Chicago, Illinois, United States
A buildable prototype for a carbon-free future
At COP26, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, SOM unveiled Urban Sequoia —a concept for buildings and their urban context to absorb carbon at an unprecedented rate. SOM has developed the first step toward achieving this goal on a broad scale, with a prototype for a high-rise building that can be built today.
The need to transform the built environment is clear. The building sector generates nearly 40 percent of all global carbon emissions. As urban populations continue to grow in the coming decades, studies have predicted that another 230 billion square meters of new building stock will be needed by 2060.
The central proposition of Urban Sequoia is that the built environment can absorb carbon. SOM’s proposal transforms buildings into solutions—radically rethinking how buildings and cities are designed and constructed. It is a viable solution that could have a far-reaching impact, with the potential to create a circular economy that absorbs carbon.
Imagine a world where a building helps to heal the planet. We developed our idea so that it could be applied and adapted to meet the needs of any city, with the potential for positive impact at any building scale.