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The Architecture Lobby
The relationship between the business of architecture and the nature of architectural work is fraught. Many celebrated firms have been built on the backs of young and often unpaid labor. To call this practice an open secret would be inaccurate. It isn’t a secret at all; for some firms, it’s standard operating practice.

The Architecture Lobby, founded in 2013 by Peggy Deamer, has begun the long and laborious process of addressing these issues. Today, the group has 16 chapters and 450 dues-paying members. (Yearly dues amount to 0.2% of total income, or about $100 for a $50,000 salary.) Recently, I spoke with the Lobby’s national organizer, Dexter Walcott, about the group’s recent efforts, its campaign to unionize the field, the Green New Deal, and the future of work.

MCP: Martin C. Pedersen
DW: Dexter Walcott

MCP: What’s the Lobby working on right now?

DW: The top three initiatives are the unionization campaign, the socializing of small firms, and the Green New Deal campaign. We’re also working to expand the “Not Our Wall” campaign to focus on the detention infrastructure, beyond the physical barriers and surveillance infrastructures.

MCP: So there are both national and local Lobby initiatives?

DW: Yes. There are chapters that are working on issues that are purely local. And then some chapters blur a lot, where there will be a national campaign that has a strong presence in our regional chapters. The “Not Our Wall” campaign, for instance, had a strong presence in the California chapters. The Green New Deal is a national campaign, but the New York chapter has a very strong presence with that.

MCP: Let’s pull a few of these issues out for closer examination, starting with union recognition. What’s your goal here, and how do you see that playing out?

DW: The end goal is to form unions of architectural workers. There are a number of ways that it can play out. One type of union we organize would be a single-issue union, where we would begin to organize architectural workers around a single problem within the profession and organize workplaces to form collective bargaining units around that issue. For instance, something like the eight-hour workday would be appealing in the profession. That covers a lot of the issues with one broad stroke, whether it’s the culture of overwork or the inability of people to have time to take care of themselves or their families outside of the profession. We could organize workplaces under a contract that only has one clause in it that would say, “We’re going to work for eight hours, five days a week.” That’s something that is appealing to the Architectural Lobby at the moment. And it’s so necessary in the profession right now.

MCP: Is your goal to go through the actual process of becoming a legally recognized union?

DW: Not necessarily. We’re more interested in helping workers build collective bargaining units. At the end of the day, the Lobby isn’t so concerned about being the legal entity. We want to see the sector have unions. The unionization working group has put together an amazing pamphlet on the steps to do this.

MCP: So some chapters might, ultimately, be purely local?

DW: Yes. Right now we’re organizing ourselves and trying to understand where the organization has power, and where we can leverage that power. It starts with a belief that we need to get tight around an argument, if we’re going to start organizing other people to commit to it. We don’t want to build an organization that just brings together like-minded people. We must become good at winning contentious arguments. You can’t organize a workplace by assuming, “Oh, everyone who already thinks like me will automatically join my group.” You have to engage in discussions with people who say, “I don’t think unions are going to help our industry”; or ask questions like, “Will that cut my pay?”; or say, “My boss is really good to me right now.”

It’s also important to have conversations with people about preserving things that are good about the profession. We need to reinforce the idea that unions aren’t just for times when everything’s falling apart, but are a way to ensure that things stay great and can get better. But the Lobby’s core position is
It has been a banner year for Kate Simonen and her burgeoning band of embodied carbon busters, bent on reducing the negative environmental impacts of building production. On Nov. 19, Simonen and her EC-reduction champions debuted the first free-to-use digital tool to calculate EC in materials. The same day, Marin County, Calif., approved the nation’s first low-carbon concrete building code. And after a slow start in 2017, the free-to-join Embodied Carbon Network finally gained traction.

As founding director of the decade-old Carbon Leadership Forum (CLF) at the University of Washington, Simonen has been stirring all three pots. “Kate is our figurehead,” says Wil V. Srubar, a professor of engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and an ECN co-chair with Simonen and Erin McDade, senior program director of Architecture 2030. “It’s been a wild ride the last 12 months, and Kate has been a great driver,” he adds.

EC, the sum total of greenhouse gases emitted from material extraction to the jobsite, “is an entry point to acknowledge that we need to completely decarbonize” the buildings sector—not just operational carbon, says engineer-architect-researcher Simonen, also a professor in the university’s department of architecture.

Perhaps Simonen’s biggest EC-reduction coup is the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator. “EC3 is transformative,” says Ari Frankel, assistant vice president at Alexandria Real Estate Equities, one of six developers piloting EC3.

CLF incubated EC3 through a $713,000 grant from the Charles Pankow Foundation and other sponsors. Simonen is lead investigator, with teammates Phil Northcott, Change Labs CEO; Stacy Smedley, a director of sustainability for Skanska USA; and Don Davies, president of Magnusson Klemencic Associates.

While incubating EC3, Simonen also helped create Marin County’s low-carbon concrete code—spearheaded by Top 25 Newsmaker Bruce King—by leading its steering committee. She was “instrumental” in creating consensus among diverse stakeholders, says Alice Zanmiller, a planner for Marin County’s sustainability team.

In 2017, CLF created ECN to scale up the movement. A global and virtual communication platform for practitioners, educators, government officials and material producers, ECN is driving grass-roots change, including local policy initiatives.

Last year, the group grew from 600 to 1,800 members, located in 166 cities in 22 nations. Local chapters that hold in-person workshops sprang up in Seattle, the Bay Area, New York City, Boston and Vancouver, B.C. Chapter discussions are underway in Austin, Atlanta, Toronto and the Denver-Boulder area.

A native of Livermore, Calif., Simonen studied architectural engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and then received two master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley—one in structural engineering and the mechanics of materials in 1991, and the other in architecture the following year.

While in practice, Simonen learned about using fly ash to lower concrete’s cement content. Later, she tried calculating the carbon footprint of green prefab homes imported from China. Eventually, she realized she was interested in research. In 2009, she landed at the university. Soon she had mastered environmental-impact life-cycle analyses for buildings.

Funded by its 42 member firms, CLF is “informing, inspiring and enabling” buildings professionals to reduce and ultimately eliminate EC. Currently, CLF is rallying green-building groups to collaborate and reduce duplicate efforts.

Even with EC-reduction progress, Simonen doesn’t expect to see any meaningful impact on the environment for at least 10 years. Still, she soldiers on, saying, “we have to try to make a difference.”
Manim8/Blendswap, TheStranger/Blendswap
And no amount of data or complex modeling will rectify the building industry’s staggering impact on the environment. Design culture itself needs to change.

For the past eight years, I’ve spent every day of my professional life enabling an industry that is responsible for nearly 40% of global climate emissions. I don’t work for an oil or gas company. I don’t work for an airline. I’m an architect.

The environmental impacts of the built environment are staggering. Although it’s become mainstream to discuss energy efficiency and advocate for minimizing those impacts, architects, engineers, and planners have yet to truly reckon with the magnitude and consequences of everyday design decisions. Not only do we burn fossil fuels to heat and cool most buildings, but construction itself is responsible for plenty of global emissions. Construction requires massive amounts of concrete, steel, aluminum, and glass—all of which are carbon-intensive materials. Their emissions extend up and down the supply chain, crossing property boundaries, economic sectors, and markets. While architects are not fully responsible for steel manufacturing or concrete production per se, there is a direct line from the material specifications that architects write to the steel mills of China, the coal mines of Appalachia, the brick kilns of India, or clear-cut forests in the Pacific Northwest or the Amazon.

It is time for the design community to come to terms with carbon and climate change—both the reality of our shared climate emergency and the very personal implications of the building industry’s role in perpetuating it. Only then can we do the hard work of connecting our climate concern with our day-to-day actions, transforming guilt into collective change.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of measuring the emissions caused by buildings: operational carbon (the emissions associated with energy used to operate a building) and embodied carbon (the emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole life cycle of a building).

Programs such as LEED, Passive House, and the Living Building Challenge focus on decreasing the former—operational carbon. This is a laudable goal; after all, building operations account for 28% of global carbon emissions, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings through widespread electrification and through decarbonization of the energy grid is essential.

However, we’ve come to recognize that it is not enough for architects and engineers to focus solely on operational carbon. For decades, we have been ignoring the role of embodied emissions in global carbon budgets.

Embodied carbon from building materials and construction currently represents at least 11% of global carbon emissions, much of which can be attributed to just three materials: concrete, iron, and steel. However, that seemingly small slice of the full carbon pie can be misleading. Global construction is proceeding at an incredible pace—with roughly 6.13 billion square feet of construction each year and global building stock expected to double in the next 30 years. When we look at new buildings anticipated to be built between now and 2050, embodied carbon, also known as “upfront carbon” because it is released before a building is even occupied, is projected to account for nearly half of total new construction emissions. For practicing architects, engineers, policymakers, and anyone who cares about climate strategy, this should give us pause.

In 2018, a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, asked two pressing questions: How can the global community reach the 1.5ºC target laid out by the Paris Agreement, and what happens if we fail? The report has two major takeaways. First, it is still possible to meet our climate targets, but only with immediate and unprecedented action. Second, the world presented if we fail to meet this target, by even a modest-sounding half-degree, are bleak—widespread ecosystem destruction, financial instability, growing social inequity, conflict and unrest, the disappearance of landmasses and nations. The scenarios are so clearly articulated, the models so robust, and the science so well documented, that they have ignited new urgency to find pathways across all sectors to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and accelerate our progress towards a 1.5ºC pathway. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near meeting these targets. Last week, the UN Environment Program issued its annual
Climate Reality
o its great credit, the American Institute of Architects recently denounced the Trump administration’s decision to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. This may put the professional organization on the right side of history, but it’s unlikely to sway any hardened hearts and minds in Washington. Obviously, the executive branch is worse than useless on this issue: not just an impediment to change, but a malevolent force for willful inaction. It’s hard to see it as anything less than an enemy of the climate.

Until this odious cast of characters in changes, climate activists must turn their attention elsewhere. Fortunately there’s an under-the-radar lobbying effort underway in California, by the AIA’s state chapter, that holds the potential to totally transform the building sector. In July, the organization’s Committee on the Environment, in collaboration with Edward Mazria of Architecture 2030, persuaded the California’s AIA’s governing board to support the adoption of a statewide Zero Code as soon as possible. The organization sent a letter to the governor in September, co-signed by leading firms, virtually all of the local chapters, as well as the cities of Berkeley, Santa Monica, Fremont, San Luis Obispo, and Culver City.

Green buildings in California would no longer be about rewarding good intentions or being less bad, no longer be about commemorative plaques or LEED ratings. Emissions-free buildings would be required by law.

If enacted, a Zero Code would essentially mandate emissions-free new buildings almost immediately. (Architecture 2030 defines a Zero Net Carbon building as “a highly energy efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.”) Green buildings in California would no longer be about rewarding good intentions or being less bad, no longer be about commemorative plaques or LEED ratings.

Emissions-free buildings would be required by law.

Before we go any further, though, the logical question to ask is the obvious one: Is this even possible? Is it politically feasible? For all of the well-meaning rhetoric swirling around the idea of a Green New Deal, none of it can even begin to happen without fundamental changes in policy, primarily at the state and local level. In California, the adoption of a Zero Code is largely dependent on the strong support of Governor Gavin Newsom, who has not weighed in on the issue.

Mazria initially approached the California AIA with a bolder approach, pushing the idea of an immediate Zero Code adoption via executive order, presumably the fastest route possible. As it turns out, this isn’t an option in California, where energy codes for buildings must be vetted and approved by the California Energy Commission. (The next overhaul will occur in 2022.) The governor, however, exerts a fair amount of control over that body. In two years, Governor Newsom will have either appointed or reappointed a majority of the commissioners on the five-member governing board. If he truly wanted to kick start the Green New Deal, putting his political muscle behind adoption of the Zero Code would be a monumental first step.

