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The global building industry is not on track for decarbonization by 2050—not even close. There is promising news from COP27, but we need structural change, starting with electrification.
The score we need: 17.1.
The score we have: 8.1.
In other words, the building industry isn’t anywhere close to hitting necessary climate targets, according to the Global Building Climate Tracker. This index, begun in 2015 by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC, which is part of the United Nations... Read more
Imported European wood insulation has been available for years, but high costs, limited availability, and code challenges have kept it from going mainstream. U.S.-made TimberHP is out to change that.
GO Lab, manufacturer of TimberHP wood insulation, is providing a new insulation to the U.S. market—while bolstering rural Maine’s economy at the same time. The closing of Madison, Maine’s paper mill resulted in the loss of more than 200 good-paying jobs and seemingly doomed the facility and the rural community to a bleak future. The paper mill... Read more
Nooses, racist graffiti, and harassment are all too common in the construction workplace. What’s a contractor to do?
Skanska US, Microsoft, and Balfour Beatty found themselves in legal hot water in April 2022, when construction worker Quinte Harris filed suit against them alleging employment discrimination, unlawful retaliation, wrongful termination, and negligent supervision. Harris, who formerly worked on the Microsoft campus modernization... Read more
Most utility rate structures don’t encourage battery back-up systems. Here’s what needs to change.
There’s one surprisingly tricky piece of equipment that often stands in the way of fully electrifying a commercial building: the back-up generator. Batteries for back-up power are available, but the upfront cost differential is difficult to overcome.
"In addition to reducing demand, batteries can also act as... Read more
By pushing forward on environmental justice and civil rights activities, the new EPA office will help communities fight pollution—indoors and out.
“It’s about changing how our government works and who it works for,” said Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), during his September 2022 announcement of the new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR). Regan spoke near a hazardous waste site in North... Read more
We need a lot more collaboration and a totally new theory of change—and we need it now.
If I were being dramatic, I’d say that the green building movement is dead.
That, of course, would not be technically true, as there are so many amazing projects and wonderful people working hard to make a positive difference in the world through changes in the built environment. But taken in the context of the rate of climate change... Read more
Tens of millions of dollars from the U.S. government will fund better forestry practices and mass timber market development.
It’s a simple plan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay landowners to let their trees grow bigger before cutting them down.
The hoped-for outcomes are more complex: boosting the carbon sequestration, and the ecological and cultural value, of working forests; producing higher-quality wood products; increasing financial returns... Read more
Architects can use their positions to counter injustice in the built environment. An Equitable Communities Resource from AIA shows how.
Impact, agency, and power. These are the focus of a new publication from The American Institute of Architects (AIA): Architects’ Role in Creating Equitable Communities. Through ten focus groups with 67 designers and architects, the authors gathered insights, tools, and strategies for advancing design justice and equity in... Read more
The International Living Future Institute’s Declare database has added two filters to help find products that meet Enterprise Green Communities criteria.
The Declare website from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has made it easier to find products that meet criteria for Enterprise Green Communities—a green building certification program for affordable housing. Under the pulldown menu “Alignment,” there are two new options: “Enterprise Green Communities – Meets... Read more
In a chat with podcaster Louis Virtel, Fonda discussed her early forays into green building, her civil disobedience in D.C., and her new climate PAC.
A partial standing ovation greeted Jane Fonda. By the time she was done, she got the real deal.
The actor and activist took the stage at Greenbuild in San Francisco this morning to offer encouragement and to press the building industry to advance a just transition away from fossil fuels. Her focus on equitable treatment for building... Read more
Peter Templeton will keep the reins at USGBC. We talked to him about equity, ESG, and a brand new framework in the works for existing building portfolios.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its sister nonprofit Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) have announced that Peter Templeton, who came on as interim president and CEO just over a year ago, will stay in these positions. Templeton told BuildingGreen in an interview that he hopes to... Read more
Deep energy retrofits and existing building electrification are critical to curbing carbon emissions. Here’s how to make the case and get it done.
A carbon-neutral city by 2030: that’s the goal of Ithaca, New York’s Green New Deal, adopted in June 2019. We’re not just talking about municipal operations or new building construction, though these are part of the resolution. No, this is about city-wide carbon neutrality, including the electrical grid and privately owned transportation and... Read more
Some researchers are trying to debunk the conventional wisdom that transitioning to renewables will cost utilities more.
Far from costing more, investments in grid renewables should provide considerable savings for utilities globally, according to a new analysis published in the journal Joule.
“A rapid green energy transition will likely result in trillions of net savings,” according to the researchers, who add that “... Read more
In the world of policy and regulation, the difference between consumptive and non-consumptive water use is like night and day.
As individuals and organizations, we all use water for drinking, washing, and flushing away waste. We install low-flow fixtures (sometimes by regulation) and fix leaks to save water—especially when we’re faced with drought conditions. LEED and other programs give us credit for using less.
But not... Read more
Daikin is speeding the transition to lower global warming potential with its Atmosphera ductless heat pumps, which use R32 refrigerants.
Air-source heat pumps are a great alternative to heating and cooling systems that run on fossil fuels. They offer the promise of significantly reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings and speeding our way to all-electric buildings. The challenge with these systems is that their primary refrigerant—R410a—has a global... Read more
Environmental activists have stopped permitting of a large petrochemical plant in Louisiana’s “cancer alley,” a rare win for the environment and local communities.
St. James Parish is home to 12 petrochemical plants that make PVC and a number of other plastics. Located in Louisiana’s “cancer alley,” it is also the epicenter of fights over pollution, health, and social justice issues in the area’s historically Black communities. When FG LA L.L.C., an affiliate of Taiwan-based Formosa... Read more
The ‘Universal Building’ would be able to accommodate new uses as market needs shift, extending building life and minimizing waste.
Like your smartphone, our buildings are reaching obsolescence before the end of their useful lives.
Market needs change on a dime—sometimes faster than a building is constructed. And disruptions can reverse interest in certain building types, as was the case with commercial spaces during the pandemic. These shifts can result in... Read more
“There is no pathway to a zero-emissions building sector without zeroing out emissions from America’s 325 billion square feet of existing buildings,” according to 2018 AIA president Carl Elefante.
But making that transition will be a monumental task. Existing buildings are all over the place in terms of age, condition,... Read more
Launched as a pilot program for 2021, the guidelines set a sustainability benchmark and provide uniformity in reporting... Read more
The Biden administration is going bigger on embodied carbon by committing to lower emissions from 98% of its construction material purchases. New standards will apply to all federally funded projects.
The U.S. government is vowing to buy lower-carbon construction materials—and to require projects using federal funds to do the same.
Details of the federal government’s so-called Buy Clean Initiative—a program that will require procurement of construction materials that have lower carbon footprints than standard products—are still under... Read more