‘The Smile’ is a collaboration of the American Hardwood Export Council, Alison Brooks Architects, Arup and the London Design Festival. It is a cross-laminated tulipwood structure in the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground of the Chelsea College of Arts from 17 September until 12 October. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) quantifies the environmental impacts of ‘The Smile’ covering all processes from extraction of wood and other raw materials, transport of these materials to processing location, all manufacturing steps, and delivery of all components to the site at Chelsea (including the main structure and additional elements such as displays and handrails) but excluding installation.
‘The Smile’ is made predominantly in tulipwood, one of the most abundant American hardwoods with forest volume of over 1000 million m3, 7% of the total U.S. hardwood resource. Every year, the volume of tulipwood in U.S. forests grows on average by 32 million m3, of which only 13 million m3 is harvested. This means the volume standing in U.S. hardwood forests expands by 19 million m3 every year. It takes less than five minutes for forest growth to replace the tulipwood used to manufacture ‘The Smile’.
‘The Smile’ is better than carbon neutral at point of delivery to the site at the Chelsea College of Arts. Emissions of 91.9 MT CO2 eq. are offset by 25.8 MT CO2 eq. due to burning of wood offcuts (which substituted for fossil fuel) at the factories in Germany, Italy and the UK where the various components of ‘The Smile’ were manufactured, and by 71.6 MT CO2 eq. of carbon stored in the wood in the finished design. In addition to Global Warming Potential (or ‘carbon footprint’), the LCA provides data against five other environmental impact categories of particular relevance to wood products and for which there is broad scientific agreement on methodology.
The LCA of ‘The Smile’ draws on a two-year study, commissioned by AHEC and undertaken by PE International (now Thinkstep), to assess environmental impacts linked to delivery of U.S. hardwood into world markets. Information from the U.S. hardwood LCA is combined with the latest U.S. government forest inventory data and information gathered during manufacturing in Europe. It is prepared using Thinkstep’s ‘GABI’ life cycle software.
Alison Brooks Architects