In the meantime, AIA California is working on several fronts, pushing and pulling at three different levers of power. “We’re organizing opportunities to enlist Governor Newsom’s active support,” says San Francisco architect William Leddy, who with Mazria helped convince the chapter to support adoption of the clean code. “Thanks to Michael Malinowski, the AIA’s government liaison, we’ve also discovered that there’s an avenue that might be much easier to attempt right now. And that’s to introduce the Zero Code immediately as a ‘reach code’ within CALGreen, which is the California Green Building Standard. We believe this approach doesn’t require the energy commission process. It would give cities around the state the option to adopt the Zero Code now, while we continue to pursue formal statewide adoption through the lengthy code-revision process.”

The reason these considerations are even possible is why Mazria approached the California AIA in the first place. Despite the apocalyptic fires, the rolling blackouts, the somewhat predictable this-is-the-end-of-California-as-we-know-it pronouncements, the state is well under way in its eventual transitio
There was no formal agenda on Feb. 12, 2018, when Bruce King and William Kelley met for lunch at the Lotus Cafe in San Rafael, Calif. But building regulation is a favorite topic of King’s, a structural engineer devoted to reducing carbon emissions related to buildings. So it was no surprise to Kelley, Marin County’s deputy director for building and safety, that King suggested it would “be nice” to craft a low-carbon concrete building code “to rein in the profligate overuse” of carbon-intensive cement in concrete.

Kelley liked the idea of regulating concrete’s embodied carbon (EC)—the greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted during production. But funding was needed to support the writing of a code for low-EC concrete.

Two weeks later, King happened to be at a meeting of an ad hoc group trying to rebuild sustainably after California’s devastating 2017 wine-country fires. There, he heard an announcement that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District would soon offer grants for novel methods of addressing GHGs. He alerted Kelley. Soon, Marin County applied for a BAAQMD grant, which it received on Oct. 4, 2018.

The funds, a maximum of $206,456, set the wheels in motion for developing the model Bay Area Low-Carbon Concrete Code. If approved by Marin County’s board of supervisors on Nov. 19, the code, unprecedented in the U.S. because it would limit EC in private—not just public—projects, would be the first of its kind in the nation.

Kelley likes the Bay Area model code because it is simple to use for customers, plan checkers and enforcers. The document, only four pages long, has two sets of compliance pathways for plain and reinforced concrete: 1) limit cement in either the mix or the project; or 2) limit the global warming potential (GWP) either of a concrete mix—based on an approved environmental product declaration (EPD)—or a project, taking into account all the mix designs.

If adopted, the code would apply only to unincorporated Marin County, population 60,000. That doesn’t bother King. “We hope it will be the code heard around the world,” says the founder of the 20-year-old Ecological Building Network (EBNet).

Kelley agrees, saying, “If we can do this here, the code could serve as a template for other places.” Several other Bay Area counties are likely to follow suit if Marin County adopts it, he adds.

King is setting even wider sights on the regulation of EC—the GHG emissions associated with raw material supply, manufacturing, transport, construction, maintenance, decommissioning and recycling of a material, a building or infrastructure. He wants the Bay Area code to serve as a model for other nations, especially India and China. He also wants EC codes for other high-EC products, such as most refrigerants.

EC, formerly called embodied energy, is not exactly a household term in construction. The main focus in green building codes and certification programs—such as LEED and the Living Building Challenge—has been on reducing the operational carbon (OC) emitted by buildings.

EC plus OC make up the carbon footprint of a building. Initial or up-front EC, which accounts for most of a material’s or a product’s carbon, refers to GHG emissions from the cradle to the site gate.

“Many construction materials can be made to very similar performance standards with 50% or more carbon savings,” because manufacturing process, mix composition, recycled content and electricity or energy source have a dramatic effect on carbon emitted during manufacture, according to the University of Washington’s Carbon Leadership Forum. CLF is a nonprofit coalition of 40 construction industry sponsors, founded in 2009 by its director, Kate Simonen, also a professor at the College of the Built Environments.

“Carbon-aware specification and procurement policies, backed by a contractual requirement to deliver verified EPDs for materials delivered to sites, can drive change,” asserts CLF.

Reducing initial EC is no easy task. It has been fraught with problems—from a lack of product and material data to data too complex to evaluate. “It’s an incredibly daunting and new challenge to address in a design process,” says Victoria Burrows, director of Advancing Net Zero for the World Green Building Council.

A net-zero EC building is one that has minimal up-front carbon, with all remaining
Inspired by the apocalyptic imagery from climate change projections, sculptor David Černý and architect Tomáš Císař from the studio Black n´ Arch have proposed a visually striking skyscraper that’s sparked controversy with its inclusion of an enormous shipwreck-like structure. Dubbed the TOP TOWER, the project proposed for Prague rises to a height of 450 feet, which means that if built, the tower would be the tallest building in the Czech Republic. The project is led by developer Trigema who aims to create a multifunctional, LEED Gold high-rise that includes rental apartments, a public observation area and commercial uses on the lower floors.

TOP TOWER has been proposed to be located near the metro station Nové Butovice on the new nearly one-kilometer-long pedestrian zone in Prague. This location is outside of the protected urban conservation zone and would be far enough away from the city center that it would not disrupt the historic city skyline. Taking advantage of its height, the building would offer a public observation area at the highest point of the building where visitors can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of Prague.

Rental housing will make up the majority of the mixed-use TOP TOWER, while offices, retail and a multifunctional cultural center will be located on the lower levels. Parking will be tucked underground. The rusty shipwreck-like sculpture integrated into the building will offer opportunities for outdoor spaces and additional landscaping.

“We have been preparing the TOP TOWER project for more than two years and the final version was preceded by eight other alternative solutions. During this time, we have collected and are still collecting suggestions from experts, state and local authorities, and of course the local public, whose representatives have already been and will continue to hold a number of participatory meetings,” says Marcel Soural, Chairman of the Board of Trigema a.s. Trigema estimates that the construction for TOP TOWER will begin in 2021 and take less than three years complete.

Scott Judy
With Miami the setting for its 2019 convention, the American Society of Civil Engineers unveiled an initial proof-of-concept vision for a sea-based “Floating City,” one of five concepts included within the association’s Future World Vision: Infrastructure Reimagined project.

The project, which ASCE established as a separate entity known as FWV Inc., represents a four-year commitment by the organization. In a report released earlier this year announcing early analysis from the effort, ASCE stated that Future World Visions “mapped out key trends and potential outcomes and analyzed a range of plausible future-based scenarios to model how society might interface with cities, infrastructure and operational systems, while also illustrating what civil engineers must do to develop solutions for the changing future.”

Using six key, long-term trends—climate change, alternative energy, high-tech construction/advanced materials, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and policy and funding—ASCE created five Future World concepts: Mega City, Rural City, Floating City, Frozen City and Offworld City.

To Gerald Buckwalter, ASCE’s chief operating and strategy officer, the Future Worlds project is an important step for the engineering community to begin to plan for a rapidly changing world.

“There’s a convergence of some significantly disruptive trends occurring that, in combination, will probably cause more change to the engineering profession and to built infrastructure in the next 50 to 100 years than we’ve seen in over a thousand years,” Buckwalter told Engineering News-Record at the convention, held earlier this month. The effort will position ASCE to serve as a “thought leader” on this topic, he added.

ASCE hired Alex McDowell, of Experimental Design Inc., who previously served as production designer for the futuristic sci-fi film “Minority Report,” to lead the project’s conceptualizing. McDowell then led a team that incorporated input from dozens of subject-matter experts to create a digital model envisioning the detailed development of these city concepts up to 50 years into the future.

By creating five different prototypes, Buckwalter says, it’s possible to identify the implications for civil engineering that are common among all of the future scenarios.

“This will allow us to discover the durability of some of our tools and practices now, and some things that are just going to have to be different, and give us plenty of runway to figure that out” he says.

Surely hoping for considerable “runway” for long-term planning was Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez (R), who was on hand to offer a response to McDowell’s unveiling of the Floating City.

In news related to the trends of climate change and rising sea levels envisioned by ASCE’s Floating City concept, Suarez reported that the city had just one day prior passed a resolution supporting the concept of a “carbon dividend” tax on carbon-emitting entities.

Suarez cited Miami’s interactions with the Netherlands and New Orleans as examples of how the city is planning to survive rising sea levels. “It is possible to convert water from an enemy into an asset,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to seek to do as we move into this new future where climate is certainly one of the main factors that we need to plan for if we want to be here forever.”
MVRDV has unveiled designs for the Green Villa, a striking mixed-use building draped in greenery for the Dutch village of Sint-Michielsgestel. Created in collaboration with Van Boven Architecten, the four-story Green Villa will be located on the town’s southern edge and will use a grid “rack” system to host a wide variety of potted plants, bushes and trees, including the likes of forsythia, jasmine, pine and birch. The project will be a landmark project for the village and will promote sustainability with improved biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

Located on a corner lot next to the Dommel River, the 1,400-square-meter Green Villa will house a new ground-floor office space for real estate developer and client, Stein, as well as five apartments on the three floors above in addition to underground parking. The building shape relates to the existing urban fabric with its adoption of the mansard roof shape used on the neighboring buildings. A new architectural typology is also put forth with the use of a strikingly lush facade that will help the structure blend in with the nearby river, fields and trees.

“This design is a continuation of our research into ‘facade-less’ buildings and radical greening,” explained Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “The idea from the nineties of city parks as an oasis in the city is too limited. We need a radical ‘green dip’: as will be shown soon in a book by The Why Factory with the same title, we should also cover roofs and high-rise facades with greenery. Plants and trees can help us to offset CO2 emissions, cool our cities and promote biodiversity.”

“This design is a continuation of our research into ‘facade-less’ buildings and radical greening,” explained Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “The idea from the nineties of city parks as an oasis in the city is too limited. We need a radical ‘green dip’: as will be shown soon in a book by The Why Factory with the same title, we should also cover roofs and high-rise facades with greenery. Plants and trees can help us to offset CO2 emissions, cool our cities and promote biodiversity.”

The Green Villa will be defined by a square grid four bays wide and three bays deep, in which modules for bedrooms and living spaces will slot inside. The facade will be made up of a “rack” of shelves of varying depths to support a “three-dimensional arboretum,” and each plant will have its own nameplate with additional information. The plants will be watered year-round with a sensor-controlled irrigation system that uses recycled rainwater. Construction is scheduled to start in 2020.

PAD Studio
The Lane End House by PAD studio incorporates natural building material and sustainable solutions to increase energy-efficiency. The resulting design creates a passive home with a smaller environmental footprint and a focus on sustainability.

The exterior of the house contains balcony areas that act as solar shading for the property, complete with thoughtfully-placed openings to create a greater distribution of natural ventilation to rid the home of intense heat during the hot Summer months.

Landscape-wise, the clients wanted to incorporate a natural feel as often as possible, with large windows to connect the inhabitants with the outdoors and a functioning herb garden located on the first floor balcony. The placement of the grand windows creates natural sunlight to light the home during the day while incorporating more profound landscape views.

According to the client, “we wanted a house that was big enough to comfortably accommodate the two of us and our lifestyle – and no bigger. For us that meant carefully considered, flexible, multipurpose spaces that created a sense of space whilst retaining a modest footprint.”

High quality, insulated timber wood used to create the frame both reduces the need for artificial cooling and heating in the home, and provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional (and heavy carbon emission-inducing) building materials. Additionally, the timber is locally-produced from renewable sources and the brick used to make the fireplace is hand-made by local vendors. On the ground floor, concrete was inserted to make the structure even more air-tight and regulate interior temperatures even further.

The builders installed a MVHR system designed to recycle heat produced from the kitchen and bathroom and mix it with clean air circulated through the ventilation and naturally colder areas of the house.

In addition to completing the standard methods such as SAP calculations and EPS ratings, the impressive home was also built to Passive House ideology.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Informa Connect announced that Former President Barack Obama will speak at the Wednesday keynote of the 2019 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. This year’s conference will take place Nov. 19-22 in Atlanta, Ga. at the LEED Gold Georgia World Congress Center. Registration is now open.

