[ 5 ] A Building Like a Pig

Buildings, even the most efficient, are energy pigs. Since 1950, annual energy use in US buildings has risen 400% from 10 quadrillion Btus to 40 quadrillion Btus.

BB Energy Pig

Collectively in the United States, buildings account for 72% of electric consumption, 40% of raw material use, 14% potable water use, 39% of energy use, 30% of waste output, and 38% of CO2 emissions.  The notion of designing a building like a tree is a good metaphor because trees, like buildings, are singular objects poised like hubs at the confluence of myriad systems.  However the transition between the energy streams of the biosphere and the waste streams of the anthroposphere make a more robust and possibly less poetic metaphor necessary in the pursuit of a cohesive strategy.  Instead then, of turning an energy pig into a tree, is it possible to turn an energy pig into an industrial pig? 

Despite the well documented horrors of industrial animal farming, 100% of an industrially farmed pig is used and there is no waste.  Zero waste is not a pleasant metaphor but rather an economic necessity that has bred surprisingly inventive means to use every part of the animal.  The industrial pig can be divided like this:

  • Meat: 52.1% (Bacon: 15%) BB 185 Products
  • Bones: 15%
  • Internal Organs: 13.6%
  • Miscellaneous: 6.3%
  • Blood: 5.3%
  • Fat: 5.3%
  • Skin: 2.9%

The following is a list of 40 out of 185 of the uses- from Bullets to insulin to cork and crayons- things we don’t usually associate with pigs and though in some ways this list is disturbing, the inventiveness and persistence to find uses for what at one time were wastes, is worthy of emulation.

  1. Chemical Weapons Testing: Because of the pig’s similarity to human tissue
  2. Ice Cream: Gelatin regulates sugar crystallization and slows down the melting process
  3. Fertilizer: Made from processed pig hair
  4. Low Fat Butter: Gelatin used for texture
  5. Beer: Gelatin used as a clarifying agent
  6. Fabric Softener: Fatty acids from bone fat give color
  7. Paint Brush: Made from pig hair
  8. Fruit Juice: Gelatin absorbs cloudy elements
  9. Shampoo: Fatty acids from bone fat are used to give pearl-like appearance
  10. Candle: Fatty acids from bone fat are used to stiffen the wax and raise melting point
  11. Bread: Protein from pig hair is used to soften dough
  12. Bullet: Bone gelatin used to help transport the gunpowder or cordite into the casing
  13. Medicine Tablets: Gelatin used to harden shell
  14. Washing Powder: Fatty acids from bone fat harden the substance
  15. Paint: Fatty acids from bone fat increase gloss
  16. Tambourine: Made from pig’s bladder
  17. Wine: Gelatin used as a clarifying agent
  18. Paper: Bone Gelatin used to improve stiffness and reduce moisture
  19. Heparin: Used to stop formation of blood clots (taken from mucus in intestine)
  20. Soap: Fatty acids from bone fat act as hardening agent and give color
  21. Corks: Bone gelatin used as binder
  22. Insulin: Taken from pancreas (closest to human in chemical structure)
  23. Yogurt: Pig bone calcium is used in some yogurts
  24. Cigarettes: Hemoglobin from blood used in cigarette filters to create an artificial lung
  25. Photographic Film: Bone gelatin acts as a bonding agent on the film sheet
  26. Dog Food Treat: Hemoglobin used as red coloring agent
  27. Photodynamic Therapy: Hemoglobin used in drug to treat retina decay
  28. Moisturizers: Fatty acids from bone fat are used
  29. Dog Snack: Deep fried pig snout
  30. Crayons: Fatty acids from bone fat act as hardening agent
  31. Shoes: Bone glue used to improve texture and quality of leather
  32. Train Brakes: Bone ash used in production
  33. Toothpaste: Glycerine from bone fat is used to give toothpaste texture
  34. Hide Glue: Glue derived from collagen
  35. Face Mask: With collagen to help reduce wrinkles and lines
  36. Alternative Energy: Waste products used as fuel to produce electricity
  37. Energy Bar: Treated collagen is a cheap source of protein
  38. Cream Cheese: Gelatin used to make it stable
  39. Whipped Cream: Gelatin gives texture
  40. Sweets: Porcine gelatin used as a binding agent and texturizer

BB 15%

The way buildings currently use resources is akin to only raising a pig for the bacon and throwing the rest away.  What are the exergenic values of building wastes and is harvesting the energy surpluses economically viable?  How can buildings move beyond bacon?







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