News

News Brief

ASTM C1866 will make it easier to specify low-embodied-carbon recycled ground glass as a supplementary cementitious material.

June 8, 2020

Ground glass can be a low-global-warming-potential replacement for Portland cement, but using it on a project has been difficult because there has been no standard way to specify the material. ASTM has published ASTM C1866, Standard Specification for Recycled Ground-Glass Pozzolan for Use in Concrete. ASTM C1866 will make it... Read more

Product Review

Renewable energy systems, particularly photovoltaic (PV) panels, have come under attack for using toxic materials and having a high carbon footprint. The truth is more complicated.

June 8, 2020

As planet temperatures continue to rise, reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuel consumption is now our biggest challenge. Photovoltaic (PV) energy is often held up as our future.

Though PV already has a long history of solid performance, articles claiming PV is actually a net producer of carbon have been circulating for years. Other... Read more

Feature Article

Take a plain old building and turn it into something remarkable, and you’ll also help save the planet.

June 8, 2020

Older buildings—especially those from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s—need our help. Many leave something to be desired in terms of aesthetics and comfort. But the truth is that they are part of the urban and suburban fabric now, and they aren’t going anywhere. As tempting as it might seem to tear them all down and replace them with... Read more

Op-Ed

How will the AEC industry—what we build and how we work—change post-pandemic? We asked leading lights in the green building world.

June 8, 2020

Downtown Chicago, like so many downtowns, has been largely empty to prevent the spread of Covid-19—followed more recently by protests and opportunistic looting (Central Camera, visible in this image, was badly damaged).

Photo: Raed Mansour. License: CC BY 2.0.

We queried some big-picture thinkers, and we got... Read more

News Brief

A team entirely new to Living Building Challenge successfully molded what is usually a water-intensive production facility to meet the highest of performance standards.

June 8, 2020

The International Living Future Institute recently certified the largest Living Building yet—the Alexander Valley Silver Oak Winery in California. This 109,000-ft2 facility consists of tasting rooms, a wine cellar, and production facilities, making it a relatively complicated project compared to others that have pursued the Living Building... Read more

Webcast

May 22, 2020

What weather data are you using to inform design? Learn where to access high-resolution climate projection data for your projects, and how to use it. Be an early adopter as the AEC industry moves from considering weather as static to using information about our changing climate to inform design.

News Analysis

Daylight, indoor/outdoor spaces, extensive plantings, and exposed wood are among the features of this year’s winners.

May 21, 2020

The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced its Top Ten projects for 2020. If one theme shows through, it’s the almost universal embrace of natural daylight and plantings, along with commonalities like exposed wood and indoor/outdoor spaces.

Two awards went... Read more

News Brief

Measuring embodied carbon is no longer enough: certified projects now must purchase offsets for embodied carbon and refrigerant leaks.

May 4, 2020

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) was the first to launch a national standard for carbon neutrality in buildings. Now version 2 has been released with changes that include multiple compliance paths for energy efficiency, a requirement to offset fugitive refrigerant emissions and embodied carbon, and a higher bar for carbon offsets. The... Read more

News Brief

A life-cycle assessment of Katerra cross-laminated timber reveals opportunities for lower carbon impact.

May 4, 2020

Want to lower the carbon footprint of a mass-timber structural system? Consider the species of the lumber and where it’s coming from.

That’s one of the central conclusions of a life-cycle assessment (LCA) recently published in the journal Sustainability and summarized in a report by Katerra.... Read more

News Brief

The United Church of Christ says there is a moral urgency to tame toxic emissions from 100 plants located in populated areas.

May 4, 2020

In a recent report, The United Church of Christ, a denomination of Protestant Christianity, shames 100 U.S. manufacturing facilities with highly toxic air pollution records, calling it a “moral crisis” that more than 112,500 children under the age of five live within three miles of the facilities’ perimeters. 