“USGBC is deeply honored that President Obama has accepted our invitation to speak at Greenbuild 2019,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO, USGBC. “President Obama is a global leader and a longtime friend of the green building community. While in office, his administration negotiated the landmark Paris Climate Accords, expanded the impact of our field and helped open the door for energy efficiency investments in both the public and private sectors. I know that when he joins us on the keynote stage in November, he will impart his ideas, passion and vision to our growing global green building family.”

Barack H. Obama is the 44th President of the United States. He took office at a moment of crisis unlike any America had seen in decades – a nation at war, a planet in peril, the American Dream itself threatened by the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. And yet, despite all manner of political obstruction, Obama’s leadership helped rescue the economy, revitalize the American auto industry, reform the health care system to cover another 20 million Americans, and put the country on a firm course to a clean energy future – all while overseeing the longest stretch of job creation in American history.

“As the green building movement evolves and continues to permeate our everyday lives, President Obama is a valuable leader to bring that vision to life,” said Andrew Mullins, CEO, Informa Connect. “His commitment to unite humanity in combating a changing climate is a great example to follow. At the 2019 event, our attendees, exhibitors, and all participants of Greenbuild will be celebrating the notion that every human, regardless of circumstances, deserves to live a long and healthy life. There is no better voice or embodiment of that than President Obama.”

Previous Greenbuild keynote speakers have included Ret. Gen. Colin Powell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, famed architect Bjarke Ingles, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, human rights activist Amal Clooney, former Vice President and climate activist Al Gore, and many others.

Greenbuild, the largest green building conference and expo in the world, is produced by Informa Connect and presented by USGBC. Greenbuild 2019 features four days of networking, educational sessions, green building tours, keynote events, and a robust expo floor.

For more information and to register for Greenbuild, visit greenbuildexpo.org, follow @Greenbuild on Twitter, and use hashtag #Greenbuild19 to join the conversation.
Sidewalk Toronto
North America is on the cusp of a mass timber revolution, and Sidewalk Labs' Waterfront Toronto project is leading the way. But the smart material faces major obstacles.

A building made primarily of wood conjures public fear of fire, but for a growing number of developers, it evokes opportunity. From constructing towering wooden condominiums, to timber college dormitories, to an entire neighborhood built from trees, experts in "mass timber" are creating buildings of the future.

Sidewalk Labs' master plan for a futuristic smart city on the waterfront in Toronto includes an entire neighborhood made of wood, called Quayside, with 10 mixed-use building up to 35 stories.

The plan is audacious, considering that in the U.S., there are only 221 mass timber buildings in the works or fully built, according to the American Wood Council​'s Kenneth Bland.

In most U.S. cities, mass timber buildings, and specifically tall mass timber buildings, are a rarity, if they exist at all.

But architects, city officials and timber advocates across North America are pushing conventional building codes and public perception because of the drastic impact these structures can have on reducing CO2 through carbon sequestration, compared to traditional concrete and steel.

"I think it's a big opportunity for a lot of cities out there ... The impact on reducing carbon emissions on earth could be dramatic," Karim Khalifa, director of buildings innovation at Sidewalk Labs, told Smart Cities Dive. "And that gets me excited."

What is mass timber?

One of the biggest obstacles for city officials is understanding the material. They are more than buildings made of wood — they're defined by their structure. Steel or concrete buildings with wood accents don't count, according to Andrew Tsay Jacobs from architecture firm Perkins and Will.

Mass timber buildings use solid wood panels to frame a building's walls, floors and roofs, creating structures that can reach at least 18 stories, as is the case with the tallest mass timber building in the world in Norway. But these buildings aren't just pure wood. Mass timber construction utilizes engineered wood, or panels glued together, and there are several types: cross-laminated (CLT), glue-laminated and dowel-laminated timber, with CLT being the most common.

While shorter wood buildings have existed for centuries, CLT panel technology is relatively new. It was developed in Europe in the 1990s, the material was only added to the international building code in 2015. Even then, all-wood buildings were capped at six stories, though that will change to allow taller structures in 2021.

Why use mass timber?

A main argument for the use of mass timber is its power to mitigate climate change. The structures can have a lifespan of hundreds of years, and contain the unique ability of effectively sequestering or removing carbon from the atmosphere, which can reverse climate change effects at a large scale.

"Now more than ever, the lens through which we view and imagine ways to redesign and build physical infrastructure, has to be based around sustainability," said Portland, OR Mayor Ted Wheeler during a speech at the International Mass Timber Conference in March.
Natural gas has worn out its welcome in buildings. That was the message from Berkeley, California, when its city council voted earlier this summer to ban gas connections to new small and mid-sized residential buildings. Instead, developers and architects will have to rely on electric appliances such as induction stovetops and heat pumps to serve those buildings, and in time they will have to do so for more projects. As written, the ban automatically expands to cover additional building types as the state certifies that they can cost-effectively forego gas.

Electrification advocates say that the city that kicked-off smoking bans in restaurants and curbside recycling in the U.S. is once again leading a movement. Several dozen California cities, including San Francisco, San Jose, and Sacramento, are racing to enact their own policies to accelerate building electrification, explains Panama Bartholomy, director of California's Building Decarbonization Coalition—an advocacy group representing electric utilities, municipalities, equipment suppliers, and designers. He says 15 to 20 towns hope to pass them within a few months so they can take effect on January 1, 2020, with the latest triennial update to California’s building code.

Similar efforts are afoot in northeastern U.S. states and in Europe, says Mike Henchen, electrification manager for the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), a Colorado-based sustainability think tank. He cites the Netherlands as a frontrunner. A plan currently making its way through parliament maps out a phased, community-by-community decommissioning of the country's gas distribution grids. Some 1.5 million homes would be disconnected by 2030.

Behind these moves are the growing number of jurisdictions setting ambitious goals for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as recent high-profile gas leaks and accidents, says Henchen. California’s climate policy calls for zero net emissions by 2045, and removing natural gas looks like the cheapest way to achieve that in the buildings sector. Heat pumps running on all but the most coal-heavy power grids are already cutting carbon and that benefit will only expand as power systems shift to solar and wind energy. The California Energy Commission’s official energy plan cites, “a growing consensus that building electrification is the most viable and predictable path to zero-emission buildings.”

RMI research published last year found that most all-electric buildings pay for themselves over the long haul, though many cost more to construct—a situation they expect to change as increased use of heat pumps drives down their cost. Seattle-based design firm Mithun says they are finding that building without gas can already be cost-neutral or cheaper to build.

Hilary Noll, a Mithun senior associate in San Francisco, says heat pumps are providing savings for five all-electric multifamily housing projects the firm has underway in the city. She says this is primarily due to federal tax credits for affordable housing tied to energy efficiency targets. Those require the addition of solar water heaters when gas boilers are used, helping trim gas consumption. Without gas, additional savings come from avoided equipment such as gas piping, meters, and combustion venting, as well as simplified fire code compliance. “There's a trickle-down effect,” says Noll, who estimates about $250,000 in savings per project.

Noll says Mithun’s clients favor all-electric design primarily as a response to heightened awareness of climate change. But they also feel they are getting a better building. In most of Mithun’s all-electric projects, these savings are being used to upgrade air filtration systems to protect residents from soot from the region’s increasingly frequent wildfires. Owners also recognize that eliminating gas today will future-proof the structures against expensive retrofits. “When you design for natural gas in a building, you’re designing for obsolescence,” says Noll.

Many California cities plan to ban gas only from new municipal buildings, while pushing private developers to go electric by mandating higher efficiency for gas-equipped buildings. Bartholomy says Los Angeles is following another model pioneered in Vancouver, British Columbia: phasing in limits on carbon emissions that will ratchet down over time.

Whatever model jurisdictions use, Bartholomy says, they will have to stop the
Alamy Stock Photo
The California city on Tuesday voted to ban natural gas hook-ups in new buildings, in a historic move

Berkeley this week became the first city in the United States to ban natural, fossil gas hook-ups in new buildings.

The landmark ordinance was passed into law on Tuesday, after being approved unanimously by the city council the previous week amid resounding public support.

Although Berkeley may be pushing the vanguard, the city is hardly alone. Governments across the US and Europe are looking at strategies to phase out gas. In California alone, dozens of cities and counties are considering eliminating fossil fuel hook-ups to power stoves and heat homes in new buildings, while California state agencies pencil out new rules and regulations that would slash emissions.

Natural gas, it seems, has become the new climate crisis frontline.

Landmark move
Berkeley’s ordinance, which goes into effect on 1 January, will ban gas hook-ups in new multi-family construction, with some allowances for first-floor retail and certain types of large structures.

The reasons behind the decision are multifold. Energy use in buildings accounts for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions in California. If the state is to meet its goal of 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045, the gas will have to go.

For decades, gas was considered among the preferred energy sources for buildings and embraced as a bridge from dirtier fossil fuels to a green energy future.

“There’s been a lingering perception that burning gas was cleaner than electricity, which might have been true 20 years ago when electricity came from burning coal,” said Pierre Delforge, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council . “When we look at electrification policies, we need to think about what the grid will look like in 10 or 20 years, not what it looked like yesterday.”

A state energy commission report released in early 2019 concluded that building electrification was “a key strategy” for reducing the state’s climate impacts, one that “offers the most promising path to achieving [greenhouse gas] reduction targets in the least costly manner”.

Roughly 3% of all natural gas extracted by industry is leaked into the atmosphere, where methane is a far more potent, if shorter lived, greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Berkeley was also motivated to reduce health and safety risks endemic to gas appliances, which release significant emissions and pollutants indoors.

And then there’s the matter of running large amounts of flammable fuel around a state known for large earthquakes. A Pacific Gas and Electric pipeline explosion in 2010 turned a Northern California neighborhood into a smoking crater.

“We really believe we have the underpinnings of good legislation with economic, health and safety and climate impacts,” said the Berkeley councilmember Kate Harrison. “We can do this and we’ll end up a lot healthier and cleaner for it.”

As goes Berkeley, so goes California
Further decarbonizing the grid and electrifying buildings will be key to helping California meet its ambitious climate goals. In 2018, the state passed a law requiring it to derive 100% of its power from zero-carbon energy sources by 2045, and to pursue a “bold path” to get there.

Cities’ individual choices will be crucial in reaching that target. Energy is regulated at the state level, but municipalities control much of their own building codes.

“Climate-minded cities are all pulling their hair out, like, we have a climate emergency, and the national government doesn’t care. But this issue is squarely in their wheelhouse – they’ve just got to think about it in new and creative ways,” said Bruce Nilles, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “We’re dealing with an existential crisis. We’ve got to dust off all the different ways that different actors can do good, progressive, climate-minded things.”

More than 50 cities and counties in California are now considering similar policies to Berkeley’s, either banning or limiting gas and incentivizing full electrification in new buildings.

Panama Bartholomy, director of the Building Decarbonization Coalition, points to this summer as a transformative one: in order to have new ordinances in place by 1 January, municipalities will have until September to pass electrification measures. “Not all 50 are going to make it. I’m thinking a c
ricky jones, courtesy of matthew barnett howland
this house in berkshire, designed by matthew barnett howland with dido milne and oliver wilton with monolithic walls and corbelled roofs, is built almost entirely from solid load-bearing cork. currently on the shortlist for the 2019 RIBA stirling prize, the project is an attempt to make solid walls and roofs from a single bio-renewable material.

matthew barnett howland, dido milne and oliver wilton developed the house as a radically simple form, providing an innovative self-build construction kit designed for disassembly, which is carbon-negative at completion and has exceptionally low whole life carbon. with a focus on simplicity and sustainability, the project provides an inventive solution to the complexities and conventions of modern house construction, built almost entirely from a single bio-renewable material instead of an array of materials, products and specialist sub-systems. designed, tested and developed in partnership with the bartlett school of architecture UCL, the house incorporates a dry-jointed construction system, so that all 1,268 blocks of cork can be reclaimed at end-of-building-life for re-use, recycling, or returning to the biosphere.

the house is conceived as a kit-of-parts, with prefabricated components off-site and assembled by hand on-site without mortar or glue. its structural form reimagines the simple construction principles of ancient stone structures such as celtic beehive houses, while the exposed solid cork creates a sensory environment where walls are gentle to the touch, smell good, and provide soft and calm acoustic conditions.

