News

News Brief

Building professionals push for ways to ensure “slave-free” buildings.

October 7, 2019

Almost 95% of the construction materials used to create any given building come from only 400 to 600 raw materials and 75 to 100 composite building products, according to Grace Farms Foundation. Yet supply chains are so vast and convoluted that they can mask many instances of human exploitation: forced labor, human trafficking, and child labor... Read more

News Brief

Even a garden or park can take decades to become carbon positive. With a little effort, it doesn’t have to be that way.

October 7, 2019

Life-cycle assessments and embodied carbon are gradually becoming a bigger focus in the architecture world. But even for project teams that carefully track carbon impacts, rarely does the accounting include the site’s landscape design. A new tool called Pathfinder helps teams fill that gap and create projects that sequester more carbon in the... Read more

News Brief

Achieving zero-carbon buildings is possible in the world’s biggest developing markets, but a new report recommends improvements.

October 7, 2019

The United Nations recently called for people everywhere to make the transition to zero-carbon buildings. Now, a new report from the World Resources Institute (WRI) finds that making this transition is feasible from a regulatory standpoint in several countries that have historically put little emphasis on energy efficiency or renewable energy.... Read more

News Analysis

At the UH Rainbow Center for Women and Children, a community comes together.

September 27, 2019

Editor’s note: This project will be featured at the first national conference on resilience in the built environment taking place November 7 and 8 in Cleveland. Join BuildingGreen, the International Living Future Institute, and the Resilient Design Institute there for Building Resilience 2019. Building Resilience 2019 will focus exclusively on... Read more

News Brief

The American Institute of Architects has made its boldest move yet toward declaring great design and sustainable design one and the same.

September 23, 2019

It’s a bold step forward, and The American Institute of Architects (AIA) isn’t shy about saying so. It’s nicknamed the change “the Big Move Toward Environmental Stewardship.”

The move began gradually, years ago, with a “sustainability scan” that took stock of how AIA was foregrounding sustainable design across its... Read more

Feature Article

Offsite modular construction not only cuts costs and construction times but also benefits people and the planet.

September 9, 2019

The modular construction approach—in which a building’s large-scale modularized components are prefabricated in an offsite manufacturing facility for rapid assembly onsite—is garnering an increasing amount of attention in the building industry. This is due in large part to the interrelated issues of the rising costs of traditional construction... Read more

News Brief

Sixty percent of people in a USGBC survey identified recycling as one of the top three ways to help the environment. Only 7% chose “Live in a green building.”

September 9, 2019

U.S. residents are concerned about the future state of the environment, but they’re not doing much about it. They also don’t see green building as part of the solution.

These were some of the conclusions of a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and conducted by ClearPath Strategies. Part of the new “... Read more

Product Review

In California, rice straw is replacing wood as a raw material in medium- and high-density fiberboards while making use of an agricultural waste product.

September 9, 2019

Agricultural fiber (agfiber) boards made from wheat straw seem like a great idea. They replace wood—a valuable commodity—with a waste product from agricultural production. In the late 1990s, these wheat straw-based panels found a brief market niche for use as a particleboard replacement in cabinetry, but manufacturing challenges, costs, and... Read more

Primer

With more owners looking to reverse the embodied carbon impact of their buildings, it’s important to know how to buy legitimate offsets.

September 9, 2019

What if you could write a check to magically cancel out your carbon footprint?*

Actually, you can: that’s the whole idea behind carbon offsets, which building owners can purchase in order to negate their greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon offsets can be used to make up for either embodied carbon (the emissions associated with construction... Read more

News Analysis

Interest in embodied carbon is growing. Here’s a guide to the tools that can help you measure and reduce these emissions on projects.

September 9, 2019

Awareness and concern about embodied carbon—the upfront greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with producing building materials and constructing a project—has skyrocketed recently. Building professionals and owners alike want to assess and reduce the embodied carbon footprint of their projects in order to cut their near-term emissions (see... Read more

News Brief

Firms from around the world are mobilizing for the international climate protest inspired by teen activist Greta Thunberg.

