Building Better Buildings
Here’s something we know we have to fix, and we mostly know how to fix it.
I’m talking about the buildings in which we live and work. They play a big role in heating the planet. In some cities, they’re the biggest single source of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
New laws in a handful of cities, including mine, New York, now compel building owners to reduce those emissions or face fines. The European Union recently enacted a law that requires all buildings to be zero-emissions by the middle of the century.
I wanted to learn more about all this. So I reached out to John E. Fernandez, an architect and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Airtight equals efficiency
Not long ago, I went to see an office building under construction in downtown Boston. On what was once a city-owned parking lot, Millennium Partners Boston, a developer, had erected a 21-story, 800,000-square-foot tower called the Winthrop Center. Fernandez was a consultant on the project.
Its 10-foot, floor-to-ceiling windows were triple-pane, oriented to let in sunlight. The walls had a 4-inch…