The national 2030 Conference kicked off on October 4th in Detroit, Michigan, with a tour of the net-zero energy IBEW Local 58 Building. The first-of-its-kind net zero building in Michigan, located in the city’s oldest neighborhood of Corktown was an inspirational start to the conference. The building, which has 39 geothermal wells and runs exclusively on renewable energy, has seen a near $70,000 decrease in bills each year and stands as a model for green building both in Michigan and around the country.
Through our tours of the city and its avenues, neighborhoods, riverwalk, and historic buildings it became clear that there are lessons to be learned from this city and my fellow 2030 District leaders. Here are a few I’ve highlighted:
While we are all aware that large buildings use more energy and hold more embodied carbon, 2030 districts around the country continue to engage small businesses and community strongholds, providing education about green building, conducting building audits and scavenger hunts, and working closely with the community to build awareness around this area of sustainability. The Detroit 2030 District has done incredible work with local houses of worship and was recently highlighted by the Biden Administration. They’ve proven that meaningful work can be done by engaging both big and small building operations. And to greatly aid in this work, ENERGY STAR has recently launched its single-family residential ENERGY STAR score, a tool that can provide insight to homeowners about their energy use and performance, bringing the residential sector into the conversation about greening the built environment.
A tour of the Huntington Place Convention Center, the largest LEED Gold Operations & Maintenance (O&M) building in Michigan proved two things:
First, sustainable operations & maintenance require planning, scheduling, close monitoring of the use of space, retrofits that accommodate technical needs, and extensive building automation controls. Each room in the building has a stringent sensor – only when scheduled for booking, and when occupied, the motion sensor lights turn on to full brightness. A facility worker or visitor peeking in will only trigger 60% use of light when triggered. Workers also operate under 60% luminosity and have yet to lodge any complaints about the small but mighty change in lighting standards that help the building save money and electricity.
Second, the building’s extensive waste sorting practices have not only diverted plastics, cardboard, and other recyclables away from the waste stream but have provided avenues for green O&M jobs. All facility workers are expected to have knowledge in sustainable operations practices, helping build a green workforce while ensuring that one of the city’s largest buildings maintains its LEED Gold O&M standard.
Building practices and standards won’t change overnight. But the work of the 2030 district is poised to engage our largest and smallest buildings to create a cohesive ecosystem of energy-conscious buildings in cities across the country. This starts with engaging first with building owners, then communities, neighborhoods, and eventually, getting cities to promote building performance policies as a pathway to clean our cities and get us to net zero.
I walked away from this conference inspired to continue the work of Philadelphia’s 2030 District and am hopeful that the voluntary efforts of our participating buildings can be a model for others to begin thinking about how the built environment can play a positive role in the fight against climate change.
If you are a Philadelphia building operator or owner and would like to participate in our 2030 District, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! We will be sharing more info on our plans for the 2030 District at GBU’s upcoming Groundbreaker Awards on November 17th.