Danish architectural firm COBE has unveiled designs for a new science museum in the Swedish university city of Lund that will be powered not only with rooftop solar energy but also with pedal power. Museum visitors will be invited to help generate electricity for the carbon-neutral museum by riding “energy bikes” on its concave roof. Constructed primarily from prefabricated cross-laminated timber, the eco-friendly building will be a sustainable landmark and help cement Lund’s position as a science city on the international stage.

Winner of an international competition, COBE’s proposal for the science museum will be located in the heart of the city’s new urban district, Science Villa Scandinavia. The museum will be sandwiched between the high-tech institutions ESS (European Spallation Source) and MAX IV, which are currently under construction and slated to become the world’s most powerful and advanced research facilities within neutron and X-ray research. The science museum’s purpose is to make the institutions’ groundbreaking research more accessible and inviting to both children and adults and to promote general interest in natural science and research.

Spanning a total floor space of 3,500 square meters, the two-story science museum will comprise exhibition halls, a gallery, a reception area, workshops, a museum shop, a restaurant, offices and an auditorium. A viewing platform and patio will top the concave 1,600-square-meter roof as will energy bikes and a solar array large enough to meet the museum’s electricity needs. A large, nature-filled atrium will sit at the heart of the museum to help absorb carbon dioxide, boost biodiversity and serve as a water reservoir and overflow canal in case of extreme rainfall. Excess heat from ESS will be used to heat the museum through an ectogrid system. The timber building is expected to reach completion by 2024.

“Ambitions for the design of the museum have been sky-high, and we feel that we have succeeded in designing a unique and inviting building, whose open atrium and concave roof lend it a dramatic and elegant profile that stands out and offers novel and innovative ways of using a museum,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE. “Moreover, we have made climate, environment and sustainability integral aspects of the process from the outset. By choosing wood as the main construction material, incorporating solar cells, using excess heat and creating an atrium with a rich biodiversity and a rainwater reservoir, among other features, we have achieved our goal and succeeded in creating a CO2-neutral building, if the design is realized as intended. Our hope, as architects, is that we can continue to increase the focus on and improve our ability to create sustainable architecture and construction for the benefit of future generations and the condition of the planet.”

Gustavo Alkmim via PITTA Arquitetura
Designed by Brazilian firm PITTA Arquitetura, the aptly named Casa Modelo serves as an architectural model for sustainable home design. Built using numerous bioclimatic principles, the solar-powered home has minimal environmental impact on its idyllic tropical setting just outside of São Paulo.

Built for the owner of a sustainable real estate development company, Casa Modelo is located in the remote area of Ubatuba. Surrounded by acres of lush, green, protected biospheres that span out to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the home has a setting that is as idyllic as it gets.

The incredible location set the tone for the design. Working with the homeowner, the architects sought to create a model sustainable home that could serve as a platform for future constructions in the area.

At the forefront of the design was the objective of reducing the home’s impact on the pristine natural setting. Inserting the 1,100-square-foot building into the lot with minimal interference was essential to the project. Accordingly, the timber home is elevated off of the landscape by a concrete platform and pillars that allow natural vegetation to grow under and around the structure.

The local climate is marked by severe humidity, ultra hot summers and considerable rainfall, all of which prompted the designers to create a resilient structure that could stand up to the extreme elements. Not only did elevating the home reduce its impact on the landscape, but it also helps keep ground humidity at bay and improves natural air circulation.

Passive, energy-saving features are found throughout the home, namely in the structure’s large openings and high interior ceilings. The open-plan living area and kitchen open up to the outdoors thanks to a long stretch of sliding glass doors with retractable timber screens on either side of the house. The doors can be completely or partially left open to ensure cool temps and natural ventilation on the interior, a feature that also creates a strong, seamless connection with the outdoors.

Paul Bardagiy
ant to save the planet? Quit using language like “save the planet” and talk about individual health instead. That’s the gist of the recently issued Living Standard report commissioned by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

Twenty-five years after the birth of LEED green building standards, the USGBC hired ClearPath Strategies, a global public opinion research company, to measure how the public sees green building. The resulting report shows a public relations problem: Even though building construction and operations account for nearly 40 percent of final global energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, most people don’t make the link between buildings and their environmental impact. This disconnect could be seen as bad news both for the design profession and for the planet. It could also be seen as an invitation to the building industry to take on a much bigger role in building a sustainable future — even if that’s not a word we use to describe it.

The Living Standard report illustrates how survey respondents ranked different concerns (health care and immigration, high; environment, middle) and potential solutions (recycling and water conservation, high; green building, way low). That survey also measured what kind of language made people feel more willing to take action. In the words of the report, “There is a real gap between the conceptual enormity of the problem and how people seek to address it in their daily lives.” Planetary health? Far too big a concept. Individual health? That’s something everyone can get behind.

The USGBC has long been concerned with public perception of green building, and rightly so. Before LEED (the now-standard acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), there were few resources for people who were curious about the energy consumption, materials sourcing, or health impacts of buildings. Gail Vittori, a founding member of the USGBC and current member of the GBCI, describes how LEED and similar programs helped to develop not just a vocabulary but a way of thinking. “The value of a tool like LEED is that, as it started to have market penetration, you literally had hundreds if not thousands of teams of people sitting around a table saying, ‘What’s the VOC content in the paint?’ We take it for granted now, but in the beginning, you’d have to carve out two hours of time to get on the phone with Sherwin Williams to find someone who could begin to answer your question. How is it today that I can go into Home Depot and every single can of paint will not only tell me what the VOC content is, but most of them will be compliant with a very low VOC content? That’s market transformation.” As co-founder, with Pliny Fisk III, of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems (CMPBS), Vittori works with clients to integrate sustainable strategies into large-scale building projects. She notes that she and Fisk now rarely use the words “sustainable” and “green.” “Cleaning up the jargon is what this is about. The point is that you can talk about concepts in a way that doesn’t immediately create this chasm of, ‘Oh, you’re on the inside of that topic,’ or ‘You’re on the outside of that topic.’ We all have buildings as part of our lives.”

Market transformation, while necessary, tends to be slow. Meanwhile, research suggests that we have a six-to-10-year window to make changes to avoid irreversible environmental damage. Within that time frame, the U.S. and other wealthy countries will need to get their emissions down to zero, and for that to happen, whatever we design and build now has to be a part of that reduction. In the words of climate activist Greta Thunberg, “Everything needs to change, and it has to start today.”

So where to start? LEED provides a metric for building performance, as do local building programs like the Austin Energy Green Building Program. The 2030 Palette from the Architecture 2030 Challenge, which calls for buildings and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030, offers “swatches” of possible design strategies and materials. A few miles down the road from CMPBS, architect Lauren Stanley, AIA, is developing a materials palette for a new house that she and husband Lars Stanley, FAIA, plan to build following the guidelines of the Living Building Challenge (LBC). Like LEED, LBC provides a metric for building performance, but while LEED
The city is taking the threat of climate change seriously, but it may not be enough to keep the waters at bay.

Oh, Miami, America’s tropical fever dream. The city along Biscayne Bay has been half a fantasy since at least the 1950s, a raffish, pastel-colored, Art Deco, bikini-clad vision of escape. Miami Beach, the smaller island city floating just across the bay, sits at the heart of this illusion, a stroll along South Beach promising a chance to briefly escape the harder edges of daily life.

Yet these two communities built on dreams are coming to grips with a reality some of the nation continues to deny: the impact of global climate change. On a spring day so perfect it seemed like it was conjured up by the tourist bureau, Reinaldo Borges, AIA, one of the region’s earliest and most fervent advocates of the need to respond to rising sea levels, took me around downtown Miami Beach to see how the city is adapting to the new reality. We strolled down streets and sidewalks that have been raised as much as 31 inches in recent years to deal with the “sunny day” flooding that had been coming with the highest tides, water rising up through the porous limestone that forms the bedrock in Miami Beach and the larger city across the bay. “This used to be the elevation of the sidewalk,” Borges says, pointing to what is now a sunken storefront operating out of a shallow half-basement. “This building needs to be replaced,” he adds bluntly. A block or so farther down, he points approvingly to a newer Publix grocery store, which has gracefully incorporated a rise in elevation that lifts it above flood levels. “This is a good adaptation.”

Adaptation. Resiliency. Evolution. I heard these words over and over again as I met with architects, urban planners, and city officials. One thing I did not hear is denial. “Those days of denial are over, at least here in Miami Beach,” Susanne Torriente, chief resilience officer for Miami Beach, tells me.

“The debate now is not if we should do something, but what we should do,” says Elizabeth Camargo, AIA, who heads the Resilience Recovery Task Force at AIA Miami, one of two different groups the local chapter has set up to deal with climate change.

Can Miami stand its ground, and what will it look like if it does? How will the city and its built environment evolve? The answers I heard involved solutions as mundane as better storm drains and as futuristic as a platform city.

If the debate is over, it’s because the impact of climate change has already arrived in South Florida: increasingly severe storms, sunny day flooding, and rising sea levels—the ocean here has risen 8 inches since 1950, according to the nonprofit group SeaLevelRise.org. The worst lies ahead. By the end of this century, the seas breaking along the shore in Miami and Miami Beach could be as much as 81 inches higher, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Even more modest estimates predict an increase of 3 to 5 feet by 2100.

The average elevation of Miami Beach is only 4.4 feet and parts of the city are as little as 2 feet above sea level. Most of Miami has an elevation of 6 feet, but several neighborhoods have elevations of 3 feet or less. And the Miami River, of course, runs through the heart of the city all the way to the Everglades. So you have a low-lying metropolitan area of 6 million-plus people on porous soil with a major waterway tying it to an ocean that is rising more quickly every decade.

And yet people keep building and buying here. Breathtaking modernist mansions dot the water’s edge. Construction cranes hang in the downtown sky in Miami only blocks from the ocean. A word I did not hear during my visit, unless I brought it up first, was retreat. Neither Miami nor Miami Beach has zoned its low-lying or oceanside areas to prevent new construction.

Can Miami stand its ground, and what will it look like if it does? How will the city and its built environment evolve? The answers I heard involved solutions as mundane as better storm drains and as futuristic as a platform city.

“Learning to Live in a Water World”
In August 1992, after Hurricane Andrew ravaged Miami, causing billions in damage and leaving a quarter-million people homeless in Miami-Dade County alone, cities and counties in South Florida adopted some of the toughest building codes in the nation. They require buildings to be able to withstand winds up to 175 miles an hour, use shatterproof glass, and be built with
In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor.

Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit.

“The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.”

Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use.

Lauren Nassef
As flooding increases across the country, architects and policymakers are strategizing ways to contain the deluge.

Flooding, long dismissed as a problem that happens to someone else, has risen in our national consciousness over the past 15 years thanks to such names as Katrina, Rita, Sandy, and Harvey—a set of the worst houseguests you could ever imagine. Recent flooding has been driven by a variety of causes: hurricanes whose landfall wasn’t in perennially threatened areas, as well as intense rains and snowmelt—manifestations of climate change and malign coincidence.

One linked fact is that flooding has afflicted far more than the usual geographic suspects, with New England and the Gulf Coast experiencing intense onslaughts. The impact has been highly destructive, and the only silver lining might be a greater awareness among architects and experts—and the public—of the need to take action.

Resilience, which until recently was represented by academics or the occasional forward-minded planner, is in the process of vaulting into mainstream consciousness as a result.

Illya Azaroff, AIA, founding principal at +LAB Architect PLLCs and a professor at New York City College of Technology (City University of New York), notes, “Before Hurricane Sandy, every time there was a resilience meeting, we all knew each other. Since then, I’m in meetings all of the time, and I don’t know a majority of the people. That’s a great thing.” (Azaroff ’s #HurricaneStrong home in Breezy Point, Queens, is the subject of the 2019 AIA Film Challenge seed film.)

