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Jan 9

zoë

ZOË

The natural materials cycle serves as a role model for the pre-fabricated building blocks that we construct using wood, plant fibers and clay. We aim to create more healthy living spaces and build up to 8-story tall buildings with a sustainable construction method. zoë is more than a project: it is a radical new way to think about, produce and use buildings.

zoë is more than a product. It is a radically new way to conceive, to produce and to use buildings. The natural materials cycle serves as a role model for the pre-fabricated building blocks that we construct using wood, plant fibers and clay. We advocate for the adoption of this cycle in the construction industry. This new cyclical building model goes further than any concept of sustainability: our goal is a positive footprint – eco-effectiveness instead of efficiency.

zoë is intelligent: Our prefabricated module for external walls and roofs can be used for construction of up to eight stories. Due to the highly effective jointing of the natural building materials wood, straw and clay, the complex physical and structural requirements can be met elegantly with the zoë solution.

zoë is healthy: Construction with zoë guarantees warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer, balances moisture levels, binds odors, shields electromagnetic radiation and insulates sound. Interior clay plasters provide for a natural aesthetic effect.

zoë is environmentally friendly: The “gray” energy required to produce zoë elements is minimal. All materials used in the process can easily be recycled in a natural material cycle. The plant fibers used as thermal insulation absorb and store large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Solar heat and wall heating or cooling can be integrated invisibly.

zoë is economical: The use of favorable raw materials, serial semi-finished products and an innovative manufacturing process mean that a zoë system is not more expensive than conventional construction methods.

zoë is effective: Planning and building with zoë is as simple and logical as the module itself. We have optimized the entire process so that the highest standards of living quality and sustainability no longer contradict profitability.

zoë is measurable: zoë’s positive properties can also be expressed quantitatively. Within the framework of a Climate-KIC research project, we simulated and tested the modules with partners from ETH Zurich. zoë is a leader in thermal insulation, sound insulation, fire safety and ecology.

What moves us

Product innovation
– Circular supplies: The input materials are bio-based (reed, timber) or fully recyclable (clay).
– Resource recovery: We use agricultural waste that would otherwise decompose and free CO2.
– Product life extension: The product can easily be repaired or reassembled.
– Take-back guarantee of the product by the producer at the end of the life cycle.

Process innovation
– Simple and smart design.
– Aligned with the user’s genuine needs and values.
– Cost reductions in every step of the supply chain, beginning with the excavation of the resources all the way up to the dismantling of the modules.
– Cooperative design of the partnership with producers, distributors and clients.

The zoë Community

Join our network of experts in the fields of sustainable construction, environmental education and communication! We will be discussing basic issues and developing practical solutions for zoë in the differencelab online-forum (from mid-January on) and at regular events and workshops. There is a lively and intensive dialogue with associations like baubioswiss, IG Lehm and the recently founded network for building with straw “stroh+paille+paglia“.

What we have already

– A prototype
– A commission for a small pilot project
– A concept for trade fair show pavilion
– A network with similar projects in other parts of Switzerland
– The necessary investment to found the company (GmbH)
-The support of family and friends, excitement and many ideas

What we are working on

– Communication strategy and media
– Producers’ and suppliers’ network
– Pilot project and trade fair show project
– Company founding (in process)

Background

The Sustainability Challenge

The houses built today are the future – the future waste. When it comes to the end of their life, these houses are destroyed. But the materials that they were constructed from are not reused to build new houses. According to economic logic, resource consumption and waste should be minimized. But this is yet to be seen in the construction market.

On the contrary: What is happening at the very end of a building’s “life” is symptomatic for the whole life cycle. Operating building is also a huge energy consumer – and most of this energy is still made from fossil fuels.

In constructing and operating our buildings, we take, make, use and waste as if there were no tomorrow. This one-way manufacturing model dates from the industrial revolution. We call it the cradle to grave model.

To keep this model running, we have to continuously invest tremendous amounts of resources. And as a result we created and still create fantastic amounts of waste, pollution and CO2.

It is time for a change.

In figures

A close look at global material flows reveals the immense resource use: About 50% of the raw materials used worldwide are consumed by the construction sector. This reaches 80% for mineral raw materials. A similar picture appears if we take a look at energy use.

The construction sector accounts for 40% of the energy consumption in the European Union, accompanied by environmental effects such as CO2 emissions (around 35-45% of global CO2- emissions). These consequences are further increased by other effects of construction, like waste and water consumption.

The health challenge

We as a global community have never spent more money for building and housing than we do today. Nevertheless, many of us prefer living in the houses of the past. Unfortunately, we know that being inside a building today is often less healthy than staying outside. The use of industrial building materials has reduced aesthetics. The sensation of feeling really at home is becoming more and more rare.

The affordability challenge

Solutions for building healthier and more sustainably do exist. But because they are more expensive than the mainstream building methods, they generally remain reserved for the more privileged and restricted to the single family home construction market.

Who are we?

Thomas Dimov

A team of construction, sustainability and services experts stands behind zero carbon building element and the zoë project. Leading research institutions and environmental organisations are our partners. Not just the technically possible, but a truly human and eco-friendly architecture is our goal.

Sustainability in construction refers to comprehensive quality. Good design is a product of achieving precisely the programmatic goals, being responsible for the economic, ecologic and social context and being aware of the needs of all the stakeholders involved in the design process.

For many years, we have maintained the ambition to develop a truly sustainable construction system. This allowed us to create a simple and mature product for a wide range of applications in zoë.

Thomas Dimov Dipl. Arch. ETH, Founder and CEO of zoë – circular building, Zurich

Andrea Frangi, Professor of Wood Construction, Institute of Statics and Construction, ETH Zürich

Guillaume Habert, Professor of Sustainable Building, Institute for Construction- and Infrastructure-Management, ETH Zürich

Arnaud Evrard, VERNAtec, Researcher at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium)

Markus Zimmermann, IHT Rafz Ingenieurholzbau + Holzbautechnik GmbH

Marc Hübner, Mechanical Engineer, Clay construction entrepreneur

Andreas Reimann, Architect and former head of ETH’s material collection

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Where we need your support

  • We are looking for volunteers with programming and/or graphic skills to help us with the webpage and with other communication media.
  • Do you have knowledge in sustainable financial management, bookkeeping and controlling? We would like to learn from you in a training session.
  • Do you know of clients that could be interested in realizing a building with zoë, or people we should talk to in this regard? We are looking for support in sourcing.
  • Do you know of others working on similar projects? We are also interested in projects in other countries outside of Switzerland.
  • Would you like to help in the building up of the production site?
  • Would you like to become a responsible part of one of the most exciting businesses in the world of construction? We are seeking bright talents with entrepreneurial spirit and motivation.

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