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The electrification of buildings is considered to be a primary strategy for reducing carbon emissions and kicking fossil fuels. Luckily, due to advancements in technology and carefully developed best practices, heat pumps may be a driving force in helping us to achieve our all-electric goals. But when do heat pumps make sense? As we know, there’s n…
 
As building professionals and policymakers, it is our responsibility to integrate equity into our work. But how do we ensure equity is being addressed in a comprehensive manner? Fortunately, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has developed a framework for local government decision makers to serve as a guide for ensuring equity in the…
 
We first released this episode in April 2019. Since then, our topic of discussion with Iain has only become more relevant. We recently caught up with Iain and have some updates to share, which are reflected in the resources below and at the end of the episode. Enjoy! When you fire on a stove-top burner, whether it is electric, gas, or convection, m…
 
With all of the moving parts during the design and construction of a building project, one wrong move can compromise accessibility compliance. Unintentional oversights are commonplace when project teams don’t realize the importance of accessibility compliance and how it can make or break a project’s success. In the end, the devil’s in the details. …
 
We think a lot about high-performance buildings – but what about the high-performance humans in those buildings? As the future of office-dwelling is on everyone’s mind, there are a lot of questions surrounding how buildings can help or hinder human health and wellbeing. Tenants may be wondering what questions to ask building owners and building own…
 
What role do designers, providers, and policymakers play in making senior living communities more vibrant and supportive for older adult residents? How do these spaces enhance the experience of those living, working, and visiting the residence? In this month’s episode we chat with Valerie Mutterperl about her experience in senior living design, and…
 
Comradery [käm-ˌra-d(ə-)rē] noun 1 A feeling of friendliness, goodwill, and familiarity among the people in a group. At SWA, comradery is etched into our company principles – friendliness and community have been key parts of SWA’s business since the company was born. At the end of the day, we are all trying to make the world a more sustainable and …
 
Cities across North America are paving the way for wide-spread building electrification. Although there are many benefits associated with going all-electric, there are also many barriers that stand in the way. Building Electrification Institute acts as resource for cities in their equitable transition to building electrification through education, …
 
Imagine this: you’re a chef or cook in a high-stress commercial kitchen setting. You’re making split second decisions with little breathing room, and each quick decision can get you cut or burned. On top of that, you’re in over 100-degree heat, breathing in toxic air from your gas stovetop. This is an experience Chris Galarza could relate to, from …
 
We’ve all heard of “farm-to-table” in the context of our food, but what about “farm-to-shelter” in the context of our homes? As we try to become more conscious about the food we eat and the clothes we wear, we must also consider the materials we use when constructing our homes. While many acknowledge the need for better materials in buildings, very…
 
Disability inclusion in the built environment is extremely important. But, it shouldn’t end there. How do we ensure that we are being truly inclusive of all types of people, taking into account a wider diversity of backgrounds, orientations, and abilities? The answer is Universal Design. On this episode of Building’s + Beyond, Robb chats with forme…
 
Social equity is key to the work that we do in the built environment. Far too often, marginalized communities receive more of the burdens and less of the benefits of 21st century living – especially when it comes to housing. As an industry, it is our responsibility to address these disparities and come up with solutions that are inclusive of all pe…
 
In a city as crowded and expensive as New York City, there is a growing need for access to safe and affordable housing. With this demand comes great innovation, as well as roadblocks and challenges between construction, financing, and policy. In this month’s Buildings + Beyond episode, Robb sits down with Les Bluestone, co-founder of Blue Sea Devel…
 
Standard construction (both in America and Australia) is sometimes a “race to the bottom” of who can satisfy the building code at the lowest cost. We know this doesn’t always result in better buildings, so we have to educate the industry and encourage a commitment to quality based on solid science. This is what our guest, Sean Maxwell, devoted his …
 
The transportation sector poses significant opportunities for and challenges to reducing US greenhouse gas emissions as the Country’s highest-emissions sector. As a result of stay-at-home orders issued in March and April in cities and states across the US, we’ve seen a visible difference in smog in part due to less driving. Streets in cities also c…
 
