumption. However, the challenges on the road to a sustainable built environment are different for both countries due to their social-economical context. For example, the Brazilian per-capita income is 1/5 of the USA. Additionally, Brazil is facing the challenge of the rising megacities which experience explosive growth and income disparity. Sustainable, material-intensive approaches and technologies developed for the North cannot be successful in Brazil. Therefore, we seek to build a collaborative program around affordable, sustainable megacity infrastructure that will focus on innovative, material-efficient strategies for the design of an urban environment, informed by its social-economic context. If successful, these strategies will reduce energy consumption and C02 emissions, and also improve housing and living conditions in the megacity.
The objectives of this project are (i) to reinforce existing endeavors that deepen the intellectual engagement between Princeton and São Paulo University,  (ii) to progress the existing body of knowledge on affordable sustainable construction and (iii) to prepare for continued collaborative teaching and research beyond this grant.