Green Building Movement | EnVisioneering Exchange ep. 25

Host John Sheff is joined by guests Jenna Cramer and Chris Cieslak of the Green Building Alliance to discuss the Green Building movement. Their conversation covers the GBA’s work to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions in buildings in western Pennsylvania.

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Guest Bio

Jenna Cramer is the Executive Director of the Green Building Alliance (GBA), one of the oldest regional green building organizations in the U.S. She has been with the Pittsburgh-based organization for 13 years and in her role, leads efforts to integrate health and sustainability values and practices into projects, buildings, schools and communities throughout western Pennsylvania.

Chris Cieslak is the VP of Program Strategy and Impact and Senior Director of the 2030 District at the GBA. She brings many years of experience in project management to her current role, in which she works with cross-sector stakeholders to advance the GBA’s goals.

Episode Summary

Host John Sheff is joined by guests Jenna Cramer and Chris Cieslak of the Green Building Alliance to discuss the Green Building movement. Their conversation covers the GBA’s work to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions in buildings in western Pennsylvania.  

Main Points

  • Since the Green Building Alliance’s founding in 1993, Pittsburgh has begun transitioning to a green economy. Large investments were made in healthcare, higher education and technology, with the goal of creating a healthy city.
  • Pittsburgh has become a leader in the green building movement. The city was an early adopter of green building innovation, with 3 of the first 13 LEED-certified projects in the country.
  • Pittsburgh is one of three cities (along with Seattle and Cleveland) with a 2030 District. The goal of the initiative is to recruit property owners to join the District by pledging to reduce energy and water usage by 2030. The District now covers all of western PA and includes 550 buildings.
  • Engagement in the program is easy; property owners need to share their energy and water bills with the GBA. The initial message of lowering costs resonated and encouraged participation.
  • Over time, the GBA has been able to move building owners along the path of becoming more energy efficient. They are encouraged to take advantage of natural opportunities – need for new roof, new HVAC, etc – to upgrade to more efficient building systems.
  • The GBA continues to focus on engagement and outreach, identifying and rewarding early adopters of energy efficient technologies while also pushing the stragglers, with the goal of normalizing healthy and high-performing buildings.
  • In 2017, Pittsburgh adopted a benchmarking ordinance. Buildings over 50,000 SF are required to report how much energy they use to a public dashboard. This allows building owners to see how other buildings are reducing energy usage and reach out to their peers for guidance.
  • The Green Building movement has increased attention on the green building supply chain. With increased demand for green building products, those involved in the movement recognized the need to look at the supply chain holistically in order to improve processes.
  • With so many buildings in the GBA’s 2030 District, the demand for green building products is high. The GBA worked with local manufacturers to encourage them to transform their production to meet demands of the marketplace.
  • The focus on the supply chain has highlighted the need to lower carbon emissions in manufacturing and continue to identify new products.
  • Beginning in 2014, GBA has been working with the University of Pittsburgh to survey its partner buildings about behaviors and interventions put in place to improve indoor air quality (IAQ). Interest in improving IAQ has been increasing.
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in IAQ has grown. Buildings are focusing on bringing in more outside air, increasing ventilation and using high-performance filters.
  • With the need to make building energy use more responsive to the number of occupants, variable-speed heat pumps are likely to become more popular.
  • In 2019, the GBA became the 2nd International Center of Excellence on High-Performance Building, part of the UN’s High-Performance Building Initiative. The goal is to bring together key stakeholders in public and private sectors and ultimately create an international network on best practices for green buildings.

Links

Learn more about the Green Building Alliance and the work they do.

Learn more about LEED certification.

Read about the High Performance Building Initiative.

Listen on SoundCloud

Listen on YouTube

For more information and additional episodes of the EnVisioneering Exchange podcast, visit https://www.danfoss.com/en-us/about-danfoss/insights-for-tomorrow/envisioneering-exchange/

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