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🏡 Future-proofing against extreme weather
Plus, what progress towards climate legislation in the US Senate could bring to the US and how electric heat pumps can make a dent in global CO2 emissions...
Good morning sustainability geeks!
If you’re just joining us - welcome! Here at Built to Zero, we try to provide a quick rundown of all the latest developments in sustainability within built environment.
This week, we’re looking at how two of the largest cities in North America are looking to prevent climate disasters, some legislation that is gaining momentum in US congress, and a new technology partnership that will help commercial RE owners take a closer look at their carbon footprints.
Today’s newsletter will take ~ 4.5 minutes
Just heating and cooling in residential and office buildings accounts for 6% of global CO2 emissions. Because of the historical dependance on offsite fossil fuels to power heating and cooling units, this significant number can easily be decreased if electric heat pumps are used to replace the old technologies. New heat pumps are between 2.2 and 4.5 times more efficient than than gas furnaces and would consequently cut the total emission of CO2 by 3 gigatons per year. To put that in perspective, in 2019, the entire airline industry produced just 1 gigaton of CO2 (inclusive of passenger & freight) .
Deals & Developments
Toronto is beginning what is sure to become one of the largest urban resilience projects in the world turning its dilapidated Port Lands District into a fresh borough packed with 64 acres of parks, 75 acres of wildlife habitat, and a mixture of affordable and standard housing to accommodate upwards of 20,000 new residents. Currently, over 20 projects are underway on site with over 1.3 million cubic meters of earth moved in order properly design the waterways to prevent flooding and protect Toronto from future extreme weather events.
New York City’s Battery Park City Authority is working on plans for its flooding protection of the park by creating a barrier for lower Manhattan. The first phase of this project is looking to break ground in September with the final phase expected to wrap around 2026. The Authority is looking to prevent any potential of a repeat of Hurricane Sandy, which caused a loss of $19 billion when it struck in 2019.
Other note: Waterline Square, which just finished out in the Upper West Side will be one of the only privately owned public spaces on the island when it opens in 2023. The 2.3 acre green space is surrounded by eateries and other retail.
The partnership is releasing a codeveloped platform that will enable property owners to “peak under the hood” at the carbon footprint of their assets. Similar to a digital twin model, WattCarbon’s proprietary Automated Emissions Models (AEMs) are able to analyze a building’s energy usage and inefficiencies to track the emissions from commercial buildings. CREtelligent provides CRE due diligence screenings and dashboard to streamline the acquisition and disposition processes. The partnership will deliver an easy-to-use dashboard for building owners to analyze their portfolios and generate insights about how they can optimize operations to decrease emissions.
The Build Back Better plan is back, this time under a name the majority can truly get behind: The Inflation Reduction Act. The proposal calls for $369 billion to be allocated towards bolstering climate and clean energy investment with the goal of curbing the country’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced his support yesterday after vocalizing his disagreement with certain stipulations over the past month. The primary climate provisions in the bill include tax breaks for solar, wind, batteries, TVs, heat pumps, and other green technology. The bill also calls for a “National Green Bank,” which would partner with the private sector to make an array of clean energy tech investments as well as energy efficiency improvements. If passed, the bill could be leap forward for President Biden’s climate agenda.
The “Toward Net Zero Homes and Communities Program” will open up government funding to corporations registered in Canada, indigenous communities, local governments, and community and environmental groups. Proponents suggest that under the legislation Canada will be able to better facilitate its “Just Transition” goals to achieve net-zero residential building emissions by 2050.
Fact for Thought
Solar windows are gaining traction… finally conversion number numbers on fully transparent windows have risen to 7% efficiency, about half that of starting level silicon solar panels. Traditionally, only solar windows using perovskite which only has low transmittance (meaning low transparency) have been able to generate meaningful amounts of solar energy. This is exciting for developers looking to minimize dependence on the grid and find new ways for power generation.
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