Today’s green building standards, rating systems and codes are stale, largely based in decades old science and do not go far enough to be efficacious for most business to invest in.
This is no longer a genuine debate over the negative environmental impact that buildings have on the planet. But the green building industrial complex is missing that green building can be the solution to many of the environmental impacts arising from human activity and at the same time make a business case that green building can be profitable.
There is little real dispute that given humans take shelter from the climate inside buildings, humans need to design and construct those buildings to be resilient in whatever climatic zones the building is located. Moreover, when the human population of the planet that is today over 7 billion is widely expected to exceed 10 billion by 2050, those people will seek shelter in buildings, most of which have not yet been constructed, there is a huge opportunity in what is built.
Green building is a low risk geoengineering solution to many of the environmental issues of the day.
That Green buildings can significantly reduce energy use, water use, solid waste and CO2 emissions is true, but that is old and stale. And net zero efforts generally unwisely use the same tired science and sacrifice occupant comfort while not going broad enough or deep enough often at great dollar and other costs. And there is not room in this brief blog post to talk about the junk science and other unsupported science found in many green building credits (e.g., think non-roof urban heat island effect).
Today the debate about building has shifting away from a discussion of risk toward the question of “how to capitalize on exciting opportunities.” Companies and investors are quickly realizing that environmental matters are social, political and moral issues, but also economic and business opportunities as well. This is translating into a wave of investment and innovation including in real estate, much of which is ahead of and not supported by today’s green building standards, rating systems and codes, including not in the 2018 updates?!
Parents in charrettes for new K-12 schools say their number one environmental concern is germs and the integration of anti microbial building materials, .. not something current American green building addresses well. Moreover, there are federal and state laws that all but prohibit anti germicidal claims.
The “new” materials credits for EPDs and HPDs in green building programs are based on 1970s ISOs created but never actually adopted in Europe and are not being widely used irrespective of the fact that they have been denuded of matters toxicity.
The EPA reports indoor air pollution is one of the top environmental risks to public health and a study of new high end home buyers found indoor air quality be their chief ask (not energy efficiency), but green building programs do not accentuate wall and ceiling coatings that act as air scrubbers to substantially reduce VOCs and other airborne organic particulates in interior spaces.
Concomitantly, coatings available in the market reduce odors in bathroom, kitchens and everywhere by purifying the air, not simply masking odors.
Other airborne organic particulates can be reduced in interior spaces tremendously reducing inside dust not only in clean laboratory rooms, but every treated room in home and office.
And some of the most exciting materials in the market today actually have the building exterior making a positive impact on the environment. Green building programs should today focus on geoengineering solutions like façade cladding treatments where titanium dioxide nanoparticles not only self clean the building exterior, but also clean the surrounding air! These products are not the science fiction of tomorrow, but rather they exist today and are being used. In one example researchers at Louisiana State University performed lab tests and a field study with Pureti’s titanium dioxide technology and determined it was effective, so that the treated façade at a building under construction at 570 Broome in Manhattan will have an environmental impact equivalent to removing 625 cars from the road.
Policy making staff at green building programs can debate why green building has stalled in the U.S. or can aggressively follow the market to the future updating the green building standards, rating systems and codes to be the low risk geoengineering solution to the environmental issues of the day that the business community wants and demands.
This blog post is a compilation of issues discussed by Stuart Kaplow in a recent presentation about “the science of your next green building.”