As technology in the built environment increases, the workforce demand for those who can properly operate these buildings also grows. On today’s episode, Kelly talks with Jonathan Spooner from Stacks + Joules, a nonprofit learning program in computer programming and wireless network management. Stacks + Joules helps train and employ young people to…
 
April was Fair Housing Month – a time to recognize the importance of equal access to housing. As we celebrate the milestones we have made, we are committed to furthering equal access for every person – regardless of race, gender, nationality, socio-economic status, disability, etc. On this month’s Buildings + Beyond episode, we interview Luis Quint…
 
Curious about how building performance standards are decided upon? The IECC, or “model code”, establishes the minimum requirements for building energy efficiency by specifying the performance levels for the building envelope, mechanical systems, lighting systems, and service water heating systems in homes and commercial businesses. This model code …
 
We often address large-scale sustainability issues by focusing on improving building energy use, material use, and accessibility. But what about waste? According to the EPA, the average American generates 4.51 pounds of trash each day. To learn about strategies for reducing waste, we interviewed Celeste McMickle, Director of Client Solutions for TR…
 
For the past 30 years or more, when we’ve been talking about the carbon emissions of buildings, we’ve usually been talking about operational emissions – the carbon put in the atmosphere after the building is built. We now know that 30-50% of a building’s total carbon emissions are already in the atmosphere before the lights are even turned on. Thes…
 
As code requirements become more stringent around the country, the process of commissioning is more valuable now than ever before. Acting as third-party quality assurance providers, commissioning agents help building owners by improving the quality of construction and reducing maintenance and energy costs in the long run. On this episode, Robb inte…
 
Did you know that New York City is home to approximately one million people with disabilities? As we often discuss strategies for improving the built environment, it is critical that accessibility remains at the forefront of the conversation. So, in a city as big and dynamic as New York, who is tasked with ensuring that the spaces in which we live,…
 
As building professionals, we often ask ourselves, “what are the most critical components to a high-performance building?” Portland, Maine based architect and building science expert, Jesse Thompson, will tell you it’s air-sealing and ventilation. On this episode of Buildings and Beyond, Jesse explains the importance of incorporating as many Passiv…
 
When all is said and done, buildings are intended for people. So, why do some buildings lack the components critical to human health and happiness? This podcast explores the human-centered approach to designing buildings, focusing on the value preference systems that guide our everyday decisions. To help us better understand this often neglected to…
 
The residential building industry has made incredible progress toward sustainability and energy efficiency goals. At the same time, Senior Sustainability Consultant and Registered Architect Steve Klocke finds many new buildings under-performing because designers continue to make simple, avoidable mistakes. Based on lessons he’s learned from certify…
 
The residential building industry has made incredible progress toward sustainability and energy efficiency goals. At the same time, Senior Sustainability Consultant and Registered Architect Steve Klocke finds many new buildings under-performing because designers continue to make simple, avoidable mistakes. Based on lessons he’s learned from certify…
 
The advancement of building materials has allowed professionals to achieve new heights when designing and constructing high-performance buildings. But, the topic of building materials is not discussed enough, and more consumers are asking important questions. How do we know where these materials come from? What effects do they have on human health …
 
The advancement of building materials has allowed professionals to achieve new heights when designing and constructing high-performance buildings. But, the topic of building materials is not discussed enough, and more consumers are asking important questions. How do we know where these materials come from? What effects do they have on human health …
 
As we enter a new era of climate policy, we wanted to evaluate some of the efforts major cities have made along the way. How do cities compare? What improvements have they made? And where should cities start with regards to climate action? To help us answer these questions, we called upon Laurie Kerr, a climate policy veteran who helped shape the s…
 
As we continue our discussions around high-performance buildings, we would be remiss if we did not discuss the laudable endeavor that is MP Boston’s Winthrop Square. Projected to be the fourth tallest building in Boston and the largest Passive House office space in the world, Winthrop Square is a pinnacle of high-performance design. Although constr…
 
Considered one of the most ambitious and innovative legislative initiatives of any major U.S. city, New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act has significant implications for property owners. The most significant bill in the package, Introduction 1253, will hold owners accountable for their buildings’ energy performance by mandating buildings over 2…
 
