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

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

Envisioning California’s Bold Net Zero Shift

Photo credit: Zaha Hadid Architects

The Sci-Fi Vision to Push Us Further

Sometimes, science fiction gets it right. Total Recall, one of Arnold’s first slam dunk movies, predicted full body scanners before they were the norm at airports (you may know them as x-ray “backscatter” machines). Blade Runner, released in 1982, introduced video calls to moviegoers. Now we have Facetime, Google Hangouts, Skype, and who could forget Snapchat, where we can even communicate with one another while wearing weird virtual masks. It’s great to see how old movies have unintentionally informed modern technology. But, watching modern Sci-Fi movies and wondering whether or not they will accurately depict the future of humanity can be a little worrisome for some. One recent flick, Midnight Special, has an ending (spoiler alert) that should not trouble anyone, but instead be an inspiration for how our built environment should look in the future. Read more

The Building That Goes Beyond Net Zero

Photo credit: Bullitt Center

“Please, come crap in my building.” Jason McClennan, during his inspiring TED Talks speech about the Living Building Challenge, half-jokingly says that he tells people this because of his office building’s unique bathrooms. But, what actually makes these unique? What is it about this office building that makes a positive impact on the environment when people use it? Read more

Our Built Environment Filled With Net Zeros: Energy, Water, and Waste

Photo credit: JE Dunn

Building Within the Site

Before jumping into all of the numerous ‘Net Zero’ definitions that exist for one simple idea, lets go back in time briefly to examine how efficient home design has influenced one aspect of this famous buzzword today. Germany (with the help of Lund University in Sweden) was first to coin the design for an ultra energy-efficient home—the “Passivhaus.” The idea, still relevant today for all net zero energy structures, is to build a home or building in such a way so that the need for artificial heating and cooling is severely reduced. But how does a builder accomplish this? Read more