What’s Next: Green Building

Despite all the talk about net-zero and net-positive architecture, green buildings remain elusive for the mainstream. There are, however, some promising developments: state and municipal tax incentives, stricter building codes, and commercial real estate honchos who have finally figured out that sustainable design stuffs cash into their pockets. Progress hangs on the tricky interplay of public policy and technology. Here two experts look at how we can add everything up to get zero.

ONE year:

“We are seeing a lot more interest in distributed energy. The U.S. Green Building Council’s new headquarters, for example, have a roof for a PV; if it’s metered separately, they have their own little power plant up there to run their hot water. You don’t have to rely on the power plant downstream or upstream to supply your power. And since solar is really starting to make sense (because of the stimulus package), we see a lot of people interested in getting into this and scaling it up.”

SALLY WILSON, global director of environmental strategy at CB Richard Ellis

FIVE years:

“How can you capture daylight and send it deep into a building? What it requires is glazing with complicated optics, which have special light-redirecting capabilities. Marilyn Andersen [at MIT] is working on this.”

LEON GLICKSMAN, head of the Building Technology Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Architecture

TEN years:

“We’re doing some research in nanotechnology looking at aerogel, which is probably the best insulation that’s available. Aerogel is a kind of material with very fine, tiny pores. We’re hoping we can use it to improve building insulation in new buildings or retrofits.” —L.G.

What’s Next: The 1-5-10 Issue
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