Before you think further about solar panels you might look into this incredible resource…




Sustainable architecture refers to buildings designed to limit humanity’s impact on the environment. An eco-friendly approach to modern-day building encompasses every aspect of the planning and construction process, including the choice of building materials; the design and implementation of heating, cooling, plumbing, waste, and ventilation systems; and the integration of the built environment into the natural landscape.

Many of the practices and principles used in sustainable architecture are rooted in ancient building techniques, that were transformed with the rise of modern materials and mass production in the industrial age. The modern consciousness about the need for sustainable architecture can be traced back over 50 years to the anniversary of the first Earth Day, the international environmental movement, and the ensuing legislation that it sparked across the globe.

But the world is now in the midst of a climate change emergency, and many of the environmental laws that were passed in the last 50 years have been rolled back making it even more imperative for designers, architects, builders, and consumers to demand better building practices to help combat the damage caused by one of the most polluting industries on the planet. In the United States, for example, buildings account for 39 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

It is equally incumbent upon municipalities to strengthen their building codes to require more net-zero buildings, both residential and commercial.  As more and more municipalities shift to electricity from fossil fuels to energize their buildings, it will become critical to expand the availability of renewable energy to pump into that electricity.



How solar power works

Solar energy is quickly becoming a more popular and affordable power source for homeowners and businesses. With residential solar energy, you can lower your carbon footprint and see substantial cost savings.

creating safe, healthy & affordable communities through all-electric, Clean energy ​homes & buildings

The Building Decarbonization Coalition unites building industry stakeholders with energy providers, environmental organizations and local governments to power our nation's homes and workspaces with clean energy.

Infographic: Top 10 States for LEED in 2021

The ranking highlights U.S. leaders in sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings. Now in its 12th year, the annual Top 10 States for LEED list is based on the gross square footage of LEED-certified…

Beware of the Red List – Top Materials to Avoid in Your Home

“The Red List” might sound like something from the Cold War. But the Red List has nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with chemistry. The Red List is actually a list of…

Buildings and Climate Change

Buildings Account for 39% of CO2 emissions in the United States The commercial and residential building sector accounts for 39% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States per year, more than any other…

Facts about the Climate Emergency

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide an objective source of scientific information on climate change.

Sustainable Design

Sustainable design seeks to reduce negative impacts on the environment, and the health and comfort of building occupants, thereby improving building performance. The basic objectives of sustainability are to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimize…

Visualizing Our City’s Energy Use

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering and the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation used the City of Pittsburgh to create a model built upon the design, materials and purpose of commercial…

Achieving zero carbon through design and planning

A carbon neutral built environment begins with design and planning. Architecture 2030 is dedicated to empowering this sector to meet the 2030 Challenge targets and achieve a carbon neutral built environment by 2040. Architecture 2030…

The Six Disabled Veteran Housing Los Angeles, CA

The SIX is a 52-unit affordable housing project provides a home, support services and rehabilitation for disabled veterans. It is located in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles. McArthur Park has one of the…

2020 COTE® Top Ten Awards

The 2020 COTE® Top Ten program highlights projects that meet the AIA Committee on the Environment's rigorous criteria for social, economic, and ecological value. The COTE® Top Ten Plus designation denotes projects with exemplary performance…

Stone Edge Farm

Imagine a lush, self-sustaining island that generates clean electricity, grows organic food and wine grapes, re-uses water, and creates fuel for zero emission vehicles.

Global Warming Has Concrete Problem When It Comes to CO2

Concrete is a major contributor to the climate crisis because its production releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and methane are the two greenhouse gas most responsible for global warming.

LEED v4.1 Cities and Communities

A new way forward for resilient, green, inclusive and smart cities, LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities provides cities and communities with a globally consistent way to measure and communicate performance. LEED v4.1 expands…

Green Infrastructure

Integrated Planning for Your Community's Future

California Solar Data Current Through: Q4 2019

California has the largest solar market in the U.S. and has been a longtime champion of solar because of the many economic and environmental benefits it provides, including $57 billion in investment in the state.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) develops and protects the market by increasing the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs, green walls, and other forms of living architecture through education,…

AIA: The 2030 Commitment

The mission of the AIA 2030 Commitment is to support the 2030 Challenge and transform the practice of architecture in a way that is holistic, firm-wide, project based, and data-driven. By prioritizing energy performance, participating firms can…

Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is changing the way we think about how buildings and communities are planned, constructed, maintained and operated. Leaders around the world have made LEED the most widely…

Zero Net Energy Buildings with Zero Net Added Cost

Would you consider making your next home or building project a zero energy project? If the net added cost to you was also zero, would you be more interested? Most people would. It’s possible to…


Roofing giant takes on Tesla to make solar roof shingles more affordable

By Katie Brigham  Photo: GAF Energy   01/04/22  
When Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof in 2016, it was the first that many people had heard of solar shingles. But the idea of a roofing product that can both generate energy and…

These homes are off-grid and climate resilient. They’re also built out of trash.

