News

News Brief

With SE 2050, structural engineers commit to eliminating embodied carbon from buildings.

November 4, 2019

“All structural engineers shall understand, reduce, and ultimately eliminate embodied carbon in their projects by 2050.” Simply worded but dauntingly difficult to achieve, that is the Structural Engineers’ 2050 (SE 2050) Challenge.

Structural elements like concrete and steel are a massive source of so-called embodied carbon—the... 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

Contrary to the Emily Dickinson poem, hope is not the thing with feathers. To work, it’s got to have its feet firmly planted on the ground.

November 4, 2019

It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine.

–R.E.M.

It’s not just coming: it’s here. Climate change has crept up on us. Farms, entire ecosystems—even whole nations—are collapsing. Our food and fresh water supplies are gradually shrinking. More and more property and land are being destroyed. People are going to... 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 Brief

More and more cities are encouraging electrification by regulating natural gas hookups, while other areas face supply shortages.

October 7, 2019

Berkeley, California, started the trend. In July 2019, it outlawed natural gas hookups in new construction. The law will take effect in 2020 starting with single-family homes, and it will eventually apply to all buildings. The primary goal? To completely electrify new buildings as the grid gets cleaner and thereby reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)... Read more

News Analysis

The sustainable building sector has forgotten a vital tenet, says the NAACP, and now is the time to do something about it.

October 7, 2019

Green buildings are for the privileged.

That’s a really tough reality for most of us to face, but it’s our current state, according to Jacqueline Patterson, senior director of the environmental and climate justice program at the NAACP. She’s on a quest change that.

It all started when Patterson was researching sustainable... Read more

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

Product Review

Linoleum’s natural ingredients often make it the best resilient flooring option. Corques Liquid Linoleum is a fluid-applied version for seamless applications.

October 7, 2019

Linoleum is regarded as one of the most sustainable options for resilient flooring, and for good reasons. It’s made from natural materials—typically a combination of linseed oil, pine rosin, wood dust, cork, limestone, and colorants attached to a jute backing. And linoleum is a versatile flooring that has been manufactured in some form for more... 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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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