September 5, 2019

From Brooklyn to Buenos Aires and from Vancouver to Vermont, architects around the globe have committed to joining an international climate strike on the morning of September 20, 2019.

At the center of the move to #StandWithGreta (16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg) is the organization Architects Advocate, headed by Thomas Jacobs, AIA... Read more

Op-Ed

A Passive House Institute U.S. supporter argues that PHIUS rules far exceed the requirements of the international Passive House Institute.

August 19, 2019

Dear Editor,

I am writing to express some concerns regarding your recent article “The Two Passive Houses: A Comparison.” For disclosure, I am a current member of the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) Technical Committee and a PHIUS instructor for onsite QA/QC professionals. Despite being more directly familiar with and professionally... Read more

Primer

A few key metrics are important for understanding the thermal performance of glazing units.

August 6, 2019

Glass is everywhere in buildings—especially in large commercial buildings. It’s essential for views and daylighting but often a liability when it comes to thermal comfort and energy savings. Here are the metrics you need to know in order to understand their performance.

U-factor or U-value

U-factor (also called U-value) is the rate at... Read more

News Analysis

PHIUS and PHI certifications have been considered “separate but equal” in the U.S. marketplace for years. But are they really equivalent?

August 6, 2019

It was a long time coming. After years of turmoil over whether Passive House should be more flexible, in 2011 the international Passive House Institute (PHI) issued a judgment about Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS): the American institute could no longer certify Passive House projects to the international standard or administer... Read more

News Brief

With new legislation requiring net-zero carbon by 2050, buildings will be a major focus.

August 6, 2019

In a historic move, the United Kingdom in June 2019 passed a legally binding target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. According to research by the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the new goal can be reached with a relatively low price tag.

“It is achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives,... Read more

Product Review

CL-Talon provides a cladding system that can incorporate up to ten inches of insulation and comes with thermal breaks and easy-to-adjust framing.

August 6, 2019

Thermal bridging, where thermal energy finds pathways from the outdoors through the building envelope, is the Achilles’ heel of rainscreen systems. The reason: exterior cladding has to be mounted to the building, and this typically requires clips or screws that have to pass through the insulation. The clips not only create a thermal bridge to... Read more

News Brief

Projects from six cities around the world demonstrate de-carbonization, resilience, and replicability.

July 8, 2019

C40 Cities, an international network of 94 municipalities committed to realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement, has announced the 15 winners of its Reinventing Cities competition. The competition rewards urban building projects designed to net-zero-carbon standards that also demonstrate resilience, noteworthy architecture, and... Read more

Product Review

USG’s EcoSmart gypsum panels make it easier to lower a building’s overall carbon footprint while saving water as well.

July 8, 2019

It is hard to turn on the news without seeing warnings about rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and how time is running out for action. Design teams trying to lower their building materials’ carbon footprint usually look at reducing the amount of known high emitters, such as steel and concrete. But heavy interior products... Read more

News Brief

Projects can now be certified under Fitwel for health-promoting design and construction.

July 8, 2019

The latest iteration of Fitwel, version 2.1, expands the focus of the certification to include new construction projects. Formerly, the standard applied only to existing buildings. Project teams pursuing this new pre-occupancy Design Certification must also follow up with post-occupancy Built Certification.

This change positions Fitwel... Read more

Feature Article

Electricity generation from wind and solar is poised to surpass fossil fuel generation in the next 30 years. You can future-proof the buildings you design today to save money and carbon later on.

July 8, 2019

By Ruby Theresa Nahan

Renewable electricity generation has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. Ninety percent of that increase came from wind and solar generation (source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)). Costs have also declined rapidly. Oftentimes solar and wind generation is the cheapest option for new or replacement... Read more