The Holy Grail of Decarbonization
We have to rapidly move our utility grids to renewable energy with enhanced resiliency.
In parallel with all-electric, net-zero building retrofits, we also need to transition each of our major electrical grids or independent system operators (ISOs) in the US to renewable power. Not every building can be retrofitted to net-zero energy on site. Buildings in dense urban cores are often overshadowed by neighboring buildings, reducing the effectiveness of solar panels. Energy-intensive building types such as hospitals and laboratories often lack the site area needed for PV panels to offset all their annual energy use. It’s essential for our electrical grid to provide carbon-neutral power. We should still design these complex buildings that can’t be net-zero on site to be all-electric with super-efficient building systems, as they will continue to have lower emissions as the grid goes green.
A low-carbon grid will also support healthier communities, especially for historically marginalized communities that are disproportionately located near high-emissions powerplants and industries. These lower income and marginalized communities also deserve the benefits of healthy, safe, all-electric homes. Exciting work is being done in California through ratepayer-funded research projects focused on developing low-cost, rapidly deployable building-enclosure retrofits for multifamily housing.
SmithGroup is thrilled to be supporting these projects as well as developing the next generation of low-global-warming-potential (GWP) energy pods that will provide world-class efficiency and indoor air-quality to these homes.
The need for more rapid decarbonization of the built environment could not be more pressing. The great news is that we have the technology, and we have the buildings. Now we just need to start running.