Diego Fernando Penaloza Corredor
A timber building is Pandora’s Box
My name is Diego Peñaloza, and I am a researcher. I normally study climate impacts from bio-based building materials, and I write my stories in a very scientific way. But just this time, let me spice it up with a bit of fiction.
I am one of a legion of environmentalist superheroes. Day and night I fight against evil super villains such as climate change and its minions, pesky greenhouse gas emissions. One of my superpowers is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), a tool that you can use to calculate environmental impacts from products, exposing those products that are helping super villains too much. By analyzing the whole life cycle of these products, we make sure that no greenhouse gas emission escapes our watch.
Just like every other superpower, LCA has its weaknesses. One of them is that it is quite time static, so if a product emits greenhouse gases in the past, present or future; LCA does not notice the difference, while the environment does. Think about the boreal forests in Sweden, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for eighty years to produce biomass. Then sawmills use this biomass and store it in wood materials. When this wood is used to make buildings that stand for more than fifty years, they have opened Pandora’s Box for LCA.
I am trying to solve this by doing a PhD, as with my research I am trying to use a novel approach to upgrade my LCA weapon, so time travel would not be a weakness to the legion anymore. My upgraded weapon, “Dynamic LCA”, could help us see climate impacts from wooden buildings throughout the space-time continuum, so we can watch the past, present and future of climate impacts at the same time. And by introducing boreal forest growth models under different perspectives, we will also see what occurs in the space we live in. We will not protect the Earth; we will protect the space-time continuum.
I obtained my powers back when I was in high school, when I became an environmentalist and shaped my career from the beginning. My academic background starts with a bachelor degree in Environmental Engineering from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Bucaramanga (Colombia), my home town. After some years working in fields like environmental management and sanitary solutions for small towns, I moved to Gothenburg in 2009 to study an MSc in Industrial Ecology at Chalmers University of Technology. After months working with Husqvarna AB, the company where I did my master’s thesis, I landed a PhD position at SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden in Stockholm, supervised at KTH. In 2015 I obtained a Licentiate of Technology degree in Building Materials, and after this I started working part-time at KTH under the research project EnWoBio, a bio-based building materials laboratory. My work is part of WP5, which aims to provide strategic input for the development sustainable bio-based building solutions. If everything goes according to plan, I will finish my PhD in October 2017.