The world of fungi has attracted a lot of interest and seems to be becoming very fashionable of late. A new exhibition at Somerset House in London, for example, is dedicated to “the remarkable mushroom.” No surprise: We’re being promised that mushrooms may be the key to a sustainable future in fields as diverse as fashion , toxic spill clean-ups, mental health , and construction . It’s in this last field that my own interests lie. Climate change is the fundamental design problem of our time: buildings are hugely complicit in the crisis. Together, buildings and construction contribute 39% of the world’s carbon footprint. Energy used to heat, cool, and light buildings accounts for 28% of these emissions: households are the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases since 2015. The remaining 11% of buildings’ carbon emissions consists of those associated with construction and building materials. The UK construction industry, for example, uses around 400 million tonnes (about 440 million U.S. tons) of materials each year, and approximately 100 million tonnes (about 110 million U.S. tons) become waste. Cement alone is responsible for a whopping 8% of global CO₂ emissions. Compare this to the much maligned global aviation industry, which emits […]

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