The recent report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, is a tough read.
The IPCC report states that “unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.” A 1.5°C increase in global warming is believed to be the tipping point at which climate change would be irreversible.
As you know, buildings and homes account for 39% of global carbon emissions—28% for operations (heating /cooling, lighting, etc.), 11% for building materials and construction.
To address this issue, in 2008, we published a 64-page report, “Green Buildings + Climate Change,” which spelled out 22 steps that design and construction firms could take to flatten the GHG growth curve. Two recommendations remain worthy of further consideration.
The first advised AEC firms to “work with your clients to encourage them to use the most energy-efficient products and systems in their [building] projects.” Today, there are more than 50 certification programs—LEED being the granddaddy of them all—for buildings, building products, homes, whole neighborhoods, sites, parking structures, and schools.
The second recommendation encouraged AEC firms to “leverage your supply chain to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.” We recommended that contractors use their purchasing power to “encourage (or require) suppliers to post the carbon emissions of their products and systems online or in their purchase orders.” Many product suppliers are doing that in the form of environmental product declarations and health product declarations.
This past July, AGC of America formed a Climate Change Task Force to hone in on “the top impacts associated with climate change for construction markets and construction firms” and to “engage with equipment manufacturers to improve energy efficiency and emissions performance without sacrificing safety or power output.”
In Northern California, a coalition of GCs called the Bay Area Sustainable Construction Leaders is asking equipment manufacturers and rental companies what they’re doing to electrify their fleets. All the major equipment makers, from Caterpillar to Volvo, know they have to electrify. Ford has introduced the all-electric F-150 Lightning work truck. Sunbelt Rentals has issued a “Sustainability Plan 2030” that aligns with eight of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. It’s a movement that would have been unheard of 10 years ago.
You can learn what progressive suppliers are doing about climate change at ProCONNECT Sustainability | Wellness | Resilience (Nov 2-3, 2021), where AEC professionals and real estate developers with responsibility for high-performance buildings can meet one-on-one with top product manufacturers to discuss their firms’ climate-action agendas and discover practical solutions that can enhance their high-performance projects.
More than 50 firms will be participating in ProCONNECT Sustainability. (There is no charge for Attendees.) For more information, contact: Dan Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org.