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Initial Learnings from the VISION House Seattle Cascades

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Jun 6, 2019 11:23:27 AM

As Green Builder Media embarks on our next extraordinary demonstration project, the VISION House Seattle Cascades with Meritage Homes VP Innovation CR Herro, we fully embrace the exquisite joys and agonizing realities of building in today’s market.

There’s nothing quite like designing and building one’s dream home—fashioning the glimmer of an idea, the concept of a state of being, into a delightful structure that comforts the mind and manifests the soul.

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A New Zeitgeist: From Climate Change to Climate Crisis

Posted by Sara Gutterman

May 30, 2019 11:01:13 AM

A myriad of scientific findings indicate that we have entered a state of alarming climate emergency.  Appropriate action must ensue. 

In October, 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report that clearly stated that we have about a decade to reduce carbon dioxide levels by 50% by 2030 in order to avoid environmental catastrophe.  The report urged policy makers to implement sweeping regulation in all sectors of the economy with the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 45% of 2010 levels within 12 years and reaching carbon neutrality on a global scale by 2050. 

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Builders: Put Green-Shaming Housing Maps to Good Use

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 24, 2019 9:26:32 AM

Sharing utility bills in public maps creates peer pressure among neighboring properties. Why not become an equalizer?

Human nature is  a fickle thing. Builders with good intentions with regard to housing performance and sustainability often run up against would-be homeowners who care about little other than square footage and countertop materials. For years, those of us in the "green" camp of construction have sought the magic bullets that will convert everyone to the side of conservation and responsibility. To date, our strongest allies have probably been the ever tightening parameters of building codes. The time is rapidly approaching when no new home in the U.S. will be built with less than Net Zero-plus performance.

In the meantime, however, we have roughly 130 million existing homes in need of performance upgrades, and with the advent of certain new technology, these under-performing homes, for better or worse, will have no place to hide.

This technology is data sharing via interactive maps.

For example, Gainesville, Florida, has launched a Beta website called Gainesville-Green.com that publishes the relative energy used by different house parcels in the same neighborhood. This interactive mapping system allows homeowners, utilities and city officials to quickly identify individual homes and entire neighborhoods that use a lot more power than their neighbors.

Peer pressure from neighbors has historically proven an effective method of getting people to tighten up. According to Popular Science, studies by Opower and other organizations have shown significant reduction in energy use by neighbors, when presented with the fact that their neighbors are doing upgrades.

 

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Assisted Living Technology: Urgency and Empathy

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 23, 2019 1:37:23 PM

Making the lives of seniors better offers technology firms a priceless objective.

Often, the dark side of technology seems to outweigh its value. Too late, for example, are we learning about Facebook’s role in spreading hate speech, fueling conspiracies and generating false news. Watch a few episodes of “Black Mirror” and you’ll see many examples of technology’s disruptive potential. But does technology have to careen out of control?

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Global Plastic Plague Reaches Epidemic Proportions

Posted by Sara Gutterman

May 16, 2019 1:03:26 PM

Intrepid American explorer Victor Vescovo journeyed to the bottom of the sea, and what did he find?  Plastic.  Aside from the heartbreaking fact that the everlasting material can now be found in the most remote places of the planet, here is why it’s important to humanity.

It’s official: from the highest mountain peaks to the depths of the ocean floor, our planet is covered in plastic. 

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Mass Extinctions: What is the Value of Life?

Posted by Sara Gutterman

May 9, 2019 9:56:21 AM

The United Nations just released a report confirming that one million essential plant and animal species are on the brink of extinction due to destructive farming practices, excessive hunting activities, carbon emissions, and climate change.  How can we be so complacent about such a colossal loss of life?

Earlier this week, the United Nations released the results of their Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, compiled by hundreds of international scientists based on thousands of field studies, verifying that “Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before.”

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Calling All True Thought Leaders, Visionaries, and Agents of Change!

