BuildingGreen Report

Product Guide

May 15, 2024
Air-to-air heat pumps are more than three times as efficient as electric baseboard heaters, and many are now engineered for better cold-climate performance

Air-to-air heat pumps transfer heat energy from the air into and out of a building. These systems have an outdoor unit with a compressor and condenser, and either indoor units or a central... Read more

Feature Article

The U.S. is grappling with a housing crisis, climate change, and a legacy of racism and segregation. But we can address these problems all at once by centering community.

May 13, 2024

Solving our global housing crisis could have severe environmental and social impacts.

We’ll have to produce 96,000 new homes per day to meet the world’s affordable housing needs by 2030, according to UN–Habitat. But this isn’t a future problem in a faraway land: right now in the U.S., we have fewer than 4 million affordable and... Read more

Spotlight Report

May 13, 2024

As we work to provide affordable shelter to tens of millions of households in the U.S., we have a choice: we can reinforce the exploitive systems that created our housing crisis, or we can support health, life, and resilience.

But the perceived first cost of sustainable and regenerative design solutions is one of the... Read more

Product Guide

April 22, 2024
HPWHs are more than three times more efficient than standard water heaters, and those that use CO2 as a refrigerant are the best.

Note: This guide does not include information on boilers or air-to-water heat pumps used in larger commercial applications, though some HPWH systems are modular and can sometimes meet those demands.

Heat-pump... Read more

Product Review

Intellihot electrifies commercial water heating using heat pumps, CO2 refrigerant, thermal batteries, and no need for water storage.

April 16, 2024

The commercial water-heating systems used in hotels, restaurants, and large multifamily buildings have a few problems. As we move toward all-electric buildings, we need an alternative to gas, but heat-pump water heaters face a couple of challenges:

First, they do not heat water very quickly. For this reason, they require storage tanks... Read more

Webcast

April 4, 2024

Wood products are widely considered to be inherently “carbon neutral.” The current surge of interest in mass timber was spurred by this belief.

But could scaling up our demand for wood actually make climate change worse?

It’s a huge risk. Our forests are a massive carbon bank and a critical climate buffer,... Read more

News Analysis

Weather files that help designers plan for climate change will soon be readily available. But legal liability remains until ASHRAE catches up.

April 3, 2024

This article has been prepared for informational purposes only; it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal advice.

Architects are required to help their clients plan for climate change, but building codes and design standards are based on weather histories that are often over 20 years old. As a result, stormy... Read more

Blog Post

Now is your chance to comment on LEED version 5, a pivotal update and the first major change since 2013. We give you the highlights below.

April 3, 2024

By Nadav Malin and Paula Melton

It’s here. So what’s new?

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released LEED v5 for its first public comment period on April 3, 2024, giving us our first detailed look at the next generation of the program that has defined green building in North America and around the world for more than... Read more

April Fools

GSHPs have gone mainstream, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, and the hippest AEC professionals are so over them.

April 1, 2024

“I was specifying ground-source heat pumps before they were popular,” recalled Gea Snootfeld, principal at Seattle’s Maverick Design. “Most people installing them now don’t, like, actually, get it.”

Snootfeld is referring, of course, to the recent breakout of ground-source heat pumps (GSHPs) onto the mechanical heating and cooling... Read more

April Fools

A building project brings brothers back together, but a fast-moving storm challenges the project and the family.

April 1, 2024

Welcome to the second installment of BuildingGreen’s Biophilic Design series “Built Against the Howling Wind,” as we follow the Boar brothers’ journey of sustainable homebuilding from design considerations through project completion. We’ll look at the choices and challenges that triplets Kevin, Wilbur, and Hamlet ran into while selecting... Read more

April Fools

With headlines daily jumping the shark, scientists warn of dangers for Earth’s oceans and for humanity.

April 1, 2024

Long before Sharknado, far in advance of Shark Week, popular culture produced something historians have since dubbed “the best marine-animal metaphor since trained seals.”

Yes, we mean jumping the shark—a type of ridiculous stunt that heralds the imminent decline of a formerly respectable endeavor.