Among architects and policymakers, a more acute awareness of the risks of flooding is developing—not only because of its increased geographic dispersal, but also because flooding has started to serially outstrip the bounds of outdated flood maps in surges of Neptunian irredentism. While this is an obvious shock to anyone whose home or business has been deluged, it is often chased by a second one: the fact that no one will pay for the damages.

FEMA flood maps, which classify sites into different levels of risks, have been irregularly funded, and many homes and businesses within their current boundaries lack insurance anyway. Prospective changes to FEMA flood insurance policies could prompt considerable changes in the nature of future construction and repairs in vulnerable areas. Assessments to date have been based on comparatively broad classifications of risk; FEMA’s Risk Rating 2.0 update, set to be implemented in 2020, will apply a finer-grained set of evaluations to individual properties, including the elevation of ground on the property, the elevation of a structure’s first-floor distance to water, and potential rebuilding costs.

“If property ownership costs are going to dramatically increase, that will have an affect on architects and the kinds of buildings they design,” says Rachel Minnery, FAIA, the senior director of resilience, adaptation, and disaster assistance at AIA. “Design is not the leader here, economic loss is.”

When it comes to the work of influencing and guiding where to build, how to build, how to protect what’s built, and how to reduce overall flood risks, architects have a vital role to play.

David Waggonner, FAIA, a principal at Waggonner & Ball who has been active with New Orleans flood planning, notes that architects are often merely responding to client specifications and may not have ultimately persuasive capacities, but that it is becoming necessary to take a stronger stance. “Architects are needed,” he says. “If we stay out of this, God help us.”

Storm-Related Ocean Flooding in Boston

There is no single way to foil flooding, and understanding the geographic variables is key. Some parts of New England, unexpectedly ravaged during Hurricane Sandy, feature safe land close to where any building is sited—even next to the ocean.

“The geologic structure of Connecticut is like the fingers of your hand; some of the geological ridges stretch out into the sea. You don’t have to retreat out of the area; you just have to retreat upland to the ridges,” says Donald Watson, FAIA, principal at EarthRise Design in Trumbull, Conn. This means that flood-vulnerable neighborhoods can migrate to higher ground nearby, possibly within the same town.

“Greenwich has done this [by allowing] developers to increase densities in safe zones and decrease densities in unsafe zones,” he says. New housing is permitted in the flood plain if
Alicja Biała, Iwo Borkowicz and Dominik Pazdzior
Designer Alicja Biała and architect Iwo Borkowicz have aimed to capture the realities of climate change with these colourful Totemy towers that serve as multi-storey data visualisations.

Installed beneath MVRDV's Bałtyk tower in Poznań, Poland, each of the six Totemy sculptures is a nine-metre-tall, geometric wooden tower.

Each of the totems has been designed to communicates a statistic about an environmental issue. For instance, one totem illustrates what has happened to every piece of plastic produced throughout history.

The sculpture is dominated by its blue top half, carved into bold geometric shapes and faintly patterned with swirls. This represents all the plastic that has been discarded as waste.

Below it, slimmer sections in different colours show the fates of the remaining plastic. Green shows it is still in use; red, that it has been burnt. The slimmest section, a mere belt of yellow, represents plastic that has been recycled.

Viewers can access these explanations — as well as links to the statistics' sources — by scanning a QR code on each sculpture.

Biała said she hopes the installation, which will remain at the site permanently, will help to inject climate change into people's conversation.

"We wanted to address the public at large, and at an everyday level," she said. "Passersby on the street and tram will catch out of the corner of their eye a flash of strong colours and be reminded of the current state of our world."

She has been buoyed by the positive response, both locally and abroad, since Totemy opened on 16 May.

"This is particularly important within the state of discourse in Poland where many politicians and public figures manifest climate ignorance, like Polish President Andrzej Duda, who has a rich climate change denial history," said Biała.

"The thing is that our totems are designed to represent science; you may discuss with me, but you cannot argue with facts."
Mischa Keijser/Getty Images
To meet the goals of the resolution, the design and construction industries will retrofit millions of structures and build many more. In the process, they could create a more just and resilient country.

Whether or not the U.S. decides to take action on climate change, the shape of the country—its towns, offices, homes, schools, roads, farms, and more—is on the brink of a radical transformation. This transformation could be borne out in two ways. The first is external: Escalating storms, floods, droughts, mass migration, food scarcity, and economic instability could dramatically alter the physical landscape and economy. The other is internal: A national effort to retrofit millions of buildings and rethink the way communities are designed could help Americans withstand the ravages of climate change and make the country more equitable.

The resolution known as the Green New Deal, published by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey in February, wants to bring about the latter. The Green New Deal framework describes the monumental changes needed to decarbonize the American economy by meeting 100% of our energy demands with zero-emission sources in the next decade. It will require overhauling major industries like energy and agriculture, but also transforming America’s buildings and construction sector.

It’s easy to miss just how destructive and inefficient land development is, given its ubiquity. Existing buildings hoover up about 40% of energy consumed in the U.S. and emit about 29% of greenhouse gases. The Green New Deal calls for retrofitting all of them—every last skyscraper, McDonald’s, and suburban ranch home—for energy efficiency within the next 10 years. It also addresses the role of the construction industry, which accounts for about 11% of all emissions globally, by recommending investment in community-led building projects oriented around decarbonization issues like resiliency, transit, and land preservation. And crucially, it demands family-sustaining wages, the right to organize, and a “just transition” for everyone affected by the transition to this decarbonized world.

House Republicans quickly declared the resolution a “boondoggle” in an official statement. It was an ironic choice of words. Whether the GOP realized it or not, that term emerged in the 1930s, when critics of the New Deal used it to characterize the project of putting broke Americans to work on hundreds of thousands of projects. It’s true that the Green New Deal’s goals—to reshape the country’s homes, workplaces, and economy, and provide equity for all—sound radical in a country ravaged by the housing crisis, worker exploitation, and stagnating wages, but from a technical, structural, and architectural standpoint, they’re entirely feasible. Despite what politicians would have you believe, we’ve done it before, and we have the tools to do it again.

As Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who is leading the creation of policy around the resolution, says, reaching them will mean thinking about transit, land use, housing, building regulations, and more. In short: “What will our cities and towns look like, moving forward?”


According to the Energy Information Administration, there are roughly 5.6 million commercial buildings in the United States. Most of those are small; half are under 5,000 square feet—think of a fast food joint or a doctor’s office. There are also 138 million housing units, which includes both houses and apartment units. Reducing their carbon footprint will involve the crucial, economy-wide shift away from fossil fuels, but also tamping down the amount of energy buildings use in the first place.

Retrofitting tens of millions of houses and apartment buildings, which take lots of energy to heat, cool, and light, isn’t the Green New Deal’s most glamorous clause, but it’s one of its most pressing. As summers get hotter and the population (and thus the housing stock) grows, the urgency will only increase, as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions reports. There will be trillions of lightbulbs to replace. Millions of HVAC units to upgrade, operable windows and automatic shades to install, rooftops to paint with heat-reflecting paint, shade-giving trees to plant and photovoltaics to hook up. Miles and miles of wiring and sensors and automation platforms to get online so it can all be monitored and controlled.

Who will do this work? Who will pay for it? How will it be regulated, in a country where building regulations are determined at local, rather than federal, l
The Architects' Journal
Architecture firms are rallying to the climate change cause with an 11-point action plan. But have they understood the transformation in practice this will commit them to? Will Hurst reports

Three weeks ago, something momentous happened in British architecture. Seventeen winners of the RIBA Stirling Prize, including Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, issued the Architects Declare call: a plea for practices across the country to join them in recognising the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss and the ‘paradigm shift’ now required in the construction industry to tackle these looming threats.

Since then, practices of all sizes and types have flocked to the Architects Declare banner. At the time of writing, 429 practices have signed, including about two-thirds of AJ100 firms – 80 per cent of the top 50 and every firm in the top 10. The call to action was mirrored by an open letter from architecture schools, headed ‘Architecture Education Declares’.

Building on the momentum in the profession created by the Extinction Rebellion protests, Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency, and the AJ’s own ‘Wake Up’ issue on the crisis published in February, the speed and scale of the response has surprised those behind the campaigning initiative.

"Do these firms realise this is not a simple bolt-on, but a fundamental rethink of the design process? "

Yet, as with the government’s more recent commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, actions will speak louder than words. The 11 pledges within the campaign are far-reaching and sound almost improbable, coming from design studios famous for their carbon-hungry towers, mega airports and swooping concrete structures.

Assuming the signatories are sincere, most now face the task of transforming their working practices, their business models and indeed their entire approach to architecture in a very short space of time. As Simon Sturgis asked in the immediate aftermath of the declaration: ‘Do these firms realise this is not a simple bolt-on, but a fundamental rethink of the design process? BREEAM 2018 is not sufficient.’

So what should we make of Architects Declare and how did it come about? Is it truly the start of a profound change of direction for British architecture or panic-driven sloganeering by a sector that has finally got the memo? Moreover, where do those practices who have signed up to the declaration go from here?

Architects Declare has no leaders nor designated spokespeople and each signatory is expected to speak for his or her own organisation. One of the people most active in it is Steve Tompkins, co-founder of RIBA Stirling Prize-winning Haworth Tompkins. Tompkins works on housing, higher education and masterplanning schemes but is best known for his work on cultural buildings, and was named the most influential person in British theatre by The Stage magazine in January. In recent months he has been pondering how architecture should respond to the climate emergency, and hosted a low-carbon focus group organised by the AJ in February. This involved several of those architect-campaigners who later worked behind the scenes on Architects Declare, including Julia Barfield and Waugh Thistleton co-founder Andrew Waugh.

"Many observers point to the yawning gap between the rhetoric and the ongoing work of some of the best-known Stirling winners"

‘The idea was born out of a conversation with [architect and author] Michael Pawlyn in the early part of the year,’ Tompkins recalls. ‘We were both frustrated by the lack of urgency within the construction sector around the climate and biodiversity crises and were discussing how the UK architecture profession as a whole – as opposed to the familiar pioneers who have been quietly working away for years – could find its voice.’

Architectural consultant Caroline Cole then facilitated a meeting of Stirling Prize-winning practices to discuss the idea of a joint public statement or open letter and it soon became clear that all those present agreed in principle on the need for action. The association with the Stirling and the extraordinary coming-together of an otherwise disparate group of leading architects gave the open letter added impact.

Tompkins is heartened by the response, which, he says, confirms his recognition that many architect colleagues ‘share both a deep anxiety about the environmental realities we face and an unmet desire to find ways to work together to respond’.
David Maurice Smith/The New York Times/Redux
Australia approves Adani coal mine, endangering the Great Barrier Reef and, well, civilization

Thanks to President Trump and his transparent and perverse desire to enrich his golfing buddies in the fossil fuel industry and to accelerate the climate crisis, the U.S. is the most notorious climate criminal in the world right now. But the Aussies are giving us a run for our money.

Exhibit A: the decision this week by the Queensland State government to allow a big coal mine in northeastern Australia to move forward. The project, known as the Carmichael mine, is controlled by the Adani Group, an Indian corporate behemoth headed by billionaire Gautam Adani. If it ever opens, the Carmichael mine would not be the biggest coal mine in the world, or even the biggest coal mine in Australia. But it may be the most insane energy project on the planet, and one that shows just how far supposedly civilized nations (and people) are from grasping what’s at stake in the climate crisis.

The site for the Carmichael mine is in the Galilee Basin, an unspoiled region of Queensland that Adani has been itching to get his hands on for at least a decade. The battle over the mine has been the usual sordid tale of fossil fuel industry development, in which a rich, powerful, politically connected corporation gets its way with weak and corrupt politicians.

But of course there are a lot of stupid and destructive energy projects in the world right now. What makes Adani worse than the others?

Let’s start with the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian Marine Conservation Society called the approval of the mine “bad news” for the reef. That’s an almost criminal understatement.

The approval of the Adani project is an aggressive attack on the 1,600-mile-long reef in two deadly ways. First, by condoning the mining and burning of coal, which is heating up and acidifiying the oceans and killing coral reefs, Australian politicians are essentially saying they are willing to sacrifice one of the great wonders of the world for a few jobs for their pals and some extra cash in their pockets. In fact, a key part of the Adani project is a new coal terminal on the Queensland coast, which is right at the edge of the Barrier Reef. That means more industrialization in the area, more water pollution, more coal barges floating over the reef, more risk of disasters that would dump dirty black rocks on one of nature’s crown jewels.

