News

News Analysis

Buy Clean California requires contractors to specify lower-carbon products, but industry pressure quashed the law’s potential.

January 6, 2018

Portland cement, the major binding agent in concrete, is one of the single largest emitters of greenhouse gases. But thanks to lobbying by industry groups, you won’t find concrete in California’s new carbon legislation, the Buy Clean California Act.

The law requires contractors to get environmental product declarations (EPDs) for... Read more

Product Review

Highlights from the 2017 Greenbuild Expo floor include dynamic glazing, heat-pump technologies, and blown-in wool insulation.

January 6, 2018

Every year we walk the Greenbuild Expo floor, looking at products and talking with manufacturers to find out what is new in the green building products world. This year’s show added vendors from the ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX), but we found some gems on both floors, including electrochromic glazing, pelletized wool insulation, and cold-... Read more

News Brief

New study describes the value of occupant stories in evaluating high-performance buildings.

January 5, 2018

You can learn a lot by simply talking to people. That’s the idea behind a new take on the value of speaking directly with occupants to understand the impact of design. In the paper “Oh behave! Survey stories and lessons learned from building occupants in high-performance buildings,” Julia Day, assistant professor at Washington State University... Read more

News Analysis

The goal is to move energy codes forward more rapidly.

January 5, 2018

When President Trump backpedaled the United States out of the Paris Accord last year, the New Buildings Institute (NBI) was in the midst of designing new provisions for energy codes that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

At the time, NBI was developing energy code strategies for 12 cities from the Zero Cities Project... Read more

Op-Ed

Finding opportunities in the spate of recent devastating natural disasters.

January 5, 2018

In re-reading the feature article I wrote this time last year for The BuildingGreen Report after President Trump was elected, 20 Ways to Advance Sustainability in the Next Four Years, I was reminded of just how optimistic—indeed quixotic—I can be. Perhaps it is this serial optimism that has allowed me to keep at it some 40 years after I first... Read more

Blog Post

Simple ways to measure moisture content deeper into building assemblies

January 5, 2018

Typical pins on moisture meters are ½ inch long, meaning you can only determine moisture content by weight near the surface of building assemblies and materials (including wood, gypsum wallboard, and concrete). But I often find myself needing to assess moisture content of first condensing surfaces in walls and ceilings or well below... Read more

News Brief

Based on Christopher Alexander’s ideas about design, a new degree program combines ecological thought, building skills, and self-awareness.

January 5, 2018

How can we prepare the next generation of building professionals to create architecture that is environmentally responsible as well as beautiful and humane?—or “whole” and “living,” to use terms coined by architect and theorist Christopher Alexander.

Alexander—best known for his work producing and testing a “pattern language,” a... Read more

News Analysis

A Q&A with Brad Liljequist, director of the Zero Energy Program at ILFI.

January 5, 2018

The net-zero-energy building market has come a long way since the first commercial projects to target net zero were constructed nearly two decades ago. They include the Oberlin College Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies in 2000 and the Audubon Center at Debs Park in Los Angeles, which earned a LEED Platinum rating in 2003.... Read more

News Analysis

LEED v4.1, a new iteration of the green building rating system will be piloted in 2018 with the goal of smoothing over rough spots.

December 11, 2017

The latest version of LEED, LEED v4, became mandatory a little over a year ago. That was just after the U.S. Green Building Council’s 2016 Greenbuild conference. This year at Greenbuild, USGBC announced that it is fast-tracking development of a new iteration, LEED v4.1.

“LEED v4 has been out a long time,” says Corey Enck, director of... Read more

News Analysis

How an architectural firm, timber company, and carpenters’ union are helping communities rebuild after Maria, Harvey, and the California wildfires.

December 11, 2017

One disaster after another, like a game of dominoes, toppled communities across North America this summer and fall.  

Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria, the earthquake in Mexico, the wildfires in northern California. More than enough to numb the most empathetic into listless apathy.

But those in the building industry are not sitting... Read more

News Brief

A new program offers reduced interest rates plus a refund on Fitwel certification fees.

December 11, 2017

Affordable housing developers have a new reason to prioritize health and safety: it can save them money. The new program Healthy Housing Rewards, from lender Fannie Mae, provides loan recipients with a reduced interest rate when projects achieve certification through the health-promoting program Fitwel (see Fitwel: Science That Works). Fannie... Read more

News Analysis

A city suffering from ozone pollution and the heat-island effect approves a ballot measure requiring green roofs.

December 11, 2017

More than half of the voters in Denver approved a ballot initiative in November requiring new buildings 25,000 square feet or larger to build green roofs or roofs that combine vegetation and solar arrays. The rules also apply when additions are built that expand a building to 25,000 square feet or more, and to existing buildings of that size... Read more

Primer

A comparison of community-scale certification programs.

December 11, 2017

Within the design and construction industry there is a growing sense of urgency to find sustainability and resilience solutions that can be applied at scale. One way to do this is to focus on neighborhoods, and over the past few years several organizations have responded by launching programs designed to support this strategy. (For an in-depth... Read more

Feature Article

By working at the neighborhood scale, designers and developers can more dramatically improve environmental performance and social equity.

December 11, 2017

The building industry has set ambitious goals for sustainability and resilience, and is recognizing that a building-by-building approach is not enough. At the same time there is an increasing focus on making healthy, vibrant, and resilient communities accessible to all.

“There’s certainly an urgency. I think people really understand... Read more

News Analysis

If we can reduce waste here, we can do it anywhere.

December 11, 2017

Waste is a design flaw.

That’s the thinking behind the Zero Waste Design Guidelines, recently issued by the NYC chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The guidelines recommend a set of best practices for designing buildings, streets, and neighborhoods to reduce the amount of material that ends up in landfills.... Read more

Webcast

December 6, 2017

LEED v4 has introduced a whole new set of frameworks and criteria for choosing materials that are better for human health and for the planet. These changes are important. From climate change to habitat loss to hazardous substances, we have some major challenges on our hands and the products we build with are a big part of the problem!

... Read more

Blog Post

Managing the high GWP refrigerants used in refrigeration and HVAC systems is one of our most pressing climate challenges. November’s BuildingGreen Report feature article explains why.

December 6, 2017

Paul Hawken’s book Drawdown looks at a number of strategies that would “reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon within thirty years.” Based on careful analysis, his team concluded that the number-one action we can take to reverse anthropogenic global warming is to manage high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. Wait…what?! What about... Read more

Blog Post

How to use geological, soil, and historical maps to keep your basement dry

November 30, 2017

When we bought our home (built in 1907), I called in a favor from an electrician friend of mine to upgrade the 60-amp to a 100-amp service. Having worked together in New Hampshire where many of our projects were on sites full of ledge, he smirked when he told me: “Here, you go try and drive this 12-foot copper grounding rod!” No more than 10... Read more

Product Review

Our innovative Top 10 product selections improve IAQ, save energy and water, contain fewer hazardous materials, and promote material transparency.

November 9, 2017

For the past 16 years, BuildingGreen has selected ten green building products that significantly improve upon standard “business-as-usual” practices. These products improve indoor air quality, consume less energy and water, reduce waste, and can even have a net-positive impact on the environment.

This... Read more

News Brief

RELi is USGBC’s new standard for projects designed to endure and recover from extreme weather.

November 7, 2017

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched a new certification Tuesday that sets the first standard for designing buildings and communities that withstand and recover from natural disasters including floods, tornadoes, droughts, and wildfires.

Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI... Read more