How to make Minnesota's buildings more climate-friendly


Support for climate cast comes from Bank of America as one of the largest global financial institutions Bank of America is in a unique position to help society. Transition to a low-carbon economy Bank of America NA member FDIC good morning chances are climate change wasn't on a top consideration. When your office was designed and Bill, but architecture that's informed by climate is expanding the sustainable, building twenty thirty energy standard is designed to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of big buildings in Minnesota Richard graves is the director of the university of Minnesota's center for sustainable, building research pro the most important thing for climate-friendly buildings are that they're designed for energy efficiency. You know, we have the technology now to design buildings that are sixty or seventy percent more efficient than they were in two thousand two that seems like a lot of progress in just a dozen years or so, yeah, it's significant progress. I mean if. You had interviewed me back then in two thousand two and did I think we would be at the point where we are right now. I wouldn't have thought that. So you know, we've made significant progress let's face it. The overwhelming majority of our current home and building inventory was not designed and built with net zero carbon and water in mind. How far do we have to go there? Or maybe another way to think about that is how big of an opportunity is there ahead. Well, you know, if you think about a two thirds of the buildings we have now we'll still be here in twenty fifty. So, you know, we're not going to build new buildings and build our way to solve climate change. And we have to get at existing buildings in some way because for two reasons one the more efficient, we make them we saved carbon there. But also, we have all the embodied carbon in those existing buildings that if we can maintain them and renovate them, you save the energy that it would take to build new buildings. So that's probably our most important opportunity to be seen. Using on the next ten to twenty years. What are the costs and the job opportunities for these kind of projects? Whatever the initial capital costs often pay for themselves within four to seven years in the return on energy savings. And you know, the job opportunities are tremendous with people creating construction jobs for these renovation projects creating design jobs here in Minnesota. So if you factor those in it's probably one of the most cost effective climate change strategies that the state could undertake I like to think about where we've been and how far we've come from many different angles on climate change, and it comes back to technology and a lot of ways. I mean, we're doing things so much differently than we were twenty or thirty years ago and a hundred years ago is like another era. What's the future, the sort of futuristic view? How far could we push this technology in the places we work in live to become a truly almost heaven negligible impact on greenhouse? Gases. That's a great point. I, you know, I think a lot of the technologies we need are here. And it's more of a design problem putting them together. But I think emerging areas for new technology are things like more efficient solar technology that's better integrated with the building design also thinking about battery storage and things like that. So that we don't just generate energy, but we can store it when you know, we have a surplus to use it at different times and also to help us with climate resilience as we're going through weather changes and storm disruptions to energy systems in water systems. If we can have these more integrated systems that not only generating capture things, but also store it. So that we can have resilience that's an emerging areas. Well, it's a fascinating thing to think about it. I'm sure the fascinating for you as an area to work in Richard graves, director of the center of sustainable building research at the university of Minnesota's college of design. Thanks so much for your insight today. Thank you. That's climate cast. I'm NPR chief meteorologist, Paul hunter.

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