News

News Brief

A California county has the first code to address both concrete performance and concrete’s carbon emissions.

January 7, 2020

In November, California’s Marin County adopted the world’s first building code that limits carbon emissions from concrete. (Concrete’s Portland cement content accounts for more than 6% of anthropogenic carbon emissions.) The code focuses on concrete performance, creating standards for composition that “maintains adequate strength and durability... Read more

Product Review

YORK YZ Magnetic Bearing Centrifugal Chiller is the first chiller to be optimized for use with a low-GWP hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant.

January 7, 2020

Refrigerants are a unique problem in the green building world. Even the most energy-efficient chillers and heat pumps use them, and many of these refrigerants have global warming potential (GWP) more than a thousand times that of CO2. The “next generation” hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerants are a good solution, but if they are dropped into... Read more

News Brief

More than half of a building’s embodied carbon is in its bones, prompting research—and soon, a new Revit tool.

January 7, 2020

Which structural component would you expect to have the most embodied carbon? The foundation? The framing? The answer is actually the floors, according to an analysis of more than 600 buildings conducted by the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti. (Disclosure: BuildingGreen’s president, Nadav Malin, is on Thornton Tomasetti’s Sustainability... Read more

Feature Article

People from marginalized communities are shockingly underrepresented in the U.S. building industry. It’s past time to change that.

December 20, 2019

This is part one in a two-part series on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the building industry. Part two, to be released February 10, 2020, will focus on advancing social justice during the project process.

* * * * *

Black people can’t be architects.

That jaw-dropping statement came from the mouth of a child in... Read more

Webcast

December 19, 2019

The Center for Active Design (CfAD), operator of Fitwel Certification System, recently launched Fitwel 2.1 which advances a vision where every building and community is optimized for health. Fitwel 2.1 features several new and enhanced products and systems including:

a separate pathway for new construction projects newly developed Retail... Read more

Blog Post

We need to eliminate toxic fossil fuels from our buildings. This joint letter to HVAC equipment manufacturers asks them to address the gaps in the equipment that’s currently available.

December 11, 2019

Have you been moving toward electrifying HVAC systems but struggling to find the equipment you need?

Many engineers are in this position—and the Sustainable MEP Leaders are trying to change that. The Sustainable MEP Leaders peer network brings together the most committed sustainability directors from leading MEP design firms throughout... Read more

News Brief

Many carcinogens associated with buildings and construction are to blame for a variety of cancer cases.

December 2, 2019

Thanks to 13 major occupational carcinogens, 10,000 Canadians per year suffer from cancer, a recent report from the Occupational Cancer Research Centre claims. Many of these hazards are associated with buildings and the construction industry. The 13 (with the estimated number of cancer sufferers) are:

solar ultraviolet radiation (4,600)... Read more

News Brief

If you thought doing an energy model on one building was hard, try a whole district. But NREL is going to make it easier.

December 2, 2019

In theory, district-scale energy systems are the future. But there’s a big problem: it is very difficult to model them—which in turn makes it difficult to design them. That’s now being rectified with the Urban Renewable Building and Neighborhood optimization (URBANopt), an EnergyPlus- and OpenStudio-based simulation platform being developed by... Read more

News Analysis

It’s a new idea that’s shaking up the industry: stringent performance standards for existing buildings.

December 2, 2019

Despite the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, many cities and states across the country have been moving forward with ambitious climate commitments. Boston plans to be carbon neutral by 2050. In that same year, New York City has pledged to cut its emissions by 80%. Washington, D.C. hopes to slash its carbon in half by 2032.... Read more

News Brief

“Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” is a draft rule requiring disclosure of personal health information.

December 2, 2019

A proposed rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would limit which scientific studies can be used to make regulatory decisions, according to an analysis by Lisa Friedman of The New York Times. The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science Proposed Rule calls for full transparency of underlying datasets, including the... Read more

Product Review

These innovative products reduce carbon emissions’ impacts and include energy-saving windows and insulation, plus low-carbon pavers, gypsum, and MDF.