Universal Design recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to design and construction. By incorporating Universal Design features into the built environment, we can accommodate for the widest variety of people, regardless of their limitations. But, while the buzz around Universal Design is growing, we still receive many questions surro…
 
Air quality, acoustics, and thermal comfort are just some of the critical elements to consider when assessing the indoor environmental quality of a building. But how are these characteristics measured in schools, and what programs do we have to ensure they are being prioritized? Joining us for this episode is John Balfe from Northeast Energy Effici…
 
When you fire on a stove-top burner, whether it is electric, gas, or convection, many byproducts are released. This increase in moisture, gas, and other particulates is not only detrimental to the health of a building, but dangerous for human health as well. To advance our knowledge on this topic, we invited building scientist and ventilation exper…
 
Critical to the make-up of a high-performance building, is a well-designed, carefully construction building enclosure. Thanks to advancements in building-science knowledge, building materials, and construction best practices, achieving a well-insulated, air-tight building envelope can be possible if executed correctly. On this episode of Buildings …
 
The electrification of buildings has become a growing trend in both residential and commercial sectors. Consumers that combine energy efficiency measures with newer heat-pump technologies can reduce both their utility bills and their carbon emissions. In fact, those with low loads can even achieve net zero when renewables are applied. To discuss th…
 
Did you know that in the U.S., 48% of energy consumption and 45% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to buildings (EIA 2012)? As designers, developers, and maintenance professionals who work with buildings, we have a responsibility to reverse these negative effects to preserve our resources and protect the health of future generations. So, w…
 
The buildings where we live, work, and play are getting smarter. Even our refrigerators can tell us if we need to buy more cheese while we are at the grocery store. But that’s not what this episode is about. Mostly not. Today we are talking to David Unger, Founder of Sentient Buildings and an expert in the strategic implementation of IoT technologi…
 
Buying a home can be overwhelming. There are many factors that need to be considered and decisions that need to be made. For many Americans, aesthetics often outweigh certain characteristics critical to a home’s success, such as health, comfort, and efficiency. To help us evaluate these critical characteristics, we’ve asked SWA’s COO and Mechanical…
 
Mainstream demand for highly efficient, resilient, and cost-effective buildings is greater than ever before. More people are looking to integrate zero energy design and construction strategies without having to sacrifice modern conveniences and amenities. So, how do we implement solutions that enable us to use less energy… without feeling like we’r…
 
Air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) are a booming business. In the Northeast, manufacturers report that sales of residential systems have increased by 25-35% per year over the past 5-10 years. We’ve seen more and more systems being installed in all types of buildings. On this episode of Buildings and Beyond, Kelly sits down with her co-host and Principal…
 
There are approximately 57 million Americans living with disabilities in the United States; worldwide, people with disabilities make up 15% of our population. Given this information, we must do our part to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to opportunities afforded to everyone – starting with equal access to buildings. This wee…
 
By the end of 2050, solar energy is projected to be the world’s largest source of electricity. While utility-scale solar will comprise much of this capacity, there will also be significant growth in the commercial and residential sectors – particularly in cities. On episode three of Buildings and Beyond, Kelly interviews SWA’s solar expert, Eric Wa…
 
As we continue to uncover the human health impacts associated with buildings – a space in which we spend 87% of our lives – it is important that we find new and innovative methods of construction to improve overall health and quality of life for occupants. On this episode of Buildings and Beyond, Robb sits down with SWA’s Managing Director of Susta…
 
Extreme energy efficiency, superior thermal comfort, and ensured durability: these are the three major concepts behind the Passive House standard. First developed in Germany in the 1990’s, this building performance standard has evolved into a worldwide model for high performance construction which has been applied to a wide range of building typolo…
 
We are excited to introduce our new podcast, Buildings and Beyond! Join us as we explore how we can create a more sustainable built environment by focusing on efficiency, accessibility, and health. Check out the trailer to find out what we have in store for season 1. And be sure to subscribe to Buildings and Beyond so you don’t miss any of our upco…
 
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