Integrating Natural Building Materials into Mainstream Construction

The built environment must meet the highest demands of human habitation, resource management, and community enrichment. To achieve these goals, modern built environments should adopt a restorative environmental design with natural building materials that are locally available, minimally processed, and waste-free.  When implemented in a hybrid manner, natural materials offer excellent thermal and hygrothermal properties that result in passive cooling and solar heating.  Despite their advantages, natural materials still face challenges for comprehensive implementation. First, their technical data vary significantly, making it challenging to quantify their true performance for different climate and environmental contexts. Second, people mistakenly perceive these materials as low-tech and poor in their performance. Lastly, building codes and standards do not comprehensively represent these materials worldwide.

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Aug 28 2020


10:00 am - 11:00 am


Breakout Sessions


Dance Room
Lola Ben-Alon


Lola Ben-Alon
(412) 294-3206


  • Lola Ben-Alon
    Lola Ben-Alon

    Lola Ben-Alon is an engineer, curator, and Ph.D. candidate at the at the
    Architecture, Engineering and Construction Management (AECM) Program at Carnegie
    Mellon University. She specializes in socially and environmentally sustainable building
    practices, natural building materials, and engineering-architecture collaborations.
    She has earned her BS in Structural Engineering and MS in Construction Management, both
    cum laude, from the Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the Technion, Israel
    Institute of Technology. Her doctoral research deals with Life Cycle Assessments (LCA),
    perception, and building policy of earthen construction.
    Parallel to her engineering background, Lola has earned a diploma in Critical and Curatorial
    Studies at the Technion, where she has co-founded art.espionage, the Experimental Art and
    Architecture Lab. She has exhibited various interactive urban interventions, public art, and
    performance art in museums and galleries around the world, including the Shanghai Biennale
    Gallery and Tel-Aviv Art Museum. She has also served as a curator and content developer at
    the Madatech, Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space.
    Lola is passionate about fostering connections between academia and community, by
    promoting social engagement in the production of the built environment. She is the academic
    advisor of the TERRA Collaborative, an all-women organization that provides hands-on
    natural building training for women and youth in developing communities. Through sharing
    skills and knowledge that promote healthy and affordable living environments, Lola hopes to
    diversify the building industry and to catalyze new intersections and creative dialogues among
    the various disciplines of architecture, engineering, art, and sociology.

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