Building Museum Launches Climate Program


Late last year, The National Building Museum announced the launch of a new program series focused on three essential aspects of addressing climate change in the industry.

The program series, Climate ABC, officially launched on Nov. 16, 2021, where the Museum presented the signature series’ inaugural public program, “Reinventing Cities,” presented in partnership with C40 Cities—a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.

In addition to the signature public program, Climate ABC also offers several other programs designed both to educate the public about climate action and to drive substantive solutions in the building industries to mitigate climate change.

According to the Museum, the built environment is responsible for nearly 40% of carbon emissions worldwide and is a primary driver of global warming.

To mitigate the issues, the program focuses on the following aspects (ABC):

  • Actions by individuals, businesses, nonprofits, policy makers and civic entities;
  • Examples of Building, both physical structures and landscapes, as well as coalitions of stakeholders; and
  • Communities at every scale that are working to reduce carbon emissions.

“The program goal is to promote a spectrum of solutions to support environmentally safe, healthy and resilient residential neighborhoods and business districts across the country and around the world,” wrote the Museum in a press release. “With Climate ABC, the Museum seeks to raise awareness about how the built environment impacts the quality of our lives and communities, and how rapidly evolving industry practices can contribute to a sustainable future.”

Climate ABC also plans to highlight innovative new technologies and best practices from around the world currently being implemented by communities, governments, nonprofits and businesses to accelerate climate solutions. In addition, the program will also pair smaller Roundtable forums designed for more targeted B2B discussions and problem-solving for key topics such as urban regeneration, adaptive reuse, decarbonized development and rainwater recapture.

Ultimately, the combined program and roundtables aim to serve as an incubator to guide policymaking, sustainable development standards and community action.

“The National Building Museum’s mission is to educate and engage people about the built environment and its impact on lives and communities,” stated Aileen Fuchs, the Museum’s President and Executive Director. “The Museum, with its deep network and reputation in the building industries, is in a unique position to convene international thought-leaders and host critical conversations that inspired Climate ABC. We hope to connect the public with this ground-breaking new initiative and to challenge our industry constituents to engage and collaboratively problem solve.”

Climate ABC is supported by global leader in building materials and solutions, Holcim, Ltd., which is a part of the company’s broader research and development efforts to introduce and promote high-quality and sustainable building materials and solutions to its customers worldwide.

“Holcim is pleased to join the National Building Museum as the Lead Sponsor of Climate ABC,” said Josep Maset, VP Strategy and Commercial Excellence, Holcim in the U.S. “We believe this series will provide an effective platform to educate the public and raise awareness about the importance and urgency to combat climate change. The format also offers a working forum to develop and share specific and actionable solutions to reduce carbon emissions and build in a sustainable way.”

U.S. Commitment to Climate

Shortly after his inauguration in 2021, President Joe Biden issued a statement announcing the United States recommitment to the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on Dec. 12, 2015. Biden accepted the Agreement, including every article and clause thereof, on behalf of the nation.

More recently, in October and November, nearly 200 countries met at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties to develop plans to meet emissions goals and accelerate action on climate by 2030.

The COP26 was held from Oct. 31-Nov. 13 in Glasgow, Scotland, with leaders planning to discuss goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Breakthrough Agenda was launched at COP26, a commitment to work together to develop and implement clean technologies that are “essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals.” The breakthroughs focus on the power, road transport, steel and hydrogen industries:

  • Clean power is the most affordable and reliable option for all countries to meet their power needs efficiently by 2030;
  • Zero emission vehicles are the new normal and accessible, affordable and sustainable in all regions by 2030;
  • Near-zero emission steel is the preferred choice in global markets, with efficient use and near-zero emission steel production established and growing in every region by 2030; and
  • Affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030.

At the time, leaders also announced the Glasgow Climate Pact, which recognizes the urgent need to address climate change and strengthen climate action, acknowledges the impacts of the pandemic and notes the importance of all ecosystems and the role of communities in response to climate change. The document outlines key points in:

  • Science and urgency;
  • Adaptation finance;
  • Mitigation;
  • Finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for mitigation and adaptation;
  • Loss and damage;
  • Implementation; and
  • Collaboration.

Shortly after the COP26 took place, President Biden announced plans to sign into law the largest federal investment in infrastructure in more than a decade. Joined by several members of Congress, the $1.2 trillion legislation is expected to repair more than just roads and bridges.

As potential effects of climate change woe the world, the legislation has recognized that nearly 75% of the nation’s electricity can be accounted for in both its residential and commercial structures, such as housing, stores and offices.

To mitigate the high usage, the Build Better Plan dedicated roughly $5 billion to various programs aimed at reducing electricity use in buildings, improving building materials and training on design, construction and maintenance for energy-efficient structures. The bill also plans to fund a series of problem-solving programs, for issues varying from drafty windows in affordable housing complexes to aged air ducts and outdated building codes.

According to reports, the largest chunk of the $5 billion will be utilized for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aids structures owned or occupied by people with low incomes. The legislation is expected to provide a $3.5 billion infusion for the program, which will be used to fund upgrades such as insulation, windows, roofing, and heating and cooling devices.

Though seemingly minor, the upgrades are expected to result in sizable energy savings.

This portion of funding was previously advocated by The American Institute of Architects in August, when the bill was being debated in Congress. 

Another program receiving a sizable amount of funding from the bill is the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Expected to receive $50 million, the program is a funding tool commonly used by local governments to issue grants for energy retrofits.

Similarly, the bill will also set aside $500 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements specifically at public schools, another provision outlined by the AIA.

Although the infrastructure bill will be aiding some preexisting programs, there are several new programs being created because of the approved funding. To help understaffed and underfunded local governments upgrade their building codes, the legislation has allotted $225 million in a new program that will work to help get codes updated to the most recent energy-efficiency standards. Related to this program’s goals, another new program will receive $10 million to provide funding to higher-education institutions to establish centers where students can learn how to assess and maintain energy efficiency in buildings. Finally, a $50 million program will support the use of energy-efficient construction materials in buildings used by nonprofits.

The new programs are expected to help improve the resiliency of low-income organizations while also spurring research into low-carbon building materials.


Tagged categories: Building materials; Building operations; Carbon dioxide; Good Technical Practice; Government; Green building; Green design; Greenhouse gas; Museums; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Recycled building materials

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