Posted by Sara Gutterman

May 2, 2019 2:09:34 PM

Green Builder Media is delighted to announce our fourth annual Sustainability Symposium 2020, scheduled for the auspicious date of January 20, 2020 in Las Vegas.  If you have creative solutions that address the nexus between sustainability, social justice, and economic prosperity, we encourage you to submit a presentation proposal today!

The National Academy of Sciences confirms that climate change has exacerbated global social and economic inequality.  Understanding the causes of these disparities is critical for achieving equitable communities, because sustainable communities embody more than energy efficiency, water conservation, smart technologies, and renewables.  They also protect the human condition, providing the fundamentals for people to live vibrantly and with dignity. 

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Solving for Energy and Water: Progress from Coast to Coast

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Apr 25, 2019 2:11:25 PM

From California to New York, codes, mandates, programs, and projects are ushering in a new era of sustainability, tackling the most critical issues related to the built environment: energy and water. 

With each incremental code, policy, incentive, and program, California continues to blaze a trail with regard to sustainable living.  From banning single-use plastics to increasing electric vehicle requirements to implementing strict regulations designed to enhance the performance of the built environment, California is making headway in its enduring quest for a more sustainable future, despite facing opposition from Washington at every turn.

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Fire Risks Make the Switch to Mineral Wool Exteriors Urgent

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 24, 2019 10:42:20 AM

Recent disastrous fires and changing codes suggest that rigid foam cladding is too risky, but mineral wool can fill the void.

Since the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire in the UK in June of 2017, questions about the safety of cladding commercial structures with rigid foam continue to arise. To be clear, concerns about low-rise residential properties seem less urgent. The issue is whether structures that contain large number of people—apartment buildings, office complexes, schools and hospitals-- are put in harm’s way by continuous rigid foam-based cladding.

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The Align Project: Align Your Future

Posted by Juliet Grable

Apr 22, 2019 1:58:27 PM

It’s time to rethink where we live, what we buy and how we can help ourselves go with green.

On the one hand: climate change disasters, species extinction, geo-political upheavals and population growth. On the other: renewable energy, zero-carbon transportation, protein substitutes and smart tech. When thinking about the future, it’s easy to vacillate between hope and despair. Throughout The Align Project, we’ve been reexamining how we live. Now it’s time to look ahead and question our assumptions about the future.

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Building Irony

Posted by Ron Jones

Apr 18, 2019 12:50:17 PM

One of the great ironies of the state of the housing industry in this country is that, for at least as long as I can remember, the people who actually build houses, carpenters, masons, plumbers, painters, roofers, concrete finishers, and so on, are among those least able to afford to own, and in many cases even rent, the residences that they build.

In a small market like ours that fact is especially poignant since a disproportional part of our small workforce is engaged in the construction industry, second only to tourism related endeavors that are mostly in the recreational travel and services sector.  And, sadly, whether those workers make a living swinging a hammer or selling gasoline and pork rinds to summer visitors their local housing opportunities are about the same.  Poor at best.

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Brand Excellence vs Brand Arrogance

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Apr 11, 2019 11:10:12 AM

Trusted companies that listen closely to their customers improve products rapidly.

What makes a great brand, when it comes to earning and keeping the mental space of sustainability? Let me give you two examples: Owens Corning and TOTO.

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Demand Side Energy Management: Why it Matters

Posted by Sara Gutterman

Apr 4, 2019 10:17:31 AM

Demand Side Energy Management (DSM) is the hidden hero of energy efficiency, cost savings, and grid optimization.  While the term sounds esoteric and even a little boring, the reality of DSM is quite exciting.  Here’s the skinny on what it means, how it works, and why you should care.

Demand Side Energy Management, or DSM, is all the rage in sustainable development these days.  DSM refers to the modification of energy demand through behavioral change and load shifting.  DSM enables homeowners and building occupants to reduce energy use during peak hours, shifting energy use to off-peak times (such as nighttime and weekends.)

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