I spent a few days diving on the Barrier Reef last year, and I can tell you, there are few sights more surreal to anyone who cares about the fate of the planet than watching a ship loaded with coal heading out over the Great Barrier Reef. Healthy coral reefs are the rainforests of the ocean, teeming with life and vital to the underwater ecosystem. I saw stretches of brightly colored coral crowded with sharks, starfish, urchins and even a Manta-ray. But I also saw vast expanses of bleached coral that looked like underwater deserts. A 2018 Nature study described the reef on the verge of collapse. “We thought the Barrier Reef was too big to fail,” one researcher said, “but it’s not.”

The mine is insane on another level, too. The coal will be exported to India, a nation that is hugely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and is struggling to make the transition to clean energy. Last week, at the same moment that Queensland politicians were approving the Adani project, northern India was sweltering under a 120-degree F heat wave so brutal that people were advised not to venture outdoors after 11 a.m. and a 33-year-old man was beaten to death in a dispute over water.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

By itself, the Adani project is not huge. It’s expected to produce about ten million tons of coal a year at first (that’s about the size of a big mine in the Wyoming’s Powder River Basin). But the project includes a 200-mile long railroad to the coal terminal on the Queensland coast, which could potentially open the remote Galilee Basin to further development.

The biggest myth associated with the Adani mine may be that continuing to mine and export coal is somehow vital to the Australian economy. It is not. As James Bradley points out, although coal accounts for almost 15 per cent of Australia’s exports, it contributes less than 1 percent of the Commonwealth government’s total revenue. And it’s not like the industry creates a lot of jobs, either. In 2018, it employed slightly fewer than 50,000 people. That’s less than 0.4 per
Unless nations quickly muster the political and social will to engineer an emissions-free industrial system, the impacts of a warming planet are likely to be so great as to cause human civilization to collapse by 2050. That’s the scenario put forward in a May 2019 report published by Breakthrough—National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think tank based in Melbourne, Australia.

Calling many reports created for climate policymaking purposes “conservative and reticent” with their risk assessments, the report’s overview declares that “climate change now represents a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization.” It defines an existential risk to civilization as one “posing permanent large negative consequences to humanity which may never be undone, either annihilating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential.”

The report, “Existential Climate-Related Security Risk: A Scenario Approach,” was authored by David Spratt, a research director at Breakthrough, and Ian Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chair of the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading. They argue the greatest threat lies “disproportionately in the ‘fat-tail’ outcomes” of the risk curve, i.e., the more extreme possible outcomes—scenarios that had previously been understated.

The 11-page report lays out a scenario by which climate change causes catastrophic impacts to human society. Key to its proposition of a potential 2050 doomsday is inaction by policymakers to take steps between now and 2030 to reduce the degree of warming. Under this scenario, if global human-caused greenhouse emissions continue to climb until 2030, that would cause “at least 3° C of warming”—a rise considered by some scientists to be catastrophic.

The report’s recommendation comprises an unprecedented call to action.

“To reduce this risk and protect human civilization, a massive global mobilisation of resources is needed in the coming decade to build a zero-emissions industrial system,” it states.

Writing in the foreword of the report, Adm. Chris Barrie, a member of the Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change and former chief of the Australian Defence Force, states: “A doomsday future is not inevitable! But without immediate drastic action our prospects are poor. We must act collectively. We need strong, determined leadership in government, in business and in our communities to ensure a sustainable future for humankind.”
Studio NAB
Waiting for the bus is usually a drag, but what if the experience could instead become an opportunity to be closer to nature? French design practice Studio NAB has reinterpreted the humble bus stop as a hub for biodiversity that offers a “hotel” for birds and insects of all varieties. Built from recycled materials and topped with a vegetated green roof, the proposed Hotel Bus Stop aims to promote the population of native pollinating insects and reconnect people to nature.

Studio NAB designed the Hotel Bus Stop to serve five purposes: to promote the presence of pollinating insects; to bring adults and children closer to nature and promote environmental awareness and education; to showcase architecture constructed from recycled materials such as wood, cardboard and stainless steel; to introduce urban greenery and improve air quality with a vegetated roof and exposed plant wall; and to create “green jobs” for maintenance around the bus stops.

“A broad scientific consensus now recognizes the role of man in the decline of biomass and biodiversity in general and that of insects in particular,” Studio NAB explained in a project statement. “The use of pesticides in intensive agriculture, the destruction of natural habitats, excessive urbanization, global warming and various pollutions are at the origin of this hecatomb. Our hegemony allied to our conscience obliges us today to fulfill a role of ‘guardian’ and to allow the ‘living’ to take its place in order to fight against the erosion of our biodiversity.”

Envisioned for city centers and “eco-neighborhoods,” The Hotel Bus Stop would provide more habitats for pollinating insects that are essential for our food system and gardens, from fruit trees and vegetables to ornamental flowers. Auxiliary insects would also benefit, such as lacewings and earwigs that feed on aphids, a common garden pest. The underside of the bus stop roof would include boxes to encourage nesting by various bird species found throughout the city.

Sebastian Ganso
Britain recently upped the ante on its commitment to fight climate change, promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The new governmental plan is more ambitious than its original Climate Change Act from 2008, which pledged to reduce emissions by 80 percent. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed net-zero is a necessary step for Britain and a moral duty as well as a strategy to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs.

Britain is the first G7 country to propose carbon neutrality, an ambitious goal that environmentalists hope will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase their Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments.

According to Prime Minister May, Britain’s economy can continue to grow alongside the transition to renewable energy. “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” she said.

Net-zero on a national level will mean that effectively all homes, transportation, farming and industries will not consume more energy than the country can generate through renewable energy. For certain cases where this is impossible, it will mean that companies and industries purchase carbon offsets.

The roll out of this plan is to be determined but must include a variety of individual- and national-level actions, including a massive investment in the renewable energy industry as well as a reduction in meat consumption and flying and a total shift to electric cars, LED light bulbs and hydrogen gas heating.

According to BBC, Prime Minister May also claimed that the U.K.
“led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.”

This claim erases the true legacy of the industrial revolution and the role Britain played, which includes environmental destruction, exacerbated inequality and economic exploitation of many nations — not wealth.

Whether or not Britain is a world leader, its pledge might convince other nations to increase or at least stick to their commitments to reduce emissions.
In response to concerns that Luonnonmaa, an island on the Finnish West archipelago coast, could succumb to the destructive effects of climate change, Helsinki-based architectural firm Emmi Keskisarja & Janne Teräsvirta & Company Architects has unveiled a sustainable vision for the island in the year 2070. Named “Emerald Envisioning for Luonnonmaa 2070,” the futuristic vision calls for a utopian scheme where people and nature live in harmony within a sustainable community tapping into renewable energy sources, eco tourism and reforestation.

Luonnonmaa makes up the majority of the land area for the city of Naantali; however, the island itself is sparsely populated. Traditionally used for farming, the island is renowned for its clean and idyllic Nordic landscapes.

“The way of life on Luonnonmaa is challenged by climate catastrophe and biodiversity loss, just as it is in more population-concentrated locations on the planet,” the architects said. “The island is seemingly empty — or full of immaculate space — but a closer inspection reveals that most of the island area is defined by human activity and its ripple effects. A growing population on the island will need to provide more opportunity for nature, while they develop their way of life, means of transportation, work, as well as food and energy production.”

The architects worked together with the City of Naantali’s public, politicians and planners as well as with a multidisciplinary group of local specialists and the Institute of Future Studies at the University of Turku to produce a creative solution to these challenges. The Emerald Envisioning for Luonnonmaa 2070 addresses such questions as “Can the future be both sustainable and desirable?” and “Could we build more to accommodate human needs, while (counter-intuitively) producing more opportunities for nature around us?”

The scheme also considers the future of farming for the island. Because the traditional farming industry is in decline, the proposal suggests more carbon-neutral methods of food production such as seaweed hubs and communal gardening. Meanwhile, the reduction of farmland will allow for the expansion and unification of forest areas to support the island’s unique biodiversity. To future-proof against sea level rise, housing will be built on pylons to mitigate flood concerns while social activity and communal development will be planned around waterways. A network of small-scale glamping units would also be installed to boost the island’s economy.

Stephan Savoia/AP
Internal communications shed new light on the Rockefeller Foundation’s decision to stop funding the global climate nonprofit, and hint at what might come next.

In late April, at a town-hall meeting in New York City, Raj Shah, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, addressed the staff of 100 Resilient Cities. The nonprofit, launched by the philanthropy in 2013, has helped cities around the world plan for natural disasters and social shocks, especially the ravages of climate change.

Earlier that month, the foundation had abruptly announced plans to shutter the program. Now Shah was explaining why.

“This is not about whether 100 Resilient Cities works,” Shah said. “It’s a shift in the foundation’s focus to delivering measurable results for vulnerable people ... with a budget framework that works.”

While the nonprofit was best known for climate adaptation plans, its work encompassed much more. For example, in Boston, leaders defined resilience as breaking down structural racism. In Panama City, it was about improving mobility. A city became “resilient” by identifying virtually any social and infrastructural fault line that a shock might expose. Change was measured on a long-term basis. In contrast to other nonprofits that give grants for specific projects, the 100RC model was unusually flexible.

But in April, the Rockefeller Foundation suddenly announced that it would discontinue its funding for 100RC, which had amounted to $164 million to date. Leaders said that they planned to “transition” the nonprofit’s work by setting up a new office at the foundation focused on economic resilience, and by funding the resilience efforts of the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Little explanation was given publicly, but foundation leaders later offered staff a two-part rationale: As it existed, 100RC had grown too costly, and its model no longer aligned with Rockefeller’s goals.

That shift was partly due to new leadership. Shah started as president of Rockefeller in 2017, after serving as the chief administrator of the federal U.S. Agency for International Development. It was his predecessor at Rockefeller, Judith Rodin, who helped design the resiliency program and spun it off as a grantee of the foundation. At the meeting in April, Shah told 100RC staff that he had promised the foundation’s board that he would focus on quantifying the impact of Rockefeller’s investments at the level of individual lives.

For example, he said, one of the foundation’s new goals was to save 6 million lives by improving maternal and children’s health through the use of predictive analytics, especially in developing counties. Another target was to bring renewable power and solutions to 200 million people who live in “energy poverty.”

“That was a big pivot for the Rockefeller Foundation, which had been focused on new ways of thinking about finance and resilience and inclusive economies in a more conceptual way,” Shah said. “That is great, but this is a different direction.”

Indeed, 100RC’s open-ended model was at times a weakness, said Carlos Martín, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, who authored a series of evaluations of the program. “The value and benefit is that it’s up to the city to decide what the most critical shocks are,” he said in an interview with CityLab in April. “The negative is that you have a gazillion things going on.”

And while academic research supports the theory of building urban resilience through institutional change, it was challenging to measure short-term results directed by the program, Martín found. Emails sent among 100RC staff in February that were viewed by CityLab pointed to the pressure that the nonprofit was under from the Rockefeller Foundation to identify “marketable evidence” of their impact.

But 100RC achieved many points of positive impact, according to Martín’s report, and it defined the “urban resilience” movement to date. Many member cities continued to employ a chief resilience officer after their original grant to do so ran out. Leaders described a shift in their way of thinking after engaging with 100 Resilient Cities; they were better able to connect ongoing social challenges to pressing infrastructure needs, the evaluation found. Nearly 80 “resilience strategies” that outline ideas for public-works projects and economic-development strategies reflect this, and more are still being released.

Resilience office
Canadian Architect
The World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) 10th annual World Green Building Week will focus on end-to-end carbon emissions created across the building and construction industry.

From September 23 to September 29, World Green Building Week is highlighting the need for sustainable production, design, build, deconstruction and reuse of buildings and their materials.