... Read more

News Brief

The Illuminating Engineering Society’s white paper “Germicidal Ultraviolet (GUV)–Frequently Asked Questions” explains GUV and its potential role in fighting COVID-19.

May 4, 2020

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) has released the white paper “Germicidal Ultraviolet (GUV)–Frequently Asked Questions.” The report is aimed at healthcare applications, addressing the fundamentals of GUV light, its effectiveness, its safety, and more in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.

... Read more

Product Review

Cleaning with soap and water is still the best defense against COVID-19 virus and other pathogens. Antimicrobials are not the answer.

May 4, 2020

COVID-19 self-isolation has drastically changed our behavior. We don masks and rubber gloves if we have to go outside and then wash hands incessantly when we get back … behaviors that would have seemed absurd just a few months ago. The precautions are well founded as we look for ways to “flatten the curve” and get a handle on... Read more

News Brief

Older buildings are “CFC banks” because of phased-out refrigerants and blowing agents, according to MIT scientists.

May 4, 2020

The hole in the ozone layer is closing—but not as quickly as it should, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In fact, buildings with older foam insulation, HVAC systems, and refrigeration equipment could delay healing by six years. The escaping CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) are blowing... Read more

News Analysis

Flattening the COVID curve is also flattening electricity load curves, which may be a lesson for the building industry.

May 4, 2020

Just as COVID-19 has changed nearly every aspect of day-to-day life, the virus is upending deeply rooted patterns of the electric grid. Combined with initial signs of cleaner air, emboldened wildlife, and growing demand for local agriculture, some have wondered whether being confined to our homes has resulted in lower... Read more

Op-Ed

Fifty years out, the increased awareness of the environment is heartwarming and the accomplishments significant, but our challenges are greater than ever.

April 20, 2020

Fifty years ago, I was the Earth Day Coordinator at Radnor Junior High School in Wayne, Pennsylvania. At age 14, I was a budding conservationist (we weren’t really using the term “environmentalist” yet), and I remember taking the train into Philadelphia to pick up mimeographed flyers about Earth Day to hand out in our school... Read more

Op-Ed

What lessons can we learn from the coronavirus pandemic that will help us end up in a better place when the crisis is over?

April 10, 2020

In a time of an unrelenting onslaught of devastating news from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s hard to imagine that we will get to the other side of this mounting humanitarian and economic catastrophe. And it’s even harder to imagine that there could be good news that will emerge from it. But there may be some silver linings in... Read more

News Brief

A new standard lays out design guidance for maximizing a building’s adaptability and disassembly potential.

April 6, 2020

Making material and design choices that minimize a building’s embodied carbon upfront is vital. But a new standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) reminds us that we can also reduce embodied impacts by extending the useful life of what we plan to build.

ISO 20887: 2020, Sustainability in Buildings and Civil... Read more

News Analysis

Use of whole-building life-cycle assessment tools like Tally is spiking. Why?

April 6, 2020

Interest in the embodied carbon of buildings—the upfront carbon emissions associated with production of building materials—has seen a major spike in the last couple of years, which has led to increased interest in whole-building life-cycle assessment, or WBLCA. WBLCA measures the environmental impacts, including global warming impacts, of a... Read more

News Analysis

Three organizations focused on building electrification share their message for the AEC industry.

April 6, 2020

Advocacy groups have been popping up, urging people to use more electricity, not less. It’s sometimes a confusing message for people to hear.

 

Building electrification refers to using electric technologies instead of combustion-fueled technologies to supply the comforts of... Read more

News Brief

Under a new EPA ruling, large commercial HVAC and refrigeration systems will no longer have to address high-GWP refrigerant leaks.

April 6, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rescinded the leak-repair provisions that were put in place in 2016 by the Obama administration as part of Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Section 608 regulates the use of high-ozone-depletion-potential (ODP) refrigerants in HVAC and refrigeration equipment. The Obama administration amended... Read more