The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center

Photo credit: Hourigan Construction

When it comes to green buildings, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is no rookie. 15 years ago, in 2001, CBF was the first in the world to claim a LEED Platinum certified building as its own. Their Philip Merrill Environmental Center, CBF’s Annapolis, Maryland headquarters, incorporates composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, and various other water-saving strategies that enable it to achieve a 90% reduction in water use compared to a conventional office building. As CBF is a non-profit whose sole objective is to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, this is certainly one organization that walks the talk (or paddles the babble?) Now, in 2016, CBF has gone above-and-beyond the status quo once again, one-upping their Maryland office with a brand new 10,000-square-foot Living Building Certified center in Virginia Beach, VA. What is it that makes their latest Brock Environmental Center one of the greenest buildings in the world? Read more

California: Pushed to the Forefront in Sustainability

Photo credit: CA.gov & Damon Winter

Why is California so sustainable? Well, necessity really.

At first glance, California is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country, with a whopping 353 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 2013 based on EIA reports. Taking a closer look at the per capita emissions, however, we can see that California is actually one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide, with only 9.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person compared to the national average of 16.7 metric tons per person. Interesting? In fact, according to state statistics California is 48th in the nation in per capital energy consumption, 2nd in net renewables, and 1st in solar and geothermal. California is leading the way in terms of energy efficiency and clean energy. Read more

Net Zero Buildings: Impacts on the Grid

Photo credit: Pexels

Buildings account for nearly 40% of US carbon emissions. This means that low emission buildings must be part of our clean sustainable future. Initiatives such as Architecture 2030 and California’s Title 24 are not only helping to pave the way by creating a general framework for sustainable buildings but pushing the boundary with Net Zero Buildings (NZB’s) or Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB’s) that aim to almost completely offset a building’s adverse climate change impacts. These buildings will produce just as much energy as they consume and will be commonplace by 2020 and 2030. Read more

The Business Case for LCA Indicators in Real Estate

Photo credit: Asia Green Buildings

Update (11/9/2016): The WBCSD has just published the results of the surveys sent out below in a full case study report, which is downloadable here.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is an organization made up of over 200 companies, who represent all business sectors, all continents, and have a combined revenue of over $7 trillion U.S. dollars. From their website, the WBCSD “galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.” Many of the sustainability initiatives that have spurred out of the WBCSD are related to the built environment. The WBCSD’s Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) project, launched in 2013, has created a building energy efficiency toolkit for organizations, which focuses on the business case for saving energy and is illustrated with good practices from companies. WBCSD called on all of the organizations involved with the EEB project to sign their Manifesto for Energy Efficiency in Buildings—by signing the Manifesto, companies can “walk the talk” and send a strong message to the market, stakeholders, and employees. Read more

Tesla, Solar City, and the Future of Home Energy

Photo credit: Business Finance News

Elon Musk is probably one of the strongest proponents for sustainability today. His first strategy to reduce carbon emissions was to phase out inefficient combustion engines through the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Now, as evident from Tesla’s merger with Solar City, Musk’s second strategy is to strategically supply green power to the grid.

Musk wants to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles through Telsa, home batteries through the Power Wall, and solar panels through the acquisition of Solar City. By bringing together these three components under one house, it enables the potential for full home energy management systems. Though there is a mixed response in terms of the business case for the merger, what are the technical motivations behind it? It all has to do with the future of smart homes, the grid, resiliency, and cross compatibility of services. Read more