In today’s news, we will look into the ordinary folks who are helping the environment by greening their homes. Installing new low-carbon appliances, updating existing ones, or switching out older ones is becoming an increasingly popular trend. Meanwhile, Energy X has successfully raised $20 million at a valuation of $120 million in order to reduce emissions from the building sector. Moreover, decades of highway construction have resulted in the destruction of local communities. In order to construct the interstate highway system, thousands of homes, businesses, and entire communities were razed to the ground. Losses still have an effect on the situation. On top of that, in Sacramento, Governor Newsom has announced that three state sites have been identified as potential locations for affordable transit-oriented housing.
Homeowners going green
Original Source: The everyday people making their homes climate-friendly
A rising trend involves installing, renovating, or replacing appliances to produce low-carbon homes.
Kristi Marsh walks through her vacant Maine house with her green building architect Emily Mottram. A thermal scanner helps them find drafts. This house uses renewable energy—solar, in this case—and energy efficiency to consume only as much energy as it generates. Marsh says building a home with such lofty aims is part of the fun. She’s no energy specialist. She’s never built. She wants to show that ordinary people like her can create a climate-friendly home economically and easily.
She met Mottram, who also promotes energy conservation, that way. Mottram runs an energy efficiency podcast and teaches building science and sustainable design at a community college.
“When you construct new, people can minimize their carbon effect from day one,” Mottram explains. “They’ve decreased that home’s operational energy over the next hundred years and numerous owners.”
“In general, the use of energy in residential buildings ends up being one of the biggest uses of energy on a national level,” says Greg Hoffart, founder of Tree Construction in Revelstoke, British Columbia, which builds eco-friendly homes using cutting-edge technology. Household energy usage accounts for about two-thirds of world emissions. So it’s no surprise that a 2020 analysis that screened nearly 7,000 studies globally found that adopting renewable energy for power, renovating, and replacing energy-guzzling gadgets are some of the best ways to prevent climate change.
Marsh downsized as her children left for college. She wanted her new home to be environmentally and financially sustainable—she didn’t want to spend her life paying for electricity and gas. As climate change intensifies storms in the northeast U.S., which is already known for its hurricane season, durability. “A lot of the choices I made weren’t for Kristi of the next two years, but for how I imagine the world will be 10 years from now,” she adds.
Marsh’s home uses new and old circular economy elements. Double-stud walls with tightly packed recycled newspaper cellulose insulation limit heat loss better than single-stud walls. Marsh installed ductless mini-split heat pumps, which transfer heat instead of generating it and use 60% less energy than electric radiators, for heating and cooling. In the U.S., 21% of household emissions come from equipment, so Mottram helped her choose an induction stove, which uses three times less energy than gas cooktops.
“We need energy,” adds Mottram. We should spend wisely if we consume. If you can afford it, get an energy-efficient appliance.”
That extends to home offices and kitchen appliances. Epson’s Heat-Free Technology inkjet printers consume less energy than laser printers. Newer ENERGY STAR-certified TVs use less electricity, and replacing outdated computers with new ones might avoid greenhouse gas emissions “equal to more than those created by 2.7 million cars.”
Simply modifying how we use our household appliances can minimize energy use. Refrigerators use 6,240 watts a day, but not overcrowding them and keeping the most-used goods in reach will reduce that number. Air-drying clothes reduces the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds per year and saves 13% of a home’s electricity.
“Even a one percent improvement in household energy use year over year, which is a large percentage of total energy consumption, is enough to tip the scales in favor of combating the greenhouse effect,” Hoffart says. He concedes, “but change really has to start with one.”
Marsh wants to rent some of her net-zero house. She wants to lead by example and let people into the finished result. “That guests will experience it excites me. Not only read about it, but feel the normalcy of these things and realize: this can be done.”
Energy X raises $20M at $120M valuation for construction sector emissions reduction
Original Source: Energy X secures $20M at $120M valuation to slash building sector emissions
Countries worldwide aim to minimize energy use and obtain net-zero energy by 2050. They must discover creative ways to decarbonize filthy industries like the building sector to get there. Net-zero energy buildings (nZEBs) and zero-emission buildings (ZEBs) are examples of legislation and acronyms that aim to clean up the built environment (ZEBs).
In January 2030, all new EU buildings will need ZEBs. By 2030, the Department of Energy will remodel new government buildings above 5,000 square feet. South Korea is renovating buildings and tightening ZEB criteria for new structures until 2030 to reduce building emissions.
Air, water, and noise pollution comes from buildings. The built environment—including materials manufacturing, building, heating and electricity, maintenance, and demolition—emits 40% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Energy X, a Seoul-based firm and marketplace, “enables the construction of zero-energy buildings” from design to completion.
Co-CEOs Sean Park and Tom Hong created Energy X in 2019. The pair left their initial firm, Xquare, a sustainable architecture financing platform.
Park told TechCrunch that Hyundai, Naver, and Lotte, among other South Korean businesses, use the company to adapt their buildings. Owners, builders, and architects use Energy X.