Experts now say this metaphor... Read more

April Fools

Outdated, inefficient buildings find a new path forward—and inward.

April 1, 2024

As the morning sun hits the east-facing curtain wall, Summit Ridge Office Park gazes down at its own reflection in the still waters of a man-made lake. Until recently, the building simply accepted what it saw there: a six-story, highway-adjacent office complex, first built in 1987. Once proud of its blandly handsome exterior, Summit Ridge... Read more

April Fools

Whistleblowers alert state health agencies to possible foot fungus scourge in laid-back Vermont, Silicon Valley workplaces.

April 1, 2024

Nonconformist, bohemian businesses in Vermont share a long-held footwear philosophy: “no shoes, yes service.”

And similarly, but also really differently, shoelessness has found a foothold among companies in southern California’s famously informal—even wacky—tech start-up scene.

“I love to scrunch the course carpet nodules... Read more

April Fools

Building on Texas’s reputation for environmentalism, which stems from its clean grid, Houston is aiming to rival Amsterdam and become a worldwide leader in urban bicycle commuting.

April 1, 2024

In a surprise move aimed at reducing the carbon impacts of commuting, Houston, Texas is banning cars from most of the city limits, expanding bicycle infrastructure into the suburbs, and even making right turns illegal. Mayor John Whitmore said residents overwhelmingly supported the initiatives in recent elections, and local businesses are... Read more

April Fools

A mass timber controversy compels BuildingGreen to bid a regretful farewell to its hippest and most popular event venue.

April 1, 2024

As the 2024 event season approaches for BuildingGreen’s Peer Networks, the Sustainable Design Leaders (SDL) have been looking forward to yet another summit at the beloved IslandWood venue on Washington’s Bainbridge Island.

But in the aftermath of Paula Melton’s two-part report released earlier this year, “Wood: Is It Still Good?” it’s... Read more

April Fools

The Inflation Reduction Act has nearly eliminated bursts of overinflation, reducing serious injury to American balloon artists.

March 26, 2024

Subcutaneous emphysema from blowing up a giant link-o-loon.

A case of Gillespie’s Pouches developed after a career of ballooning with bad technique.

Eye damage—or, Gosh forbid, blindness—inflicted by exploding latex.

There’s no question that overinflation comes with hazards aplenty—ever since Professor Michael Faraday... Read more

Product Guide

March 24, 2024
The best outdoor lighting is efficacious but warm and meets the performance needs of the application without disturbing wildlife or people. 

Standard outdoor lighting is left on for long hours and is often too cold a color; it also allows light trespass that disturbs people, wildlife, and ecosystems.

The best lighting is “efficacious” (... Read more

News Analysis

Forced labor and other inhumane practices are embedded in many common building materials. The building industry can’t solve this alone, but we can still take action.

March 13, 2024

This article has been prepared for informational purposes only; it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal advice. You should consult your firm’s legal advisors before engaging in any transaction.​​

Disclosures: WSP Built Ecology is BuildingGreen’s content partner on the LEEDuser website, and BuildingGreen is... Read more

News Analysis

Engineered stone countertops may be causing a spike in lung disease, with cases seemingly tied to the material’s unique properties. Find out what design and construction teams should do—and why.

March 6, 2024

Grinders’ asthma. Stonecutters’ consumption. Potters’ rot. Silicosis.

Lung disease from breathing in dust is one of the oldest and most lethal occupational hazards for people working in the building trades. According to a “A Short History of Occupational Disease,” an article published by the Ulster Medical Society in 2021, evidence of... Read more

Feature Article

Many people hope mass timber will drive decarbonization—but scaling that up could make things worse. Instead of embodied carbon alone, “climate-smart” practices focus on our increasingly fragile forests.

February 26, 2024

This is Part Two of a two-part series on wood products. Part One focuses on the embodied carbon of wood products, exploring the origin and veracity of industry carbon-neutrality claims and considering the avoided emissions associated with using mass timber in place of structural steel or concrete. Part Two considers broader climate implications... Read more