Climate & Buildings: Where's Your Cutting Edge?

Globally, nearly 20% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions comes from buildings, while In the US, nearly 40% of CO2 emissions comes from buildings. Since the climate clock is ticking ever more loudly we urgently need to know…

What already field-tested innovations have shown their mettle in terms of solving climate problems, while also being affordable globally?

I’m a fan of a number of such cutting-edge innovations, two of which in the residential sector include

  1. Energy-Plus houses in Germany (pictured above) that are so energy efficient that they generate monthly rebate checks for residents from the local utility that buys the surplus electricity that's generated; and
  2. Earthship homes that are off the grid and
  • use primarily recycled (e.g., used tires) and natural materials (e.g., dirt);
  • incorporate passive thermal heating and cooling;
  • get power from the sun and wind;
  • harvest and use rain water;
  • enable growing food inside; and
  • have self-contained sewage treatment.

Earthship homes started in the southwest of the US and have been built in six continents and in many different conditions.

What have you spotted that’s worth a closer look?


Kumar Venkat's picture

It would be great to combine

It would be great to combine these types of building innovations with community design that can mitigate the urban heat island effect in the summer (which can increase local temperatures by several

degrees) and reduce peak summertime energy demand.

Dave Damm-Luhr's picture
Rick Shankman's picture

Lost in Transformation | The

Lost in Transformation | The Ahmad Tehrani Symposium

In order to get to a carbon neutral building stock – which is e.g. required by the EU Carbon roadmap by 2050  – our efforts need to be smart and holistic on all scales of design.  At the same time it is essential that a transformation process provide great environmental qualities – indoor as well as outdoor (public realm).  This requires mitigation and adaptation strategies, which can only be accomplished by transforming the design process: “Form Follows Process”


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