News

News Brief

Electric outlets must be placed by parking spaces and combustion-based appliances to allow for easy conversions.

July 8, 2020

Final results for the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code were recently released and will be published for cities and towns to adopt this fall.

The updated code is estimated to improve efficiency in both residential and commercial buildings by at least 10%, according to the New Buildings Institute. For commercial buildings,... Read more

Blog Post

Innovative technologies and practices can incite fear of unknown risks. But are those fears grounded in reality?

July 8, 2020

Editor’s Note: Guest blogger Nicole DeNamur owns Sustainable Strategies, a consulting firm that helps companies manage sustainable innovation by applying a legal and risk-management lens to innovative projects. Prior to launching Sustainable Strategies, Nicole practiced construction and insurance coverage law in Seattle for more than a decade.... Read more

News Brief

From dilution to humidity control, ASHRAE offers guidance on how to reduce the spread of aerosolized pathogens in buildings.

July 8, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASHRAE has released a position paper on managing the risk of spreading infectious disease pathogens through HVAC systems. The organization recommends a number of strategies, ranked by evidence level, including these “A-level” actions:

Consider designs that “promote cleaner airflow... Read more

News Analysis

Private consultants, along with LEED, WELL, and AIA are all offering strategies for re-occupying buildings without unduly compromising occupant health.

July 7, 2020

Wary of returning to your usual workplace? You’re not alone. Zoom might be a strain, and the home office might not provide the work–life balance you need, but to many the alternative seems scary—even unthinkable. It would be crazy for people to return to offices and other workplaces without some kind of reassurance that the... Read more

News Brief

New to creating a sustainability plan for an AIA agreement? Latest guidance references COTE TOP Ten metrics, ASHRAE 209, among others.

July 7, 2020

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), drafter of the most widely used design contracts, recently updated its Guide for Sustainable Projects (D503) and added a new contract for sustainability consultants working on conventional builds: Sustainability Consultant Scope of Services (C204). Together, these updates ensure that: any project (... Read more

News Analysis

Until recently, there was only one game in town when it came to net-zero energy and carbon. Now there are several certifications.

July 7, 2020

For some time now, the ultimate goal for building sustainability, at least with regard to energy and carbon, has been the achievement of net-zero energy (NZE). The original definition is fairly well known and understood—that of producing all of the building’s annual energy needs with onsite renewable energy; but that original definition, which... Read more

News Brief

A group of structural engineers has released a plan to eliminate the embodied carbon of concrete, steel, and wood within 30 years.

July 7, 2020

The building industry could achieve net-zero embodied carbon of structural materials by 2050, according to a working group of the Structural Engineering Institute. Through the use of carbon sequestration, this is possible even without purchasing carbon offsets, claims a white paper on the group’s findings.

... Read more

Feature Article

Lots of manufacturers call their products “green,” but are they? Here's our guide to the high-performance attributes that matter.

July 7, 2020

When BuildingGreen started publication in 1992, simply finding building products designed with environmental benefits in mind was a big challenge. We responded to that challenge in the late 1990s by developing GreenSpec, a guide to the industry’s top green building products. In the years since, we’ve seen rapid advances in green building... Read more

News Brief

Significant challenges prevent the great majority of existing NYC multifamily buildings from being electrified, but these 480 buildings are prime candidates.

July 7, 2020

While some small buildings have taken to electrification retrofits, large multifamily buildings have been a harder nut to crack. Seeing “virtually no progress in this sector” in New York City, the Urban Green Council studied the reasons why and released a report detailing the existing multifamily building type that could... Read more

News Brief

Stimulating the building industry is crucial to getting out of a recession, but let’s do it right, says the Canada Green Building Council.

July 7, 2020

Almost half the households in Canada have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, catalyzing a severe recession that will be hard to get out of. Typically, infrastructure and building projects create vital jobs that aid recovery, but the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) is calling on the Canadian federal government to... Read more

News Brief

The structure and envelope have the most up-front embodied carbon, but replacement cycles may make interiors more important than previously thought.

July 7, 2020

Conventional wisdom tells us that the structure of a building, and secondarily the envelope components, are the main considerations when measuring embodied carbon—the upfront emissions caused by production of building materials. Yet a new study from architecture and design firm Hawley Peterson Snyder suggests interior products... Read more

Product Guide

July 1, 2020

Medium-density fiberboard and particleboard are non-structural panels manufactured from sawmill waste that is typically held together with phenol formaldehyde (PF), melamine formaldehyde (MF), or urea formaldehyde (UF), resins. Formaldehyde-free methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) resins are also used.

Particleboard is made from... Read more

Webcast

June 11, 2020

Whole-building life-cycle assessment (WBLCA) can help project teams reduce embodied carbon as well as many other environmental impacts of building materials. And it’s incentivized in LEED and other rating systems. But how do you do it? In this course, we’ll review the basics of WBLCA and then look in-depth at two software tools for conducting... Read more

Webcast

June 9, 2020

Dr. Gail Brager, Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley, discusses the value of (mostly thermal) variability in terms of human experience, and implications for design of the built environment.

Gail begins with a visual argument for why variability is important, followed by some research examples showing evidence of the positive and... Read more

News Brief

A team entirely new to Living Building Challenge successfully molded what is usually a water-intensive production facility to meet the highest of performance standards.

June 8, 2020

The International Living Future Institute recently certified the largest Living Building yet—the Alexander Valley Silver Oak Winery in California. This 109,000-ft2 facility consists of tasting rooms, a wine cellar, and production facilities, making it a relatively complicated project compared to others that have pursued the Living Building... Read more

Product Review

Renewable energy systems, particularly photovoltaic (PV) panels, have come under attack for using toxic materials and having a high carbon footprint. The truth is more complicated.

June 8, 2020

As planet temperatures continue to rise, reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption is now our biggest challenge. Photovoltaic (PV) energy is often held up as our future.

Though PV already has a long history of solid performance, articles claiming PV is actually a net producer of carbon have been circulating for years. Other... Read more

Feature Article

Take a plain old building and turn it into something remarkable, and you’ll also help save the planet.

June 8, 2020

Older buildings—especially those from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s—need our help. Many leave something to be desired in terms of aesthetics and comfort. But the truth is that they are part of the urban and suburban fabric now, and they aren’t going anywhere. As tempting as it might seem to tear them all down and replace them with... Read more

News Brief

ASTM C1866 will make it easier to specify low-embodied-carbon recycled ground glass as a supplementary cementitious material.

June 8, 2020

Ground glass can be a low-global-warming-potential replacement for Portland cement, but using it on a project has been difficult because there has been no standard way to specify the material. ASTM has published ASTM C1866, Standard Specification for Recycled Ground-Glass Pozzolan for Use in Concrete. ASTM C1866 will make it... Read more

News Analysis

From handwashing signage to humidification, here’s how the building industry can help combat the spread of infectious disease.

June 8, 2020

Lactation rooms, circadian lighting, nutritious food, and inviting stairways: through Fitwel and WELL, these have become more common ways to promote wellness through building design and operations. But what do these certifications have to say about illness? And specifically, about stopping the spread of COVID-19?

Fitwel:... Read more

Op-Ed

How will the AEC industry—what we build and how we work—change post-pandemic? We asked leading lights in the green building world.

June 8, 2020

Downtown Chicago, like so many downtowns, has been largely empty to prevent the spread of Covid-19—followed more recently by protests and opportunistic looting (Central Camera, visible in this image, was badly damaged).

Photo: Raed Mansour. License: CC BY 2.0.

We queried some big-picture thinkers, and we got... Read more