“This year’s focus for World Green Building Week on the full lifecycle of buildings is key to promote innovation and accelerate the abatement of emissions from buildings, which stand at 39 per cent of total emissions worldwide,” said Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council. “Only by having an end to end understanding can our green building movement truly help contribute to the decarbonization of the built environment.”

The World Green Building Week’s September 2019 campaign will also incorporate the issue of air pollution.

According to WorldGBC, modern day buildings and construction together account for 36 per cent of global final energy use, and 39 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when upstream power generation is included.

The organization suggests that the energy used in material manufacturing, construction and operation of buildings must come from clean, renewable sources rather than burning carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

WorldGBC will seek its global network of green building and construction industry experts to act as ambassadors throughout the week to promote action on total emissions and the life cycle of buildings.

Multiplex Executive Director, Stephen Smith, addresses the need for evidence-backed actions from all stakeholders in the construction industry to generate sustainable outcomes for our communities and our environment.

“Embedded sustainability efforts clearly result in a positive impact on business performance and Multiplex is very proud to be leading the way. World Green Building Week is a great opportunity for us to explore and hopefully enable sustainability solutions with our business partners and peers,” said Smith.

The issue of addressing embodied carbon emissions is becoming increasingly important to the building and construction industry, according to WorldGBC.

In a detailed report, slated for a September 2019 release by WorldGBC, the council outlines the pressing issues around embodied carbon in the industry and presents a vision for a net zero carbon construction.

WorldGBC calls for urgent action in the report, while recommending specific steps that business, government and civil society can take to help shape a net zero carbon future.

With a global network of nearly 70 national Green Building Councils, WorldGBC has confidence that green buildings can help combat climate change, as well as achieve numerous social, economic and environmental benefits.
Seattle Times
The Bullitt Foundation, an agenda-setting funder of the Northwest environmental movement, plans to wind down a quarter-century of grant-giving that has pumped more than $200 million into efforts ranging from restoration projects on the Green River to climate activism, as it pushed the region toward a greener future.

The foundation, which traces its roots to a storied Seattle family, will give away most of what’s left of its endowment during the next five years.

“The board decided, right from the start, that we did not want to be here in perpetuity,” said Denis Hayes, the Bullitt Foundation’s executive director, who also said the foundation was nearing the point when “we must pass the torch to the next generation of environmental philanthropists.”

Once the grant-giving ends in 2024, the foundation plans to continue to award its annual prize for environmental leadership, and also lease office space at its Seattle headquarters – the six-story Bullitt Center – that has gained international recognition for its ecological design.

Bullitt, which had less than $82 million in net assets in 2017, is a relatively small foundation yet has has played an outsized role in shaping the regional environmental agenda.

Much of that is due to Hayes, who organized the first Earth Day and led a solar-research institute in President Jimmy Carter’s administration. At the Bullitt Foundation, he has helped bring Northwest environmental leaders together to discuss where the movement should go, how to get there and how to diversify its ranks to include more communities of color.

“They’ve really challenged organizations to think about racial equity and racial justice,” said Joan Crooks, CEO of the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters.

The foundation’s grants typically range from $40,000 to $120,000, often seed money for groups that, once they passed muster with the Bullitt Foundation, had an easier time persuading other donors to chip in.

“It’s like Warren Buffett buying stock; if they support an effort, it tends to move other money,” said Alan Durning, the founder of Sightline Institute, which received a start-up grant of $20,000 from the foundation in 1993 when he was working out of his Seattle bedroom. Today, Sightline, an environmental policy group, continues to receive Bullitt Foundation support, but that money is a now a small part of a $2.2 million budget for an organization that has grown to employ 20 people in three cities.

Early focus was conservation
Through the years, the Bullitt Foundation has spread dollars across a broad swath of the region ranging from Alaska to Oregon and east to Idaho and Montana. Since 2016, the foundation has focused more narrowly on what Hayes calls the “emerald corridor” that stretches from Vancouver, B.C. to Portland. It is a region that he hopes could become a global model for equitable, sustainable urban development – a vision that still seems far away as the Northwest grapples with an epidemic of homelessness.

Some Bullitt Foundation money has gone to groups testing new ideas in housing, energy and agriculture. In the early years there was more of a focus on conserving lands, including grants to groups campaigning for preservation of what became the Hanford Reach National Monument and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument.

Many of the grants have helped to fuel efforts by groups that organize protests, file lawsuits or lobby for legislation.

“I would say 90%-plus of our grants have been designed to influence policy,” Hayes said. “As a nonprofit, we cannot make a grant to hire a lobbyist or influence legislation … but all the policy development is fair game to us.”

In May, German architectural firm Ingenhoven Architects broke ground on Kö-Bogen II, a sustainable mixed-use development envisioned as the “new green heart” of Düsseldorf, Germany. Designed to visually extend the adjoining Hofgarten park into the inner city, Kö-Bogen II wraps the sloping facades of its two buildings with hornbeam hedges that total nearly 5 miles in length. The hedges and turfed rooftop spaces will also help purify the air and combat the city’s heat island effect by providing a cooling microclimate.

Located at Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, Kö-Bogen II will serve as a commercial and office complex covering 42,000 square meters of gross floor area offering retail, restaurants, office space, local recreation and a five-story underground parking garage with 670 spaces. The development comprises a five-story trapezoid-shaped main building and a smaller triangular building that cluster around a valley-like plaza. The sloping facades, which will be planted with hornbeam hedges, open up the plaza to views of the iconic Dreischeibenhaus and the Düsseldorf Theater nearby. The architects will also be refurbishing the roof, facade and public areas of the Düsseldorf Theater.

“In order to do justice to the overall urban design situation, the design of Kö-Bogen II deliberately avoids a classical block-edged development such as that along the Schadowstrasse shopping street,” the architects explained in a press release. “In addition, the idea of green architecture has been applied systematically, thus distinguishing the development from conventional architectural solutions.”

Ascending to a building height of 27 meters, the hornbeam hedges will offer seasonal interest by changing color throughout the year. The turfed surfaces planted on the triangular building’s sloped facades will be accessible to passersby, who can use the space as an open lawn for rest and relaxation. Kö-Bogen II is slated to open in the spring of 2020.

Members of the American Institute of Architects overwhelmingly voiced their support for combatting climate change at its Conference on Architecture currently under way in Las Vegas. At the event’s business meeting on Wednesday, members passed a resolution calling for “urgent and sustained climate action.”

The measure, which passed with 4,860 delegates voting in favor and 312 against, pushes for the acceleration of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and calls for a transformation in day-to-practice so that architects can achieve a more resilient built environment. It builds upon a series of climate change initiatives. Some of the most recent include a January pledge by the board of directors and the executive team to focus more of the AIA’s resources and influence on the problem and a statement issued in February by the organization’s president, William Bates, backing the proposed Green New Deal. A group of more than 50 architects sponsored Wednesday’s resolution. “We felt that it was important to take the issue directly to the membership and demonstrate support in a way that was transparent and visible,” explains one sponsor, Marsha Maytum, a principal of San Francisco-based Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE).

Among the other business conducted on Wednesday was passage of an amendment to the institute’s bylaws that would allow it more financial flexibility. Also at the meeting, Bates announced that the organization is launching a comprehensive review of the process used to select its award recipients. A press release issued by the AIA said the intent “was to promote the highest professional standards among members and within the profession.”

To make climate resolution official AIA policy the board of directors must still approve the measure. Beyond that, much remains to be done, acknowledges Maytum. This work includes expanding the focus of carbon reduction beyond building operations to encompass embodied carbon; pushing for more stringent energy codes; and outreach to clients, policy makers, and the public. The vote is not an end in itself, says Maytum, but “a call to action.”
Finland's new government has promised to reduce the country's fossil-fuel consumption and invest in renewable energy sources, after 80 per cent of Finns called for urgent action on climate change.

Following elections earlier this year, a new left-leaning government has promised to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035, with the target to be written into Finnish law.

"We are determined to tackle the challenge of climate change. But it needs to be done in a socially fair way," prime minister Antti Rinne, who was sworn in yesterday, said at the cabinet's first news conference.

In a recent government poll, 80 per cent of Finnish people surveyed said they felt that urgent action was required on climate change. A third of the country's land is in the Arctic Circle and rising temperatures will melt its permafrost and cause sea levels to rise in the Baltic.

"Building the world's first sustainable society"

To become carbon neutral in 15 years time, Finland will cut back on logging investments and try to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and peat. It will also invest in renewable energy, including wind, solar and bioenergy, and heating and transport will be electrified.

Currently Finland operates one of the largest peat-fired power plants in the world, Toppila Power Station in the city of Oulu.

"Building the world's first fossil-free, sustainable society is going to require much more than nice words on paper, but we're determined to make it happen," Sini Harkki, a representative of Greenpeace in Finland, told the Guardian.

Instead of buying credits for carbon capture projects in other countries Finland plans to achieve the goal through reducing its own carbon emissions, although this policy will be reviewed in 2025.

Climate change and welfare made a priority

Finland's incumbent government aims to raise €730 million (£650 million) through taxes, including those on fossil fuels and selling off state assets. This money will be used for the carbon programme and improvements to the country's welfare system.

Finland's Social Democratic Party, the Green League and the Left Alliance all made gains in the April 2019 elections, despite the populist Finns Party warning, as reported in the New York Times, that the left's climate goals would "take the sausage from the mouths of labourers".

The town of Li in northern Finland has already been setting its own ambitious targets to help tackle climate change. The town will cut its carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2020 and is aiming to become the country's first zero-waste community.

The picture on climate change is not as rosy elsewhere in Europe.

Recent elections in Spain have seen the country's government move to the right, with officials from Partido Popular pledging to scrap Madrid's low emissions zone, despite recent improvements in air quality.

Main image, showing the peat-fired Toppila Power Station in Oulu, is from Pixabay.
Alicia Tatone
Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns. After two catastrophic floods, tiny Ellicott City faces a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?

The floor beneath Sally Tennant’s feet was thumping, as if it had a heartbeat—an irregular one, with each thud getting louder and more violent. When she looked out the window of her store, she discovered why: A river of muddy water was gushing down the street, and it was sending tree branches, rocks, pieces of fencing—anything the water swept up—crashing into the side of the building.

It’s happening again.

Tennant opened the front door of her craft and jewelry store, Discoveries, and did what safety officials say you should never do during a flash flood: She went into the water. It was nearly knee deep, flowing down Main Street and rising quickly. The rain was unrelenting: a ferocious, sustained downpour.

But the water in the street had not reached the Forget-Me-Not Factory yet. The gift shop across the street occupied a four-story building faced in sturdy granite, and Tennant decided to head there rather than risk getting trapped in her two-story brick and wood structure.

The refuge Tennant found in her neighbors’ shop didn’t last long. Soon, owners Barry and Nancy Gibson were trying to stop water from rushing in through both the front and back of their store. Runoff from the steep hillside behind the building poured into multiple floors at once. And as the water levels rose, those trapped inside realized that their best escape route was to climb up the hill.

The Gibsons led the group, including one shop employee, up the muddy hillside. The rain was so intense that Tennant couldn’t see more than a few inches in front of her. Sheets of water cascaded down the hill. With each labored step, she felt herself sink deeper into the mud. It ate her shoes, but she kept climbing. “I thought I was going to die of a damn heart attack,” Tennant recalls.

Beneath her, lower Main Street had become a raging river that engulfed the first floor of most buildings. About 50 people inside Tea on the Tiber, a Victorian tea house that sits over a branch of the stream that courses beneath the town, now huddled on the second floor, listening to the river tear the dining room apart beneath them. A woman named Jane called 911 on her cellphone.

“Are we going to die?” she asked the dispatcher.


The Memorial Day weekend downpour that struck Ellicott City, Maryland, on May 27, 2018 was a “1,000-year storm”—a rain event so intense that, in any given year, it has a 1-in-1,000 (or 0.1 percent) chance of happening. On that day, back-to-back thunderstorms dumped more than eight inches of rain in just three hours, overwhelming the three streams that converge on the town’s Main Street and sending water crashing down the hill. By evening, according to rain gauges to the north, as much as 15 inches had fallen. The resulting flash flood devastated the historic downtown and killed Eddison “Eddie” Hermond, an Air Force veteran and Maryland Army National Guardsman who was swept away trying to rescue a woman trapped by the floodwaters.

