Removing and storing carbon in the built environment. Green and grey solutions


doi.org/ 10.19229/978-88-5509-446-7/792022


carbon storage, carbon neutrality, carbon capture, embodied carbon, urban redevelopment


This paper investigates the potential of the combined use of ‘green’ and ‘grey’ solutions for removing and storing carbon in the interventions to regenerate the building stock, as relates to the goal, dictated by European policies, of halving carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The issue is of great scientific importance in light of the European and national strategies and policies illustrated in the Next Generation UE Plan and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Piano Nazionale di Ripresa e Resilienza – PNRR). In particular, the paper illustrates the developments of research initiated by the Research Unit at ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome in the context of the PRIN (project of overriding national interest) ‘TECH START’ Research and of the ‘Climate-Pandemic-Proof Design’ Research, funded by ‘Sapienza’ University. This research was carried forward through the experimental application, in a public housing neighbourhood in Rome, of ‘green’ solutions (green infrastructures) and ‘grey’ solutions (CO2 absorbing and low embodied carbon materials) working in synergy, systematically assessing their impact in terms of reducing climate-altering emissions from the current state.


Architecture | Research & Experimentation

pp. 148-171


Fabrizio Tucci, Paola Altamura, Valeria Cecafosso, Marco Giampaoletti

Author(s) Biography

Fabrizio Tucci is a Full Professor of Technology of Architecture at ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome (Italy), where he is Director of the Department of Planning, Design, Technology of Architecture (PDTA), Director of the Level II Master in Environmental Technological Design, scientific responsible for 25 years of national and international projects and research. He is also Coordinator of the ‘Stati Generali della Green Economy’ in Architecture, and the International Expert Group of the Green City Network. Mob. +39 338/417.47.77 | E-mail: fabrizio.tucci@uniroma1.it

Paola Altamura, Architect and PhD, is a Researcher at the PDTA Department of ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome (Italy). She conducts research and experimentation on the ecological effectiveness of interventions on the built environment from the perspective of material resource efficiency, circularity and decarbonization, including through collaborations with BRE (UK) and ENEA. Mob. +39 340 51.34.638 | E-mail: paola.altamura@uniroma1.it

Valeria Cecafosso, Architect and PhD, is a Researcher at the PDTA Department of ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome (Italy). She carries out research activities in the field of technological, bioclimatic, energy, and environmental aspects and those of simulation and modelling, investigated through experimental design and technological consulting activities carried out both in Italy and abroad. Mob. +39 392/888.52.95 | E-mail: valeria.cecafosso@uniroma1.it

Marco Giampaoletti, Architect and PhD, is a Research Fellow at the PDTA Department of ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome (Italy), with Level II Master in Environmental Technological Design, component member in national and international projects and researches, carries out his research activity in the field of climate mitigation strategies. Mob. +39 345/387.41.78 | E-mail: marco.giampaoletti@uniroma1.it


Amiri, A., Ottelin, J. Sorvari, J. and Junnila, S. (2020), “Cities as Carbon Sinks – Classification of Wooden Buildings”, in Environmental Research Letters, vol. 15, 094076. [Online] Available at: iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aba134/pdf [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Ariluomaa, M., Ottelinb, J., Hautamäkia, R., Tuhkanenc, E. and Mänttärid, M. (2021), “Carbon sequestration and storage potential of urban green in residential yards – A case study from Helsinki”, in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, vol. 57, 126939. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2020.126939 [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Battisti, A. and Santucci, D. (eds) (2020), Activating Public Space – An Approach for Climate Change Mitigation, Technische Universität München Verlag, Monaco di Baviera.

Calvo Buendia, E., Tanabe, K., Kranjc, A., Baasansuren, J., Fukuda, M., Ngarize, S., Osako, A., Pyrozhenko, Y., Shermanau, P. and Federici, S. (2019), Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories – Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use, vol. 4, IPCC. [Online] Available at: ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/2019rf/vol4.html [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Climeworks (2020), Direct air capture: a technology to remove CO. [Online] Available at: climeworks.com/our-technology/] [Accessed 27 July 2022].

