What Comes After the “Green” Building?

The era of efficient “green” buildings is over. What will take its place?

In mid-June, NYRA hosted a panel discussion at the offices of Snøhetta on Pine Street, prompted by the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Assessment Report 6. Spearheaded by historian Daniel A. Barber and featuring reflections from designer/educator Elisa Iturbe and researcher Elise Misao Hunchuck, the Mitigation event centered on a very specific section of the Technical Summary of the AR6 Working Group on Mitigation, “TS 4.5-E.” An edited excerpt of the conversation is reproduced here.

DANIEL BARBER: To start, I want to draw out a distinction that’s made in the language used by the IPCC between efficiency and sufficiency. Many, but not all, contemporary buildings work much more efficiently than their older counterparts. But the energy-saving innovations that go into these buildings—perfectly tuned glass panels, solar arrays, induced ventilation—are outpaced by the sheer amount of square footage going up in our cities daily. So in a sense, we’re back at zero. It’s interesting, then, that in AR6, the IPCC proposes a…

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