Flooding in Ellicott City is hardly new—the mill town has had at least 18 major floods since it started recording them in 1789. This one, however, was different: It was the second such 1,000-year storm in less than two years. On a Saturday night in July 2016, thunderstorms dropped six inches of rain on the city, triggering flash flooding that killed two people and caused an estimated $22 million in damages, plus $42 million in lost economic activity. In 2011, Tropical Storm Lee generated yet another serious flood. Collectively, the trio of disasters finally forced Ellicott City to take an anguished look at just what its future is likely to look like.
C40 Cities
The Reinventing Cities competition asked architects to find new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in cities around the world. The results are an extraordinary example of what future cities could look like.

As the world moves to a zero-carbon future, cities will be key places to transform–particularly buildings, which account for more than half of emissions in most cities. Reinventing Cities, a competition launched two years ago by C40 Cities, a network of mayors focused on finding solutions to climate change, asked architects to reimagine new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in six cities: Chicago, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Oslo, and Reykjavík. These are the winning proposals; the winning teams now have the chance to buy or lease each site to develop the projects.

On two vacant lots in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood, a new net-zero carbon housing development is designed to run on renewable energy, grow food on the roof, and process stormwater onsite. The ultra-efficient buildings, designed to “passive house” standards, would be built in a local modular factory.

An unused market building in Madrid would be renovated with recycled materials and certified wood and would produce its own power through solar panels on the roof and walls. Inside the market, the community would have access to local, organic produce and workshops about climate change.

On vacant land in a part of Madrid sandwiched between an industrial and residential area, a new development would include student housing, rehearsal spaces and an auditorium for musicians, an organic store, and space for urban farming. Nearly half of the surface area would be devoted to green space.

A new zero-emissions student hub at the Polytechnic University of Madrid–with housing, sport and art facilities, and a lab for sustainability research projects–would use a passive design to shrink energy use. Outside, the walls would be covered in holes to create habitats for plants and animals.

A new factory in Madrid would manufacture biodegradable zinc-air batteries and run on energy from a solar farm on the property, creating more than 100 local jobs. Regenerative agriculture techniques would rehabilitate the soil, and an onsite “Compostlab” would produce compost from local waste.

At a former freight terminal site in Milan, a new social housing project would be the first in Italy to be carbon neutral. The design limits space for personal cars and has extra space for bike parking, charging stations for electric cars, and a neighborhood car-sharing scheme. The buildings would be powered by onsite renewable energy and connected to district heating.

Building Enclosure
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), creators of the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) green building program, announced a new $500,000 grant from Bank of America. The funding supports the LEED certification of 15 U.S. cities and communities. The grant provides financial assistance, educational resources and technical support throughout the certification process. USGBC and Bank of America launched the LEED for Cities and Communities grant program with six U.S. cities in 2018.

“To realize a sustainable future for all, today’s cities and communities must strive to be green, resilient, inclusive and smart,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “The LEED for Cities and Communities certification programs give leaders a framework for planning, designing, measuring and managing the social, economic and environmental performance of the places where they live, work, learn and play. With support from Bank of America, we will empower these grant recipients to deliver a higher living standard for their residents.”

LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system, and earlier this year, USGBC released the newest version of the program, LEED v4.1. The U.S. cities and communities that will benefit from the 2019 grants are the first to pursue LEED v4.1 certification and include:
  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Baltimore, Md.
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Bloomington, Ind.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Greensboro, N.C.
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Orange County, N.Y.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Pueblo County, Colo.
  • Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
  • Royal Oak, Mich.
  • Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Shaker Heights, Ohio
LEED helps local governments develop and track plans for a wide variety of factors, including green infrastructure, public health, energy, social equity, transportation and more. More than 90 cities and communities globally have already been certified through the LEED for Cities and Communities programs.

Bank of America is a longtime member of USGBC and has pursued LEED certification for its own operations. Presently, the company has 19 million square feet of LEED-certified workspace, including more than 200 LEED-certified financial centers.

“USGBC is a leader in creating more environmentally sustainable buildings, cities and communities,” said Alex Liftman, Global Environmental executive at Bank of America. “Our deployment of capital is helping to create thriving communities for the future that are resilient and more sustainable places to work and live.”

The bank previously supported USGBC’s Affordable Green Neighborhoods Program, which provided assistance to eligible nonprofit and public-sector developers of affordable housing to ensure that every new unit of affordable housing meets the highest standards of sustainability and offers residents the healthiest communities possible. In total, Bank of America has provided $2.5 million in grants to USGBC since 2011.

The work with USGBC is part of Bank of America’s broader commitment to environmental sustainability. The company has committed to carbon neutrality and purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. In addition, it has committed to reduce location-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent, energy use by 40 percent, and water use by 45 percent by 2020. Bank of America has also deployed more than $126 billion over the past 12 years in support of environmental business efforts, and it recently announced it will mobilize an additional $300 billion in capital starting next year to support more sustainable business activities. This is its third environmental business commitment as part of its broader Environmental Business Initiative. The bank will meet its current commitment of $125 billion by the end of 2019, six years ahead of schedule.
The design profession, in its many guises, is resolutely optimistic. For a designer, no challenge is so large that he or she can’t develop a solution that will both overcome it and enhance the human experience.

Yet, given the recent onslaught of disheartening news regarding climate change, maintaining such optimism becomes something of a daily test. First, in August of last year, there was the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences article titled “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.” Penned by 16 climate scientists, the article warns that we’re much closer than previously thought to achieving the “hothouse” trajectory—i.e., a warming of 4 or 5 degrees Celsius—which poses “serious challenges for the viability of human societies.” That was followed in October by the much-publicized United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report stating that at our current rate of warming we could potentially be just 12 years away from hitting the tipping point—1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—that would trigger the most horrific aspects of climate change. Now, thanks to a January 8, 2019 New York Times article titled “U.S. Carbon Emissions Surged in 2018 Even as Coal Plants Closed,” we can add to the litany of bad news this fact: “America’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years.”

It would now seem that the alchemy required to turn our dire situation into a golden outcome has grown substantially more complicated. Yet the big leaps on a number of fronts regarding climate change enable us to maintain at least some optimism.

For example, as reported in a December 18, 2018 Forbes article titled “6 Renewable Energy Trends to Watch In 2019,” more than 100 cities across the globe get at least 70 percent of their energy from renewables, and more than 40 operate on 100 percent renewable electricity. Scores more cities are working toward similar goals. At the building scale, techno-logical and legislative developments have made on-site electrical generation easier and cleaner, not to mention more efficient and affordable.

Furthermore, cities are slowly shifting their views on their relationship to nature and choosing to see themselves as part of a larger ecological system rather than as separate from—and, in some instances, bulwarks against—the natural world. This has resulted in forays into biophilic design in places such as Oslo, Portland, and, in particular, Singapore.

As more cities shoulder the responsibility of addressing climate change, architects, designers, and urban planners will have an abundance of opportunities to work alongside them in tackling the unprecedented global challenge that we now face. And the array of actionable measures that our industry can take runs the gamut from common-sense design that reduces humanity’s environmental impact to the adoption of the most cutting-edge tools, materials, and processes that are currently being brought to market.

For an example of the former, look no further than the return to classic urban planning principles that we’ve seen in recent years as a means of lessening our collective carbon footprint. Factors such as walkability and mixed uses, combined with a focus on transit-oriented design, make a car-free lifestyle not only attainable but also desirable: a 2016 study by real estate website redfin.com found that for every one-point increase in a home’s walk score (when that home is compared to similar properties in less-walkable neighborhoods), there is a corresponding increase in home price by nearly one percent. Clearly, there is a demand for mobility options beyond just the automobile.

At the building scale, there are design processes that we can explore to create components that dramatically reduce energy consumption. It’s a well-established fact that forty percent of the energy produced in the United States is consumed in residential and commercial buildings. A significant component of a building that heavily influences energy consumption and is under direct control of architects is its façade. However, we now see a need for façades that are capable of adjusting to the moment-to-moment shifts in the natural environment.

One of the challenges in creating high-performance façades lies in utilizing an alternative-rich design process that is affordable yet easy enough to allow designers of all abilities to use it. That’s why our firm, Gensler, initiated a research effort focused on creating a simulation tool that enables the efficient design of more responsive and energy-e
Now you can add a tiny home or cabin kit to your cart.

You can buy just about anything on Amazon these days, from mundane household necessities to garish novelty items—and now, there are even DIY kits to help you construct your own tiny guest house, shed, office, or lounge. Take a look at the prefabricated units Amazon has to offer below, and get ready to upgrade your backyard.

Allwood Arlanda XXL
Ideal as a detached office, garden shed, or yoga studio, this 273-square-foot kit unit from Allwood will run you $10,695. The structure has large windows, a small porch, and a simple, clean design.

The Arlanda XXL from Allwood is available on Amazon for $10,695.

Ecohousemart Laminated Log House Kit
Made out of glulam—an engineered wood product made out of glued, laminated timber—this house kit has a gross area of 1,290 square feet. The home is designed to have three bedrooms and one bathroom, but note that additional materials not included in the kit are required.

Allwood Solvalla
This studio cabin kit from Allwood provides 172 square feet of outdoor and indoor space. The indoor space is well-lit from large windows on two sides, while the partially enclosed portion is covered with a shed roof and has vertical battens on one side to provide shade. The kit sells for $7,250.

Weizhengheng Expandable Container House
Geared toward those with an interest in sustainable design and lowering their carbon footprint, this expandable container house is made out of a galvanized, light steel frame and runs on a solar power system. The home is made in Germany and is available for $24,800.

Timber Frame House Lounge Kit by Ecohousemart
This prefabricated, cabin-like building is made out of a glulam and clad in northern spruce wood. The 1,000-square-foot structure can be customized depending on the type of foundation, windows and doors, or other requirements you might have, but does not come with these items: the kit mainly includes framing elements.

Allwood Getaway Cabin Kit by Lillevilla
Priced at $18,800, this cabin kit features 292 square feet of space, including a sleeping loft in the taller portion of the gable roof. Because the home has minimal insulation, it would ideally serve as a summer house, home office, or even a stand-alone retail building, but could easily be used as a residence or in colder climates with utility hookups and extra insulation.

Sunray by Allwood
This 162-square-foot cabin kit is available for $8,690 and is typically available to ship within three to five weeks. The kit is ideal for a lake or beach house, with large windows and shading on a deep front porch.
The Turett Collaborative
After three years of research and development, architect Wayne Turett of New York City-based architectural firm The Turett Collaborative has designed and built his long-awaited Passive House in the village of Greenport, New York. Built to the rigorous standards of the Passive House Institute, the airtight dwelling combines cutting-edge technologies with passive solar principles to minimize its energy footprint and meet Turett’s aspirations for a carbon-neutral design.

Held as an example of energy-efficient construction that doesn’t compromise on appearance, the Greenport Passive House was designed to match the aesthetic of the surrounding vernacular with a contemporary twist. The two-story home features a historical barn exterior with ship-lapped gray cedar and cement, while the roof is made from aluminum. Inside, the modern house features clean lines and a light and neutral color palette. The open-plan layout and tall ceilings bring an urban, loft-like feel to the home.

The three key aspects of the Greenport Passive House were an airtight envelope; superior insulation that includes triple-glazed windows to lock in heat and protect against cold drafts; and additions that block unwanted solar heat gain, such as roof overhangs. The all-electric home is heated and cooled with a duct mini-split system and is also equipped with an energy recovery ventilation system. By Passive House Standards, a Passive House, like Turett’s seeks to consumes approximately 90 percent less heating energy than existing buildings and 75 percent less energy than average new construction, according to his project’s press release.

Turett added, “Greenport is more than just an oasis for my family; it is a living model for clients and meant to inspire others, that despite costing a little more to build, the results of living in a Passive Home will more than pay for itself in energy savings and helping the environment.”