Dennis Schroeder, NREL

Round-Up of Recent Building Decarb Podcasts

As part of our building decarbonization focus this year, we are closely tracking the rapidly evolving research and technology solutions for driving carbon emissions reductions in the building sector.

This round-up offers an account of some of the best building decarbonization podcasts and webinars we took in since we posted our First Quarter DecarbCast. Separately, we also posted a Mid-Summer DecarbCast that covers non-building sector decarbonization resources worth a listen.

Attacking Carbon Emissions from Residential Buildings

Columbia University’s Dr. Melissa Lott’s podcast The Big Switch offered a great series of worthwhile and accessible (read: under 30-minute) episodes.

She set the stage in June with A Road Map to Net Zero Buildings, in which she interviewed Keith Kinch of BlocPower to discuss what it takes to decarbonize buildings (and not just individual buildings, but also whole cities). They laid out four key steps: 1) Energy efficiency; 2) Replace oil and gas appliances with electric ones; 3) Ensure that the electricity used is clean electricity; and 4) Organize people to support the rules that can make this happen.

A few weeks later, Dr. Lott spoke to self-proclaimed “buildings doctor” Professor Ian Hamilton of University College London on Retrofitting Homes for Net Zero. Together they took us on a room-by-room virtual tour of a home to address energy efficiency and electrification of appliances in our residential buildings, explaining options for insulation, heat pumps, solar panels, and more.

Check out the interview with Andy Frank, co-founder of the climate tech company Sealed, who spoke to Dave Roberts of Volts for another take on performing whole home retrofits in which a “pay-for-performance” method ensures that homeowners only pay for retrofits if there are energy savings.

Ensuring Equitable Building Decarbonization

Dr. Lott also discussed the critical equity considerations of building decarbonization in her conversation with Dr. Diana Hernández, asking Who gets AC in a Heatwave? (unsurprisingly, it’s not the people who need it the most, due to the inequitable access of affordable energy).

Posted in the middle of a record-breaking hot July, Dr. Lott and Dr. Hernández discussed energy insecurity, which is the inability to meet basic household energy needs. Dr. Hernández and her team estimate that one third of households in the United States experience energy insecurity, with low-income, Black, and Latino households disproportionately affected.

Dr. Hernández pointed to energy justice as an approach that can address both energy insecurity and building decarbonization at the same time. She walks through four pillars of energy justice: recognition justice (acknowledging that there is a problem); procedural justice (addressing how and by whom rules are made); distributional justice (tackling burden and exploitation); and finally, restorative justice (viewing the energy transition as an opportunity for communities to increase their health and wellbeing).

Making a Dent in Commercial Building Emissions

With 1-800-DECARBONIZE-MY-BUILDING, Dr. Lott shifted gears from residential to commercial buildings (think schools, offices, restaurants, hospitals, etc.) and explored challenges that exist to reduce commercial building emissions, despite the financial and energy savings building owners would achieve.

Dr. Lott and her guest, Dr. Paul Mathew from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, imagined a building decarbonization hotline that building owners could call to get help untangling every step of the decarbonization process for existing commercial buildings.

In lieu of such a hotline, Dr. Mathew explained an existing solution which he thinks could be further standardized and scaled up—energy-as-a-service (EaaS) providers, who guide building owners through the multiple-stepped retrofit process.

Ways to Accelerate Building Decarbonization

Finally, in her most recent episode, Cookin’ with Electrons, Dr. Lott invited Michael Gerrard from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University to discuss the important role that building codes can play in decarbonizing our buildings.

For a deeper dive into some of the more technical aspects of building decarbonization, the Better Buildings webinar, Low Carbon Technologies: Strategies for Different Building Types, reviewed strategies that use available technology to lower emissions from the building sector. The entire summer webinar series is worth checking out.

Electrify Now also offered several helpful webinars to understand heat pump technology, including Central Heat Pumps; Portable Heat Pumps; and Heat Pump Water Heaters.

List of Podcasts & Webinars Mentioned

Better Buildings Webinar Series (Department of Energy)

The Big Switch (Dr. Melissa Lott)

Electrify Now

Volts podcast (David Roberts)

Ruby Moore-Bloom

Researcher
Ruby joined the Clean Energy Transition Institute in January 2022 as a Researcher. She is committed to working toward a clean energy future in the Northwest.
FULL BIO & OTHER POSTS

Round-Up of Recent Building Decarb Podcasts

As part of our building decarbonization focus this year, we are closely tracking the rapidly evolving research and technology solutions for driving carbon emissions reductions in the building sector.