December 2, 2019

For the past 18 years, BuildingGreen has recognized green building products that significantly improve upon standard industry practices. This year we are focusing on the world’s greatest challenge: reducing the environmental impacts of greenhouse gases. The following products do so by conserving energy, reducing emissions, and managing carbon... Read more

News Brief

Defending against sea-level rise will be almost as expensive as building the interstate highway system, according to a recent report.

December 2, 2019

Protecting roads, railways, and other public infrastructure from rising seas is going to be expensive. A recent report from the Center for Climate Integrity and Resilient Analytics is the first to tally the costs—an estimated $400 billion over the next 20 years. “Protecting America from climate change will be the most all-encompassing... Read more

News Brief

The internet of things has the potential to make us more resource efficient. But smart devices could also make us vulnerable to cyberattack.

December 2, 2019

Perhaps you’ve heard the harrowing stories of hackers accessing baby monitors and Nest thermostats. Well, it is only going to get worse, say experts. Some devices with “smart” capabilities (meaning they are able to interact with a wireless network) are best in class for energy efficiency. But with more and more destined to come on the market,... Read more

News Brief

Filling a gap in whole-building life-cycle assessment, the Embodied Carbon Construction Calculator brings to light specific brands’ data.

November 21, 2019

Whole-building life-cycle assessment (WBLCA)—a way of calculating the environmental impacts of buildings based on the materials used—is a growing area of interest for the building industry, thanks in part to rating systems like LEED and the Living Building Challenge. But there’s a trove of data it doesn’t account for.

Most current WBLCA... Read more

News Brief

With LEED Positive, the LEED rating systems will move into the territory of regenerative design.

November 21, 2019

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has introduced “LEED Positive,” a vision for regenerative design driven by the LEED rating systems. Unveiled at Greenbuild 2019 in Atlanta, the new, long-term vision has several waypoints:

continued investment in LEED v4.1 for the foreseeable future the ability of existing buildings to achieve “... Read more

News Brief

We can’t make progress on sustainability unless we meet people where they are, said former president Barack Obama at Greenbuild Atlanta.

November 20, 2019

Sustainability has to be for everyone or it won’t get real traction, suggested former U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking at Greenbuild 2019 in Atlanta.

Connecting the two most daunting issues of our planet—climate change and economic inequality—Obama noted, “It’s hard to figure out how we solve sustainability and deal with climate... Read more

News Brief

The new Design Datamap visualizes award-winning projects and connects to deeper wisdom.

November 5, 2019

Since 1997, The American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment (COTE) has been giving its Top Ten awards to the world’s most sustainable building projects. That’s more than 200 projects with information and insight on how teams met their environmental goals. And Varun Kohli, head of sustainability and analytics at... Read more

News Brief

As part of a larger campaign to rid its products of toxics, the retail giant will no longer sell floor coverings with harmful stain and dirt repellents.

November 5, 2019

In a sign that the backlash against toxic stain and dirt repellents is growing, Home Depot has announced it will be phasing out carpets and rugs coated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The new ban, effective December 31, 2019, is part of a larger chemical strategy that began in 2017 and also includes limitations on triclosan,... Read more

Product Review

EP Henry pavers are the first products to use Solidia, which has a smaller carbon footprint than ordinary Portland cement.

November 4, 2019

Concrete is one of our most versatile building materials—and one of our worst carbon polluters. Manufacturing the main ingredient, ordinary Portland cement (OPC), accounts for approximately 5­%–8% of anthropogenic CO2. With carbon in our atmosphere reaching critical levels, we need to find cement alternatives, and fast. There are few... Read more

News Analysis

A new project from HITT Contracting brings manufacturers, architects, engineers, and contractors together to experiment with technology.

November 4, 2019

The durability of self-growing bricks. Augmented reality for electrical and plumbing installation. The cost-effectiveness of low-voltage lighting. These are some of the innovations currently being tested at Co|Lab, a new building project from HITT Contracting, designed by William McDonough+Partners.

“Our goal for Co|Lab is to be our... Read more