Act Locally, Build Green

The news on climate change has been coming fast and furious lately. The UN report ( ) and the US report ( ) both explained the increasing threat and present day effects of climate change due to human activities, mainly burning carbon fuels. Then there were the reports of the West Antarctic glaciers breaking up and are starting to send ground based ice melt into the oceans. The total meltdown will take between 200 and 1000 years but looks pretty much inevitable. ( And then April came in as equal to the hottest April on record. “ The last time April had below-average temperatures was in 1976 and the last time any month had below-average temperatures was February 1985.”  ( Not to be left out are the Himalayas. “The report, from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICMOD), found that Nepal’s glaciers lost 24 percent of their volume between 1977 and 2010.” ( )

That is a lot of climate science and would seem to make deniability a harder hand to play, if one takes science seriously, and that is not a given. ( ) .

There are many unusual sources that confirm the climate concern. The military sees climate change as a threat to national and global security and is taking measures. A report by CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board “predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases.” Insurance companies are starting to take notice as well. “Filed by Farmers Insurance Co. on behalf of itself, other insurance companies and customers whose property was damaged by the surge of storm water and sewage overflow, the lawsuits allege the governments of Chicago-area municipalities knew their drainage systems were inadequate and failed to take reasonable action to prevent flooding of insured properties.” “During the past 40 years, climate change in Cook County has caused rains to be of greater volume, greater intensity and greater duration than pre-1970 rainfall history evidenced,” ( ) And “Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,” Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America, told me last week. “It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.” ( ) On top of these is Standard and Poors pointing out the financial risk to lenders. “According to a new report by the agency, titled ‘Climate Change Is A Global Mega-Trend For Sovereign Risk’, climate change will join ageing populations to put downward pressure on sovereign ratings.”

OK OK so enough of the gloom and doom what is the bright side? There is more bright side than can even be touched on although on a smaller scale. Buildings are both a part of the problem  and a big part of the solution. Strategies to move to a more efficient and renewable energy system to replace the carbon intense fossil fuel system are now mature. They not only envision a future but also lay out a clear path. Architecture 2030, and Rocky Mountain Institute are two of the best known organizations working on these long range scenarios.



There is a constant barrage of technology breakthroughs from Smart Grid improvements to cheaper more efficient and more environmentally friendly energy storage possibilities. As the Grid gets smarter it can deal with the intermittent production of energy as well as it does the intermittent use of energy. Smarter means more stable and environmentally attuned.   /

Getting to Zero in our buildings’ energy balance is a big piece of the puzzle. We know how to do it and it is getting more affordable. Combining well-known efficiency upgrades with renewable energy generation and storage is available now. Honda has an interesting Zero energy test house that incorporates renewable generation for both the house and a car.


If you are not linked out by now here are a few more on some tech breakthroughs that seem like they could be disruptive.

Carbon batteries

Flow batteries

Tesla mega battery factory

Boone Guyton