D’Olimpio, D. (2016), “The mitigation of urban air pollution”, in Technical Legislation Notebooks, n. 2, pp. 15-24 [Online] Available at: legislazionetecnica.it/system/files/prd_allegati/_/16-3/2544771/QLT02_2016_LowRes.pdf [Accessed 15 August 2022].

Global CCS Institute (2021), Global Status of CCS 2021. [Online] Available at: globalccsinstitute.com/resources/global-status-report/download/ [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Hirsch, J., Lafuente, J. J., Recourt, R., Spanner, M., Geiger, P., Haran, M., McGreal, S., Davis, P., Taltavull, P., Perez, R., Juárez, F., Martinez, A. M. and Brounen, D. (2019), Stranding Risk & Carbon – Science-based decarbonising of the EU commercial real estate sector, CRREM report n. 1, Wörgl, Austria. [Online] Available at: crrem.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CRREM-Stranding-Risk-Carbon-Science-based-decarbonising-of-the-EU-commercial-real-estate-sector.pdf [Accessed 27 July 2022].

IEA – International Environment Agency (2022), Direct Air Capture – A key technology for net zero. [Online] Available at: iea.blob.core.windows.net/assets/78633715-15c0-44e1-81df-41123c556d57/DirectAirCapture_Akeytechnologyfornetzero.pdf [Accessed 15 August 2022].

IPCC (2022), AR6 Synthesis Report – Climate Change 2022. [Online] Available at: ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-cycle [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Keenan, T. F. and Williams, C. A. (2018), “The Terrestrial Carbon Sink”, in Annual Review of Environment and Resources, vol. 43, pp. 219-243. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-102017-030204 [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Kuittinen, M., Hautamäki, R., Tuhkanen, E., Riikonen, A. and Ariluoma, M. (2021a), “Environmental Product Declarations for plants and soils – How to quantify carbon uptake in landscape design and construction?”, in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, vol. 26, pp. 1100-1116. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1007/s11367-021-01926-w [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Kuittinen, M., Zernicke, C., Slabik, S. and Hafner, A. (2021b), “How can carbon be stored in the built environment? A review of potential options”, in Architectural Science Review. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1080/00038628.2021.1896471 [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Pomponi, F., De Wolf, C. and Moncaster, A. (eds) (2018), Embodied Carbon in Buildings – Measurement, Management, and Mitigation, Springer, Berlino.

Regione Toscana (2018), Regional Environmental Air Quality Plan – Guidelines for planting specific tree species for the uptake of nitrogen dioxide, fine particulate matter and ozone. [Online] Available at: regione.toscana.it/documents/10180/4058647/Allegato+1+Linea+guida+Piantumazione+31_10_2018.pdf/c99d86e0-811d-44da-836e-adb6f255f28c [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Selosse, S. and Ricci, O. (2017), “Carbon capture and storage – Lessons from a storage potential and localization analysis”, inApplied Energy, vol. 188, pp. 32-44. [Online] Available at: doi.org/10.1016/j.apenergy.2016.11.117 [Accessed 27 July 2022].

Tucci, F. (2018),Costruire e Abitare Green – Approcci, Strategie, Sperimentazioni per una Progettazione Tecnolgica Ambientale | Green Building and DwellingApproaches, Strategies, Experimentation for an Environmental Technological Design, Altralinea Edizioni, Firenze.

UNEP – United Nations Environmental Program (2020), Emissions gap report. [Online] Available at: unep.org/emissions-gap-report-2020 [Accessed 27 July 2022].

WGBC – World Green Building Council (2019), Bringing embodied carbon upfront – Coordinated action for the building and construction sector to tackle embodied carbon. [Online] Available at: worldgbc.org/sites/default/files/WorldGBC_Bringing_Embodied_Carbon_Upfront.pdf [Accessed 27 July 2022].