By Nick Aspinwall  Photo: Ramsay De Give , Washington Post   01/04/22  
Mike Reynolds never worried too much as the world inched closer to doomsday. In the spring of 2020, motorists lined up in their cars outside grocery stores waiting for food as the coronavirus pandemic first…

How We Fully Electrified Our Very Old House

This year, we did the best upgrade ever. We ripped out the fossil fuel innards of our house and put in a high tech, fully-electrified heat pump system.

In Amsterdam, a community of floating homes shows the world how to live alongside nature

By Shira Rubin  Photo: Ilvy Njiokiktjien   12/17/21  
Marjan de Blok readjusts her body weight as she treads across the jetties linking a floating community on the River IJ. Her cheeks and nose are elfin red from the whipping winds. She shouts greetings…

Study Claims Living Walls Can Reduce Heat Loss in Buildings by Over 30%

By Lloyd Alter  Photo: Lloyd Alter   12/09/21  
Living walls were all the rage a decade ago—we showed dozens of them. I was skeptical about their value, noting that "living walls are expensive to buy and expensive to maintain because plants tend to…

There’s Lots to Learn From How They Build in Montreal

By Lloyd Alter  Photo: Maxime Brouillet , V2com   12/09/21  
We have written previously that we don't all have to live in high rises to get dense cities; we should just learn from Montreal. Everybody loves the "plex" housing type that is a great demonstration…

Energy-efficient infrastructure projects hold a key opportunity for contractors

By Dean Zerbe  Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty Images   11/22/21  
The COVID-19 pandemic has showed no mercy in its impact to the construction sector, inducing a storm of high costs and volatility from materials to labor. According to a recent survey by the Associated General…

NYC Could Ban Gas in New Buildings This Year

By Colin Kinniburgh  Photo: Alloy   11/18/21  
Yesterday afternoon, the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection held a marathon hearing on a bill to ban fossil fuels, including natural gas, in new buildings—which could amount to the city’s most significant…

What Does It Take to Build a Disaster-Proof House?

By Candace Jackson  Photo: Jason Henry , New York Times   11/12/21  
When a massive wildfire swept through Paradise, Calif., three years ago this week, it killed 85 people and destroyed more than 13,000 homes. The wood chalet-style cabin where Mike and Jennifer Petersen lived — built…

How ‘Cool Roofs’ Can Help Fight Climate Change

By Christina Poletto  Photo: Hiroko Masuike , The New York Times   11/10/21  
Last summer, New York City endured three heat waves and many days when the temperature climbed above 90 degrees. In some neighborhoods, like the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, which ranks as one…

26 Climate Actions Cities Should Adopt at COP26 for Climate Change Resilience

By Michael Eliason  Photo: Mike Eliason   10/29/21  
Ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) starting this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland, I wanted to put together a list of climate actions I believe cities should be taking to make them…

Intelligent City Builds Prefab, Passive, Mass Timber Housing With Robots

By Lloyd Alter   10/28/21  
Intelligent City describes itself as "leaders in innovative urban housing solutions." The company recently had a splashy opening of their factory with its robots that can slice and dice panels made of cross-laminated timber (CLT).…

Buying a Disaster-Resilient Home

By Gemma Alexander   10/26/21  
When you’re buying a house it’s hard to ignore highly visible elements like paint and appliances, but easy to overlook factors that could affect your own safety. That’s why we have home inspections to check…

Does Our View of Architecture Change When We Talk Carbon, Not Energy?

By Lloyd Alter  Photo: Maxime Brouillet via V2com   10/12/21  
This house looks like the most extraordinary and beautiful updated version of a Case Study House from California in the 1960s. Except it is not in California, it is on the shore of Lac-Brome, Quebec,…

Columbia Pledges That All Future Campus Construction Will Be Fossil Free

By Earth Institute   09/20/21  
As Climate Week NYC begins, the university explores creating a fully electrified campus. The Columbia Climate School is university partner of the weeklong climate showcase. Columbia University announced today that it will no longer install…

World Green Building Council Introduces New Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment

By LIoyd Alter   09/16/21  
According to the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), the construction sector is globally responsible for 35% of energy consumption, 38% of energy-related carbon emissions, and 50% of resource consumption. The WolrdGBC says a bold approach is needed…

Vermont digs in on incentives to boost geothermal heat pumps

By David Thill  Photo: Erin Anderson , NREL   09/01/21  
Vermont this summer launched an initiative to spur a challenging but potentially crucial market in the state’s decarbonization goals: ground-source heat pumps.