This round-up offers an account of some of the best building decarbonization podcasts and webinars we took in since we posted our First Quarter DecarbCast. Separately, we also posted a Mid-Summer DecarbCast that covers non-building sector decarbonization resources worth a listen.

Attacking Carbon Emissions from Residential Buildings

Columbia University’s Dr. Melissa Lott’s podcast The Big Switch offered a great series of worthwhile and accessible (read: under 30-minute) episodes.

She set the stage in June with A Road Map to Net Zero Buildings, in which she interviewed Keith Kinch of BlocPower to discuss what it takes to decarbonize buildings (and not just individual buildings, but also whole cities). They laid out four key steps: 1) Energy efficiency; 2) Replace oil and gas appliances with electric ones; 3) Ensure that the electricity used is clean electricity; and 4) Organize people to support the rules that can make this happen.

A few weeks later, Dr. Lott spoke to self-proclaimed “buildings doctor” Professor Ian Hamilton of University College London on Retrofitting Homes for Net Zero. Together they took us on a room-by-room virtual tour of a home to address energy efficiency and electrification of appliances in our residential buildings, explaining options for insulation, heat pumps, solar panels, and more.

Check out the interview with Andy Frank, co-founder of the climate tech company Sealed, who spoke to Dave Roberts of Volts for another take on performing whole home retrofits in which a “pay-for-performance” method ensures that homeowners only pay for retrofits if there are energy savings.

Ensuring Equitable Building Decarbonization

Dr. Lott also discussed the critical equity considerations of building decarbonization in her conversation with Dr. Diana Hernández, asking Who gets AC in a Heatwave? (unsurprisingly, it’s not the people who need it the most, due to the inequitable access of affordable energy).

Posted in the middle of a record-breaking hot July, Dr. Lott and Dr. Hernández discussed energy insecurity, which is the inability to meet basic household energy needs. Dr. Hernández and her team estimate that one third of households in the United States experience energy insecurity, with low-income, Black, and Latino households disproportionately affected.

Dr. Hernández pointed to energy justice as an approach that can address both energy insecurity and building decarbonization at the same time. She walks through four pillars of energy justice: recognition justice (acknowledging that there is a problem); procedural justice (addressing how and by whom rules are made); distributional justice (tackling burden and exploitation); and finally, restorative justice (viewing the energy transition as an opportunity for communities to increase their health and wellbeing).

Making a Dent in Commercial Building Emissions

With 1-800-DECARBONIZE-MY-BUILDING, Dr. Lott shifted gears from residential to commercial buildings (think schools, offices, restaurants, hospitals, etc.) and explored challenges that exist to reduce commercial building emissions, despite the financial and energy savings building owners would achieve.

Dr. Lott and her guest, Dr. Paul Mathew from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, imagined a building decarbonization hotline that building owners could call to get help untangling every step of the decarbonization process for existing commercial buildings.

In lieu of such a hotline, Dr. Mathew explained an existing solution which he thinks could be further standardized and scaled up—energy-as-a-service (EaaS) providers, who guide building owners through the multiple-stepped retrofit process.

Ways to Accelerate Building Decarbonization

Finally, in her most recent episode, Cookin’ with Electrons, Dr. Lott invited Michael Gerrard from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University to discuss the important role that building codes can play in decarbonizing our buildings.

For a deeper dive into some of the more technical aspects of building decarbonization, the Better Buildings webinar, Low Carbon Technologies: Strategies for Different Building Types, reviewed strategies that use available technology to lower emissions from the building sector. The entire summer webinar series is worth checking out.

Electrify Now also offered several helpful webinars to understand heat pump technology, including Central Heat Pumps; Portable Heat Pumps; and Heat Pump Water Heaters.

List of Podcasts & Webinars Mentioned

Better Buildings Webinar Series (Department of Energy)

The Big Switch (Dr. Melissa Lott)

Electrify Now

Volts podcast (David Roberts)

Ruby Moore-Bloom

Researcher
Ruby joined the Clean Energy Transition Institute in January 2022 as a Researcher. She is committed to working toward a clean energy future in the Northwest.
Full Bio & Other Posts

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