Since 2019, the business has closed 573 deals totaling 1.6 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in sustainable design construction costs, including zero-energy and LEED-certified buildings. Park said some improvements are ongoing and others are finished.
Many building markets exist. Procore, a construction tech unicorn, went public in 2021, and Oracle bought Aconex, an Australian construction platform, for $1.2 billion in 2017. Park noted that Energy X’s energy-efficiency tech peers include Enpal, which raised a $174 million Series C at a $1.1 billion valuation in 2021, and Uplight, which received undisclosed funding at a $1.5 billion valuation.
Energy X works on solar and energy-saving tech including BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics), HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and BEMS (building energy management systems), Park said. Park said about half of Energy X’s R&D staff works on energy innovations.
Park added that while building energy management systems (BEMS) are software-based, most building owners don’t know how to use them. In addition to the marketplace, “Energy X delivers cloud-based BEMS where our AI controls, maintains and optimizes the system at all times without constantly having to monitor, manage or control directly,” added Park.
Park told TechCrunch the Seoul-based business raised $20.3 million in Series B funding at $120 million.
Shinhan Financial Group led the $31.5 million round. Park said the investment will help Energy X expand its marketplace and energy efficiency tech, grow from 86 to 200 workers this year, and launch in Japan. Park said the business will create a Japan office in February.
Highway Construction for Decades and a Destroyed Communities
Original Source: Decades of Highway Construction and Community Destruction
The interstate highway system was built by demolishing thousands of houses, businesses, and neighborhoods. Losses still have an impact.
After the Federal-Aid Highway Act was passed in 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the interstate highway system “vital to the national interest.”
Over the next 20 years, over 40,000 miles of roads connected nearly every state capital and city with more than 50,000 residents. The act funded states to build through major urban centers to reduce traffic and improve suburban access to downtown jobs and commerce. America’s roadways united a nation of mostly isolated regions and spaces, allowing citizens to improve their economic situation and travel more readily.
The nation’s pursuit of cross-country connectedness both promises and hazards for Americans of color. The Negro Motorist Green Book, commonly known as the “Green Book,” was created in 1936 to identify “Sundown towns” (places where people of color were both de facto and legally prohibited from entering) in much of the country, especially in the South.
The highway system’s architecture and conceptualization are the biggest obstacles to transportation and community fairness. The mid-20th century’s highway and bridge development had a disproportionate impact on poorer communities, especially those with largely Black, Latino, and non-white immigrant populations.
“Federal Bulldozers,” “Urban Renewal,” and “Slum-Clearance”
Before starting a development project that harmed them, affected communities were rarely contacted.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration’s Public Roads magazine described cities as “occupied by the humblest residents, they edge the business center and form the city’s slums – a blight near its very core!” The automotive boom and “urban redevelopment” promised “slum-clearance” benefits of highway construction.
In 1944’s BPR report Interregional Highways, the government promised to “facilitate the transition financing of the rehabilitation of blighted areas, to employ its powers of eminent domain in the public interest, and to fix the standards of redevelopment…. for adjacent housing, airport, park, or other public developments which the highways will be designed to serve in part.”
According to the magazine, “public authorities, planners, and engineers did not address how displaced families and companies would move on with their lives.”
Eminent domain victims got little compensation. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy presented legislation “to authorize payments not to exceed $200 in the case of individuals and families and $3,000 in the case of business concerns or nonprofit organizations displaced as a result of property acquisitions under these programs.”
$200 in 1962 equals $1,859 in 2022, according to Savings.org. During those six decades, $3,000 became $27,880.
Those who couldn’t leave had to find accommodation and work in their areas.
The development of high-speed, multilane highways removed communities from economically prospering places, reinforcing segregation and “redlining” minority neighborhoods as unsuitable for house mortgage finance. Arts, education, and faith-based institutions lost societal coherence. Environmental pollution caused intergenerational health concerns.
The Housing Act of 1949 “financed large-scale sweeps of ‘blighted’ metropolitan areas,” according to historian Robert Fishman in “The American Metropolis at Century’s End: Past and Future Influences,” a 2000 Fannie Mae Foundation paper.
“These regions were subsequently frequently rebuilt as high-rise structures situated in massive superblocks,” he adds. The “government bulldozer” razed numerous close-knit neighborhoods during urban renewal, which helped clean up cities. The superblocks sometimes lacked the bustling streetlife of older areas, and the high-rise buildings were particularly unsuitable for poor families living in public housing.“
According to Freeman, “Many municipal redevelopment agencies utilized ‘urban renewal’ as ‘Negro removal’ wiping out African-American neighborhoods near to downtown and concentrating public housing in hypersegregated ghettos.”
The Emergency Coalition on the Transportation Crisis, a multicultural group of Washington, D.C. residents, opposed “white men’s roads through black men’s bedrooms” while “government bulldozers” cleared communities for motorways.
In April 2021, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg officially affirmed what urban planners, sociologists, and many local leaders have known for years.
TheGrio, a digital media network covering Black news and culture, quoted him as saying, “There is racism physically built into some of our motorways, and that’s why the ‘jobs plan’ has specifically committed to reconnect some of the areas that were divided.”