Researchers calculated how many lives energy-efficient buildings could save

By Sarah DeWeerdt   08/31/21  
An intensive push to improve energy efficiency in buildings throughout the United States could prevent 1,800 to 3,600 premature deaths every year, according to a new modeling study. What’s more, combining this with efforts to…

It’s time to rethink air conditioning

By Rebecca Leber  Photo: Debrocke , Getty Images   08/26/21  
What if the most American symbol of unsustainable consumption isn’t the automobile, but the air conditioner? In cool indoor spaces, it’s easy to forget that billions of people around the world don’t have cooling —…

Heat pumps could be key to fighting climate change, but how? We answer your burning questions

By Sabrina Shankman  Photo: Ryan Huddle   08/25/21  
Massachusetts has sworn to get 1 million homes and other buildings off fossil fuel by the end of the decade, a target made even more urgent by recent revelations that the climate is in worse…

Inside Clean Energy: Which State Will Be the First to Ban Natural Gas in New Buildings?

By Dan Gearino  Photo: Angela Rowlings   08/19/21  
A new California building code is a leap forward for reducing the use of natural gas, with rules that set a strong preference for electric heating in new construction. That’s the glass-half-full view of the…

California greenlights first-of-its-kind energy code to encourage electrified buildings

By Kavya Balaraman  Photo: Mario Tama via Getty Images   08/12/21  
The California Energy Commission (CEC) on Wednesday adopted energy efficiency standards for newly constructed and renovated buildings that stakeholders say are the country's first statewide building code that strongly incentivizes all-electric construction.  

What Is Sustainable Architecture?

By Kristin Hohenadel  Photo: George Hammerstein , Getty Images   08/11/21  
Sustainable architecture is a general term that refers to buildings designed to limit humanity's impact on the environment.1 An eco-friendly approach to modern-day building encompasses every aspect of the planning and construction process, including the choice…

California Panel Backs Solar Mandate for New Buildings

By Ivan Penn  Photo: Richard Vogel/Associated Press   08/11/21  
California regulators voted Wednesday to require builders to include solar power and battery storage in many new commercial structures as well as high-rise residential projects. It is the latest initiative in the state’s vigorous efforts…

The Fight to Change US Building Codes

By Emma Foehringer Merchant  Photo: Michael Short , Getty Images   08/02/21  
On Sept. 9, 2020, California Energy Commission Chair David Hochschild opened a scheduled meeting with a somber observation. That morning, Bay Area residents woke to darkness, as wildfire smoke blotted out the sun and an…

Towns Trying to Ban Natural Gas Face Resistance in Their Push for All-Electric Homes

By Katherine Blunt  Photo: Lane Turner , Getty Images   07/31/21  
Massachusetts is emerging as a key battleground in the U.S. fight over whether to phase out natural gas for home cooking and heating, with fears of unknown costs and unfamiliar technologies fueling much of the opposition to…

How to cool your home without relying on air conditioning

By Sarah Kaplan  Photo: Michael Parkin , The Washington Post   07/26/21  
As the mercury ticked upward in Portland, Ore., last month, I braced for my apartment to become unbearable.

5 of the Least Wasteful Ways to Build Your Forever Home

By Earth911   07/22/21  
After experiencing the dangerous escalation of climate impacts like drought, wildfire, flooding, and extreme weather, people want to make better and more sustainable choices to reduce their environmental impact. It is no surprise then that…

Austin housing project offers Tesla large-scale test bed to address challenges with energy products

By Jason Plautz   07/21/21  
A planned Austin neighborhood is touting itself as "the nation’s most sustainable residential community," with homes outfitted with solar panels and battery storage from Tesla.

U.S. seeks to speed rooftop solar growth with instant permits

By Nichola Groom  Photo: Lucy Nicholson , Reuters   07/17/21  
 The Biden administration on Thursday will roll out a tool that enables instant local permitting of rooftop solar installations, addressing a major source of industry delays and possibly lowering costs for homeowners, the Energy Department…

Rethinking our roofs, parking lots, and sidewalks could save money and lives

By Angely Mercado  Photo: Vlad Vasnetsov , Pixabay   07/15/21  
A recent heatwave that swept over the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. and Canada challenged infrastructure in areas that aren’t used to such high temperatures. Even with heat advisory warnings from public health officials and efforts to…

DOE to propose first efficiency standards for manufactured homes in almost 25 years

By Robert Walton   07/14/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy is considering new energy efficiency standards for manufactured housing, and plans to release a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNOPR) by Aug. 16 that will be based on the 2021…

The Building Industry Needs to Take Embodied Carbon Seriously, Says New Report

By Lloyd Alter   07/08/21  
Embodied carbon is the carbon emitted during the manufacturing of building materials and the construction process. It's a confusing name, because the carbon is not embodied in the building, but is in the atmosphere already,…

Heat Pumps Are Ready to Have a Moment

By Brian Kahn  Photos: Getty Images   07/07/21  
It took nearly 170 years, but geothermal heat pumps are finally ready to have a moment. The poorly named appliance—they heat and cool buildings—could be the key to ensuring our homes are more comfortable and…

Can Solar Panels Damage Your Roof?

