BuildingGreen Report

Product Review

Our urban buildings can provide habitat for vulnerable honeybee populations, as well as research opportunities that might help the species and our food supply.

September 7, 2021

Bees are one of the most vital members of our ecosystem, responsible for pollinating plants that make up a significant portion of our food supply and help control erosion, provide animal habitat, and increase oxygen while mitigating carbon dioxide. Though most honeybees are not native pollinators and their impacts on native species are... Read more

Op-Ed

A leading champion of sustainable design leaves behind a rich legacy of accomplishment.

September 3, 2021

Lance Hosey, FAIA, LEED Fellow, died unexpectedly at his home on Friday, August 28, 2021 in San Diego, California. As shock gives way to reflection at BuildingGreen and the larger sustainable design community, Lance’s career as an architect, a widely published author, a committed mentor for dozens of emerging architects, and a champion of... Read more

Spotlight Report

August 10, 2021

It may take hundreds or thousands of years to return to pre-industrial-age levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, but the loss of animal and plant species that is occurring today is, practically speaking, irreversible. It will take millions of years for evolution to fill the ecological niches being vacated by extinctions and restore healthy... Read more

News Brief

International Living Future Institute (ILFI) taps industry veteran Lindsay Baker as new CEO to lead its next chapter.

August 6, 2021

The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has announced that Lindsay Baker will be taking the reins of the organization starting on August 9, 2021. She succeeds interim CEO K C Gauldine, who took over in April 2020 after the departure of Amanda Sturgeon. Baker was selected because she brings “the power, vision, and experience to ignite... Read more

News Brief

Forest management practices have a big impact on the carbon benefits of using wood products. SCS has laid out how to do the calculations.

August 2, 2021

If a tree falls in the woods, and there’s no one around to describe how the forest has been managed, is the tree carbon neutral?

This riff on the classic philosophical thought experiment is a practical question that SCS Global Services is seeking to answer for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).... Read more

News Analysis

Cities, counties, and states are adopting regulations that require energy-performance disclosure. But a newer type of standard may be more effective.

August 2, 2021

In 2008, it was a new and brilliant idea. Since building owners weren’t voluntarily making large-scale progress against climate change, jurisdictions would require them to find out how well their buildings performed, and then disclose that performance level to the public. These “benchmarking and transparency” laws first took hold in Washington... Read more

Product Review

Mitsubishi’s Heat2O commercial heat-pump water heater uses CO2 as a refrigerant and is now available in the U.S.

August 2, 2021

Heat pumps have become ubiquitous in our buildings because they are energy efficient and run on electricity rather than fossil fuels, an increasingly important consideration in areas where natural gas use is being restricted due to carbon emissions. The challenge is that the R-410a refrigerant typically used in heat pumps has... Read more

News Brief

AIA has released talking points for architects to help clients and others understand what an investment in green building can accomplish.

August 2, 2021

Have you ever felt stuck when clients say high performance sounds nice but just isn’t in the budget? The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has your back.

The group has released a series of talking points that specifically address return on investment for green building features. For example,... Read more

Feature Article

Removal of invasive plants and support of native plantings are critically important for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

August 2, 2021

As I’ve stepped back from BuildingGreen in recent years, I’ve shifted more of my time and energy to restoring ecological balance to the Dummerston, Vermont, property where my wife, Jerelyn, and I live. This has meant doing battle with a wide variety of invasive plants—especially oriental bittersweet, Japanese barberry, bush honeysuckle, glossy... Read more

News Analysis

Product-level embodied carbon information will be available within BIM software in 2023.

August 2, 2021

The nonprofit Building Transparency—holder of the EC3 tool that allows comparison of building products’ carbon footprints—recently added the popular life-cycle assessment (LCA) app Tally to its portfolio. And now, armed with a big grant, Tally and EC3’s environmental product declaration (EPD) database will be integrated into a... Read more

News Analysis

Occupants want access to IAQ data. But it’s a battle between simplicity and accuracy.

July 6, 2021

We’re not far from the day when we will be able to walk into a building and test indoor air quality in real time from our phones, most experts say. The demand for this air-quality information continues to grow, especially in the wake of COVID-19 and the realization that good IAQ is linked with lower transmission risk. In the... Read more

Op-Ed

BuidingGreen’s recent report critiquing net-zero energy may be fighting the wrong battle.

July 6, 2021

By Brad Liljequist

Reading BuildingGreen’s provocative “Net-Zero Energy Isn’t the Real Goal: 8 Reasons Why” sparked a lot of emotions and thoughts—ranging from strong agreement to a fair amount of “Yes, but….”

Zero energy by itself has never been the full, holistic goal—which instead perhaps is best stated as: “to reconstruct... Read more

News Brief

More than a database, mindful Materials is taking on an advocacy and convener role focused on healthy and sustainable materials.

July 6, 2021

Disclaimer: BuildingGreen is a technical advisory partner to mindful Materials.

When you think of mindful Materials (mM), you may think of stickers. That’s how the whole thing got started: HKS developed binder labels meant to help its designers quickly identify products in their product library that had transparency labels like health... Read more

News Analysis

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced initiatives that will finally regulate the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in consumer and building products.

July 6, 2021

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are used as dirt and stain repellants and are found in carpet and textile treatments, coatings, sealants, and other building and consumer products. They are persistent in the environment, and some are known persistent, bioaccumulative toxicants (PBTs), yet the extent of their use is not fully... Read more

News Brief

Extensive guidelines published by NAACP help put community residents in the driver’s seat.

July 6, 2021

With racial equity coming into greater mainstream focus as a sustainability imperative, one question keeps coming up for building professionals, policymakers, and residents of communities affected by development: how do we move forward?

NAACP is offering answers. The group’s first publication in a series called Guidelines for Equitable... Read more

Feature Article

Net-zero-energy buildings don’t always reduce carbon emissions. These are the tweaks we need to ensure they do.

June 7, 2021

Karina Hershberg’s transition from focusing on energy to focusing on carbon began six years ago. An electrical engineer at PAE Consulting, Hershberg was working on a project with deep sustainability goals. Net-zero energy (NZE) was a given. The team was considering taking the project entirely off grid and was thinking about a 300-year time... Read more

News Brief

The east and the west each have their own CLT producers, but now there’s one in between.

June 7, 2021

Even as the popularity of mass timber increases, sourcing Forest Stewardship Council-certified (FSC) wood is becoming more difficult, especially in certain regions of North America. It’s hardly good for the material’s carbon footprint to ship cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other members all the way across the U.S. or Canada... Read more

News Brief

The Green Science Policy Institute details how common PFAS compounds are in our building products.

June 7, 2021

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent, bioaccumulative, and linked to a number of negative health and environmental impacts. Some forms are toxic and possible carcinogens. These “forever” chemicals are now found on every continent and in the most remote places on the world. They are also common in the... Read more

News Brief

The U.S. General Services Administration has established two task groups in response to the president’s demands on climate and environmental justice.

June 7, 2021

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has established two new task groups relating to its large portfolio of buildings—the Federal Building Decarbonization Task Group and the Environmental Justice and Equity Task Group. The moves came in response to a sweeping executive order on climate and environmental justice.... Read more

Product Review

Jets vacuum toilet systems use significantly less water than standard systems, reduce wastewater, provide design flexibility, and can be used in combination with graywater and composting systems.

June 7, 2021

With drought conditions continuing in much of the U.S., reducing water consumption is an ongoing priority and has made low-flow appliances a necessity. Commercial toilets in particular use a lot of water, requiring a gravity assist to move waste along pipes. Though there are some extremely low-flow toilets available, there is... Read more