News

News Analysis

The 2019 winners of AIA’s COTE Top Ten are all about education and connection to place.

April 22, 2019

There is a bittersweet irony in celebrating a sustainable design award for the renovation of a major cathedral a mere week after Notre-Dame de Paris was devastated by a fire that was started, according to initial reports, by renovation activities.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City sees about... Read more

News Brief

An ambitious new law makes progress towards NYC’s goal of 80% carbon reduction by 2050 by setting aggressive carbon emission limits for nearly all NYC buildings over 25,000 square feet.

April 19, 2019

The limits are aggressive—no one argues with that. A sweeping new law—the most ambitious in the world for any large city—forces owners of almost every large building to drastically limit carbon emissions or pay an annual fine, starting in 2024, of $268 per metric ton of CO2 over the limit. The buildings covered by the law will have to... Read more

News Brief

Timber Traceability is one group’s answer to the controversial Legal Wood pilot path.

April 2, 2019

Who’s in favor of legally sourced wood?

If you’re raising your hand, you’re not alone: illegal logging is a global scourge that destroys ecosystems and contributes to climate change. It’s carried out by organized crime, and is used to fund civil wars and terrorism. And by some estimates, as much as half the timber in the world is... Read more

Product Review

Foam glass aggregate made from post-consumer recycled glass bottles can replace both foam insulation and aggregate below grade.

April 2, 2019

Extruded polystyrene’s (XPS) high R-value and water resistance have made it the default insulation for below-grade applications, but its petroleum-based styrene chemistry, inherent flammability, and high-global-warming-potential (GWP) blowing agents make these board products less than desirable environmental choices. And although high-density... Read more

News Brief

Engineering firm Petinelli has scored LEED Zero Energy certification with its headquarters in Curitiba, Brazil.

April 2, 2019

Platinum used to be the ultimate LEED rating. Not anymore. A new program, LEED Zero, asks project teams to show a year’s worth of data proving zero impact in at least one of four categories: energy, carbon, water, or waste.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has now awarded its first LEED Zero certification, for net-zero energy, to... Read more

News Brief

The Healthy Building Network has released an extensive study detailing Asia’s chlorine production used to make PVC and other plastics.

April 2, 2019

PVC from China is some of the worst in the world, but it’s being imported into the U.S. at astounding rates. This and other interesting facts are covered in depth in a new study from the Healthy Building Network (HBN).

Chlorine is one of the most common industrial chemicals and is one of the key ingredients used to manufacture PVC,... Read more

Op-Ed

Achieving the goals of the Green New Deal will be tremendously challenging—but not impossible.

April 2, 2019

A lot is being said about the Green New Deal—a broad and intentionally vague vision laid out by New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey. This proposal for transitioning the United States to a carbon-neutral economy in ten years has already been a huge success: by spurring a lively discussion about... Read more

News Analysis

A deeper look at California’s decision to allow flame-retardant-free foam under concrete slabs

April 2, 2019

It will be a great day for health advocates, who’ve been fighting for years to eliminate toxic flame retardants from insulation: on January 1, 2020, California will begin allowing flame-retardant-free foam insulation below grade. And the recommendations that were ultimately accepted by the California Building Standards Commission came from an... Read more

April Fools

“Immersive” Lundhjem houses recently won the Lille Arne prize from the Danish Association of Architects.

April 1, 2019

Danish company Lundhjem has received the 2019 Lille Arne award from the Danish Association of Architects, which praised the trendy designs for their “seamless biophilia experience” and “uncompromising contact with nature.”

We reached rising star Aksel Lund, the architect behind Lundhjem, at his Copenhagen office to discuss the award.... Read more

April Fools

LEED v4.20 introduces a wide range of cannabis-oriented prerequisites

April 1, 2019

Responding to marijuana legalization in Canada and multiple U.S. states, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has announced numerous changes to ensure the LEED standard stays current with changing demographics among cannabis users.

“LEED is constantly evolving, and we are proud to remain ahead of the curve on this major shift in... Read more

April Fools

How the highest-profile event in sustainable design went terribly, terribly wrong

April 1, 2019

It started with a kombucha-fueled bacchanal on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. It ended in a prison cell.

