Building(s) for the Future
Climate smart buildings in every phase of the process: planning, construction, operation, and the transition to their next life.
Building(s) for the Future
When it comes to "green building," there are many certifications, standards, and goals out there - which makes defining the term quite tricky.
Instead of focusing on any one aspect of the building process over the other, we're approaching buildings holistically and acknowledging that every part of a building's life is important, from the moment it first appears on a blueprint, to its construction and then operation, as well as the transition from operation to its next life after it has served its initial purpose, whether that's a major rehabilitation effort or deconstruction.
That's why we're calling this effort "Building(s) for the Future," because we need to build towards a low-carbon future and have the buildings that help get us there.
This B(s)4F effort is in collaboration with the City of Missoula, Missoula County, and a team of architects, designers, engineers, and non-profit partners who are part of our super valuable Task Force.
In addition to the partners above, we have support for this work via the National League of Cities. Thanks to a proposal we spearheaded, Missoula is one of 8 US communities awarded a Leadership in Community Resilience 2020 grant -- to support Building(s) for the Future. Stay tuned for more.
Buildings & Our Carbon Footprints
In our 2017 emissions inventory, buildings made up 52% of our carbon footprint (based on 2014 data). While change needs to occur across all sectors for us to meet our carbon neutrality goals, our building stock needs particular attention because once buildings are built, much of the building sector emissions are locked in.
Erase40.org does a great job explaining this more - we offer a few highlights below.
Building(s) for the Future offers more than reduced carbon emissions
Energy efficient building is also often healthy building, leading to decreased rates of asthma and other respiratory issues for inhabitants. For example, a recent study by E4TheFuture found 12% fewer asthma ED visits and a 48% decline in poor health among adults in households receiving weatherization services. The study also showed improvements in occupants heath are strongest among vulnerable groups: lower income households and residents with preexisting medical conditions. Check out the full study here.
increased climate resiliency
Summers are becoming warmer with bringing more intense wildfire smoke. Missoula needs to adapt our buildings to enhance insulation and ventilation in anticipation of more extreme wildfire seasons and hot temperatures. Additionally, we can make smart decisions regarding the siting of buildings and the usage of green or white roofs to decrease our reliance on air conditioning.
increased comfort and satisfaction
More efficient buildings lead to more comfortable and satisfied inhabitants. Building(s) for the Future can eliminate rooms that are either too hot or too cold by improving insulation and ventilation to allow for temperatures to remain consistent throughout the building. Furthermore, the services help mitigate or eliminate drafts in the building which can be annoying and uncomfortable.
reduced operating costs (and vulnerability to energy price fluctuations)
More efficient buildings cost less money to operate, and a reduced demand for fossil fuel generated energy leaves building owners less exposed to price volatility.
For more on the relationship between energy efficiency and energy price fluctuation, read this report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy - ACEEE.
What tools can we use to build for the future?
There are many approaches to spur better building, and they fall into three main categories:
Incentives: rely on market forces to correct for producer and consumer behavior; provide motivation for the private sector to incorporate the goal of policy makers
Regulatory: mandate certain levels of performance or the adoption of new technology
Program: voluntary campaigns, educational opportunities, and marketing materials to advance policy objectives
Thankfully, we're not in this alone, and there is much to learn from communities across the country and world that are reducing the carbon emissions associated with their buildings. Sometimes we think of it in terms of a food metaphor - rather than needing to create a brand new dish, there is already a full menu and Missoula needs to decide what we want to order. The tools we choose to build for the future will need to be community decisions where we decide what type of approach we think will work best and what we are willing to do to achieve lower carbon emissions in our building sector.
Below are tiles for possible tools that include a brief definition and explanation of how they would advance better building. Some are market-based incentives, others are regulatory or programmatic/educational opportunities. Beyond the classification of the type of tool, they are sorted by which phase of a building's life it could influence. Some may be applicable to advance better construction techniques while others would incentivize lower carbon emissions in the design phases. Explore below to get to know the tools at our disposal better, and if we're missing something, let us know!
Click on the above table for a table version of the tools that are listed below, with more information on each.