Category: Green building

Pathways to Residential Deep Energy Reductions and Decarbonization

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Existing homes hold great potential for saving energy and reducing carbon emissions. To realize that potential, the United States must dramatically increase the adoption of deep retrofits (which produce energy savings of 40% or more). This study explored several strategies that can make deep retrofits more manageable and appealing to consumers. We analyzed deep retrofits coupled with electrification of space and water heating (with heat pumps) in common types of homes in the five major U.S. climate regions. We analyzed three retrofit scenarios (a one-time comprehensive retrofit and two staged retrofits) to compare project costs and energy, carbon, and bill savings over time. We also evaluated alternate measures that may reduce project costs and improve consumer appeal. Deep retrofit projects are expensive; we conducted a financial analysis to determine the level of upfront investment or incentives required to keep monthly payments manageable for most households. We find that staged retrofit options and expanded measure packages can increase program flexibility to better meet consumer needs and interests without sacrificing energy savings. These approaches—coupled with strong federal and efficiency program incentives—can also make the cost of decarbonization more manageable. Promising program designs and financing options are emerging to support these approaches.

Energy-efficient isn’t enough, so homes go ‘net zero’

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Demand for residences that produce as much energy as they consume is being spurred by climate concerns, consumer appetite and more affordable solar technology.

Recycling CO2 into methanol: Decarbonizing the cement sector

Read the full story at Azo Materials.

New research in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry Engineering shows a way of constructing a carbon recycling plant (CRP) to create methanol using the developing electrochemical reduction (ER) of carbon dioxide.

Bird law spells lights out for city-owned buildings in bid to save feathered friends

Read the full story at The City.

Legislation recently passed by the [New York City] City Council will force city-owned buildings to turn off the lights at night — saving electricity and eliminating some of the visual pollution that both draws and confuses birds navigating the big city.

Coupled with a law that came into effect in January requiring new buildings to incorporate bird-friendly designs — including simple window decals to warn them away from glass towers — avian advocates hope the Council moves will make a difference in the wake of climate-related threats to our feathered friends.

This new ultraefficient Habitat for Humanity house is also easy for volunteers to assemble

Read the full story at Fast Company.

To build Habitat for Humanity’s new design for a passive house, volunteers just need to put prefab parts together. It could help make sustainable-home construction more affordable.

Funding available for environmental and installation energy technology demonstrations

The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), supports the demonstration of technologies that address priority DoD environmental and installation energy requirements.

The goal of ESTCP is to promote the transfer of innovative technologies through demonstrations that collect the data needed for regulatory and DoD end-user acceptance. Projects conduct formal demonstrations at DoD facilities and sites in operational settings to document and validate improved performance and cost savings.

ESTCP is seeking proposals for demonstrations of innovative environmental and installation energy technologies as candidates for funding beginning in FY 2023. The solicitation requests pre-proposals via Calls for Proposals to Federal organizations and via a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Private Sector organizations. Preproposals are due March 10, 2022 by 2 p.m. ET.

Detailed instructions are available on the ESTCP website.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) and Call for Proposals (CFP) for Federal Organizations Outside DoD are seeking pre-proposals for technologies in the following topic areas:

  • Innovative Technology Transfer Approaches
  • Management of Impacted Groundwater
  • Long-term Management of Impacted Aquatic Sediments
  • Detection, Classification, Localization, and Remediation of Military Munitions in Underwater Environments
  • Time-series and New Site Updates to the Defense Regional Sea Level (DRSL) Database
  • Improved Wildland Fire Management Tools for Testing and Training Land Utilization
  • Biological Control of Non-indigenous Invasive Species Affecting Military Testing and Training Activities
  • Technology Demonstrations to Accelerate Deployment of Energy and Water Efficiency and Resilience Solutions
  • Energy Resilience on DoD Installations
  • Solutions to Improve Space Heating and Water Heating
  • Efficiency Use of Thermal Microgrids to Improve Energy Efficiency and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Improved Life-cycle Management of Packaged Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning (HVAC) Systems
  • Improved Water Resilience on DoD Installations
  • Impact of Climate Change on DoD Buildings
  • Climate Impacts on DoD Water Infrastructure
  • Analyzing the Impacts of Weather Events on DoD Installations
  • Improving Climate Resilience of DoD Installation and Surrounding Community Infrastructure

Informational webinar

ESTCP Director Dr. Herb Nelson, Deputy Director Dr. Andrea Leeson, and the ESTCP Program Managers will conduct an online seminar on January 20, 2022, from noon-1:30 pm CST. This briefing will offer valuable information for those interested in new ESTCP funding opportunities. During the online seminar, participants may ask questions about the funding process, the current ESTCP solicitation, and the proposal submission process. Pre-registration for this webinar is required.

If you have difficulty registering, please contact the ESTCP Support Office at or by telephone at 571-372-6565.

The grass isn’t always greener

Read the full story at Q Magazine.

America’s largest irrigated crop is not corn, soy, or anything else you might find in the commodity marketplace. It’s turf grass: the crop that American homeowners grow in pursuit of the dream of a lush, green, manicured lawn. According to NASA, the United States has around 40 million acres of turf grass, which is an area roughly equivalent to that of the state of Wisconsin. This makes turf grass our largest irrigated crop and one that has replaced scores of diverse habitats for wildlife. Turf grass helps lawn-owners achieve a long-cherished suburban fantasy, but it does not produce food or anything else useful for the environment. In fact, the dream of a pristine lawn comes at a high cost, requiring excessive inputs like water, gas, and chemicals. What might it take to reimagine the American lawn?  

Missouri cement plants scramble to cut greenhouse gases. ‘These are the steps that we need to take now.’

Read the full story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Missouri cement producers are looking to a range of new technologies — from freezing carbon as it exits smokestacks to chemically separating it — to combat the industry’s massive greenhouse gas pollution, and join a trend gathering momentum.

Opportunities for sustainability in the built environment

Read the full story from Racounteur.

Infrastructure and real estate present varying ESG risks to institutional investors, but there are still opportunities to fund environmentally and socially responsible construction projects that offer acceptable returns.

Mixing steel and wood to cut construction emissions

Read the full story at Anthropocene.

A new computational tool developed by researchers at MIT could let architects and engineers lower the carbon footprint of buildings and bridges. The tool helps designers pick the best material that minimize carbon emissions of trusses, those crisscrossing structures of beams and struts used to construct bridges, antenna towers, and buildings.

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