The Green Building unFestival was billed as a more exclusive and more entertainment-centered version of the unConference sponsored annually by the International Living Future Institute. ILFI is one of many entities now... Read more

April Fools

With the rousing success of the WELL Building Standard, the Green Building Initiative has launched a competing standard that emphasizes occupant comfort, energy savings, and freedom.

April 1, 2019

There are a number of building standards claiming to improve occupant health and well-being. Costly, complicated certifications such as WELL, Fitwel, and others place an emphasis on promoting “wellness” at the expense of what Americans want most: comfort, convenience, and freedom. A new standard from the Green Building Initiative (GBI), which... Read more

News Analysis

Sidewalk Labs is validating strategies for carbon-neutral neighborhoods—and finding valuable lessons for any urban development in the process.

March 5, 2019

Mass-timber buildings with Passive House-level performance. All-electric energy systems with renewables and storage. Green stormwater infrastructure. Advanced occupant-engagement strategies.

The sustainability plan for Sidewalk Toronto’s Quayside development reads like a green urbanism wish list. It would be tempting to write the plan... Read more

News Brief

A new “field guide” to becoming a regenerative practitioner suggests starting with oneself.

March 4, 2019

Sustainable development involves minimal disruption of living things and natural systems, but regenerative development is different: it aims to enhance the ability of life to thrive. If this seems difficult, don’t despair: a new guide offers advice on how to become a “regenerative practitioner.” And it all starts with your inner life.

“... Read more

Feature Article

Ready to expand your comfort zone? Handing control to occupants is the best way to ensure they’re satisfied.

March 4, 2019

This article builds on a 15-year-old BuildingGreen classic, originally written by Jessica Boehland and Nadav Malin. Our update includes exciting new work going on with thermal comfort in mixed-mode buildings. Quotes from 2019 interviews are marked as such.

The most common complaint facility managers hear from building occupants is that... Read more

Product Review

Hanging Gardens offers a “smart” blue-roof system that stores water on roofs, monitoring weather and local stormwater to more effectively manage runoff.

March 4, 2019

Building owners generally frown upon water pooling on a roof, but with careful detailing, roofs can be a good place to store excess rainwater. Storing water on roof makes sense in urban areas when there is little free space on the lot, or when putting it in the ground is expensive or inappropriate, such as on brownfield sites. These “blue roofs... Read more

News Brief

Though products are not yet on the market, a state commission has given the go-ahead for select foam insulation without flame retardants or fire testing.

March 4, 2019

WARNING – FIRE HAZARD.

That’s how plastic foam insulation will have to be marked following a decision by the State of California Building Standards Commission to allow flame-retardant-free products to be used below grade. The boards will also have to say, in ½-inch-high red lettering, “This product is required to be installed below a... Read more

Op-Ed

In a year of devastating disasters, greenhouse gas emissions rose. Here’s what we can do about it.

February 4, 2019

By James S. Russell

We’ve just ended a year of fires that killed 85 in California, nearly destroying the town of Paradise, and hurricanes that took 53 lives in Florida and 43 in the Carolinas, leaving thousands of destroyed homes and billions of dollars of damage in their wake. The connection of these and other storms and droughts to... Read more

Product Review

Mermet offers a fiberglass textile for interior rollershades that has good performance and material transparency.

February 4, 2019

In December’s issue, we covered new products that manufacturers released at Greenbuild, but we’ve saved another for this month—Mermet’s GreenScreen Nature sun-control textile. Manufactured by the company’s affiliate in France, Nature is available in roller shades from Draper, Hunter Douglas, and Lutron, and is part of Mermet’s GreenScreen line... Read more

Op-Ed

The 4.1 version of LEED’s design and construction rating systems is outstanding. Is it too late?

February 4, 2019

As Malcolm Gladwell illustrates so well in his bestselling book Outliers, nothing great emerges fully formed. Just ask the inventor of WD-40 about his previous 39 formulations.

LEED 4.1 is such an achievement. The current working drafts of LEED for Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and LEED for Interior Design and Construction (ID... Read more