What if Old Buildings Are Greener Than New Ones?

Published by Slate: For decades, sustainability in architecture, engineering, and construction has been evaluated based on a building’s energy bill. Assessing “embodied” energy or carbon instead is a new approach that requires counting the emissions that go into every part of the structure, from the gas-powered chainsaws in the forest to the assembly line in the lumber mill to the flatbed trucks that bring materials to the building site.

The hope, says Kim Cheslak, the director of codes at the sustainability-focused New Buildings Institute, is that awareness of embodied carbon will change the way people think about design and construction. “The calculus it changes is, one, planning for longevity of buildings and, two, at the manufacturing level, starting to drive lower carbon manufacturing processes. It’s going to shift the whole market.”

Read More