By Emily Rhode  Photo: Don Mason , Getty Images   06/30/21  
Solar panels will not damage your roof if you take the time to consider your particular situation and have a professional install the panels. Knowing the requirements for a roof that can support solar before…

Is it possible to buy a climate-friendly air conditioner? We asked an expert

By Janelle Nanos  Photo: David L. Ryan/Globe Staff   06/20/21  
The heat is rising, you’re feeling sweaty, and you’re contemplating whether it might be time to invest in air conditioning. But if your gut tells you that A/C isn’t the most eco-friendly option, you’re correct.…

This Minneapolis Passivhaus Deals With Temperature Extremes

By Lloyd Alter  Photo: Tim Eian   06/17/21  
One often hears the original Passivhaus concept was designed for a temperate middle European climate where it's never too hot or too cold. That's why Tim Eian's Good Energy Haus in Minneapolis, Minnesota is so…

Are Floating Neighborhoods a Solution for Rising Sea Levels?

By Sarah Lozanova   06/15/21  
As sea-level rise threatens cities throughout the world, some are looking at how humans can adapt. In North Amsterdam, a collaborative team created a floating neighborhood called Schoonschip on a canal. It consists of 46…

Electric heat pumps use much less energy than furnaces, and can cool houses too – here’s how they work

By Robert Brecha   06/14/21  
To help curb climate change, President Biden has set a goal of lowering U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50%-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. Meeting this target will require rapidly converting as many fossil fuel-powered activities…

‘Cool’ roofs, cooler designs as the building industry embraces energy sustainability

By Ben Ikenson   06/08/21  
The southwestern New Mexico town of Columbus, site of a 1916 raid by Pancho Villa, is now home to a border entry center that is powered by the sun and landscaped with recycled concrete “sponges”…

‘Cool’ roofs, cooler designs as the building industry embraces energy sustainability

By Ben Ikenson  Photo: Ramsay de Give , The Washington Post   06/08/21  
The southwestern New Mexico town of Columbus, site of a 1916 raid by Pancho Villa, is now home to a border entry center that is powered by the sun and landscaped with recycled concrete “sponges”…

Tips: How to weatherize your home

By Daisy Simmons  Photo: Brett and Sue Coulstock   06/02/21  
A few simple yet effective weatherization strategies will boost your home’s comfort and efficiency, as well as help you save on energy bills. Here’s how to safeguard your home and your wallet from the weather,…

The social contagion of solar packs a lot of power

By Sarah DeWeerdt   06/01/21  
The strongest predictor of whether a house will have solar panels is the density of solar panels on neighboring properties, according to a new study. The findings suggest that “seeding” solar panels on a few…

Battle Brews Over Banning Natural Gas to Homes

By Katherine Blunt   05/31/21  
A growing fight is unfolding across the U.S. as cities consider phasing out natural gas for home cooking and heating, citing concerns about climate change, and states push back against these bans. Major cities including…

Rooftop solar and home batteries make a clean grid vastly more affordable

By David Roberts  Photo: Getty Images   05/28/21  
Energy nerds love arguing over the value of distributed energy resources (DERs), the rooftop solar panels and customer-owned batteries that are growing more popular by the day. There’s a fight in California right now over…

Go green on new housing

By Dana Bourland   05/26/21  
Two of the biggest problems we face today — a shortage of decent, affordable housing and climate change — are connected. Fortunately, the solutions are connected as well. That’s why we must not only “build…

This Apartment Building in Vienna Is a Highrise of Huts

By Lloyd Alter  Photo: David Schreyer   05/25/21  
Many people in Germany and Austria have Schrebergartens, similar to allotment gardens with garden sheds. They are a place to get away from the city. A German Girl in America describes it as a place…

The cooling economy of F-gases and HVAC

By Kimberly Zou and Sophie Purdom   05/14/21  
It’s just about that time of the year (in NYC, at least) when that special type of condensation starts falling from millions of overworked AC window units. As we performed electrician acrobatics reinstalling our own…

DuPont Introduces HFC-Free Spray Foam Insulation

By Lloyd Alter  Photo: Banks Photos/ Getty Images   05/13/21  
DuPont introduced a new version of its spray polyurethane foam insulation that is HFC-free. This is a big step for the climate and a big step in building. There are two major sources of greenhouse…

Electrification, not efficiency, should be climate policy focus for buildings

By Michael Barnard   05/09/21  
For well over a year, I’ve been pulling on a specific thread of CO2e emissions reductions related to existing building stock. Back in September of 2019, I did an assessment of efficiency vs electrification gains…