News Brief

AIA Upjohn Awards Support Climate Action

The American Institute of Architects has chosen five sustainability research projects to fund through its Upjohn Research Initiative.

mycelium of an oyster mushroom

One of the Upjohn Awards went to a project aiming to create structural materials out of mycelium.

Photo: Tobi Kellne. License: CC BY 3.0.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced five research projects that will receive funding through the Upjohn Research Initiative. All of this year’s projects are designed to promote climate action.

Architects and Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings (GEBs): The Role of the Profession in the Emerging Field of GEBs

Grid-interactive efficient buildings, or GEBs, can reduce demand or contribute electricity to the grid during peak usage times, when energy generation is most needed; this mitigates the need for utilities to fire up older, dirtier “peaker plants.” This project will result in an online toolkit for architects to aid in design of GEBs.

From Waste to Biodegradable Structures with Local Fungi Species

Can we spawn biodegradable structural materials? This project will test the limits of mycelium by using it to create load-bearing elements in two different ways. MycoCreateII will be a cable-based structure built entirely out of mycelium composites, and MycoPrint will be a 3D-printed shell structure using mycelium grown on paper waste.

The Future of Green Infrastructure: Measuring and Designing the Built Environment for Pedestrian and Bicycle Activities in Dallas-Fort Worth

Human-powered mobility is vital to sustainability for many reasons, including reduced carbon emissions from driving. This project will produce prototypes and strategies for converting existing infrastructure into green infrastructure conducive to cycling and walking. The researchers hope their work will become a decision-making tool for local building professionals and officials.

Priority Green for Community Benefit: A Framework for Tailoring Entitlement Benefits to Neighborhood-specific Priorities Around Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation, and Equity

Climate change is a health issue, and its impacts—like heat islands, flooding, and sea-level rise—will manifest at a hyperlocal level. This project, driven by a series of charettes, will produce a framework for analyzing public health and environmental priorities at the neighborhood scale. Local officials can use the framework to help identify each neighborhood’s health threats when developing policies and climate action plans for the entire community.

Synergies between Ultra-Low-Energy Buildings, Microgrids, and Direct Current

High-performing buildings like Passive House structures are rare; in order to address climate change, we need to offer energy solutions at a larger scale, especially for residential construction. The researchers on this project will model a microgrid-connected city block in Milwaukee comprising 20 to 30 residential buildings using efficient direct-current (DC) electricity. They will use their findings to develop a guide for architects on how to create similar blocks.

For more information:

The American Institute of Architects


Published April 4, 2022

Melton, P. (2022, March 18). AIA Upjohn Awards Support Climate Action. Retrieved from

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