Buttigieg used urban designer Robert Moses, who started in the 1920s and managed the design and building of motorways, bridges, parks, and housing projects in New York City and many nearby counties, as an example. Moses’ projects displaced 250,000 Black and Latino people and channeled polluted traffic through their areas.
Moses demolished slums by laying highways through them. New York City Slum Clearance Committee chairman was one of his many roles. The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Moses, and Straight Line Crazy, starring Ralph Fiennes, keep Moses’s legacy alive.
Race influenced road construction before the 1956 highway legislation and local leaders’ “urban regeneration” schemes.
The Federal Housing Administration (formed in 1934 and a precursor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), according to Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, actively promoted segregation. The FHA declared in its obscure Underwriting Manual that “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same areas.” The guidebook recommends dividing white and Black neighborhoods with motorways.
Anthony Foxx, the second secretary of Transportation under President Barack Obama, grew up in a Black community surrounded by two interstate highways.
Foxx told NPR in 2016 that he didn’t know. I didn’t think of it as economic or psychological hurdles, but they were, and the choices of where that infrastructure was located in my town weren’t unique to Charlotte.
Communities with highways share pedestrian dangers. According to Smart Growth America’s 2022 “Dangerous by Design” report, pedestrian deaths in the U.S. are disproportionately high for people of race.
Page 33 notes, “Although people of all ages, races, income levels, and abilities are affected by harmful roadway design, particular populations bear the brunt of the burden.” People of color, low-income citizens, and older adults are substantially more likely to die while walking, and those who intersect these identities are even more vulnerable. Structural racism has prioritized travel to and from affluent, whiter neighborhoods, forced displacement, disinvestment or neglect, building new rather than repairing, and spending a bigger share of transportation dollars elsewhere. The upshot has been a higher share of poorly built streets that lack even the most basic pedestrian safety measures like crosswalks, signals, and refuges, and are often divided by wide, high-speed roadways that cause life-threatening confrontations for pedestrians.”
The Biden administration, especially the Department of Transportation, has prioritized repairing and improving the nation’s transportation and community infrastructure while also addressing the federal highway system’s impact on communities that were stunted or destroyed.
The Reconnecting Areas Pilot Program, part of the 117th Congress’s infrastructure and employment measure signed by Biden, allocates $1 billion to highway-burdened communities. Remediation is already underway in roughly two dozen places, including Denver, Colorado, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Long Beach, California, Detroit, Michigan, and Rochester, New York. Rochester locals were interviewed for “Before the Highway.”
The Federal-Aid Highway Act is approaching its 70th anniversary, and fewer people are living “before the highway.” Follow the links below to hear from seven residents, ranging in age from 58 to 80-plus, who remember what happened and know what their families and towns lost.
Three State Sites for Affordable Transit-Oriented Housing in Sacramento Announced by Governor Newsom
Original Source: Governor Newsom Announces Three State Sites Identified for Affordable Transit-Oriented Housing in Sacramento
State-owned excess land includes Capitol Mall’s 700,000 square feet.
Governor Gavin Newsom stated today that the California Departments of Homes and Community Development (HCD) and General Services (DGS) are seeking qualified developers to turn state-owned facilities into housing. Three Capitol Mall state office buildings in downtown Sacramento will be used for housing under Governor Newsom’s 2019 Excess State Land Executive Order (N-06-19).
HCD and DGS released a Request for Qualifications today to redevelop the EDD headquarters at 800 Capitol Mall, the EDD Solar Building at 751 N Street, and the State Personnel Board Building at 801 Capitol Mall.
“In California, we are taking every opportunity and employing every instrument available to create more housing, quicker – even assessing our own inventory of spare land to transform state property into homes,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Our excess land policy is part of a multipronged approach to the housing problem in California, which includes increased accountability, expediting the building process, and providing incentives and unprecedented resources to communities eager to step-up and achieve their housing commitments.”
Over the next eight years, California must plan for 2.5 million homes, one million of which must serve low-income residents. Sustainable, innovative, and affordable housing can be produced by converting state properties to housing. The Governor’s Executive Order has led to 16 public-private partnerships between the state, affordable housing developers, and local communities and a pipeline of over 5,000 additional rental units.
“California continues to seize every opportunity to make more state-owned sites available for affordable housing, making it faster and cheaper to increase supply near jobs, transit, and other necessities that help California families increase quality of life and get us closer to the goal of over one million affordable homes by 2030,” HCD Director Gustavo Velasquez said.
In 2025, Sacramento’s three state office buildings’ tenants will move. The Blue and Green Sacramento Regional Transit light rail line lands will be available for transit-oriented affordable housing development once vacated.
“In fall 2020, with the state workforce mostly shifted to emergency telework, the Department of General Services had the foresight to evaluate the adaptive reuse potential of these facilities. “With the state’s hybrid work implementation, that foresight has paid rewards with this solicitation,” said DGS Director Ana Lasso. “We believe these initiatives will succeed, leading the way to infuse new life into state office buildings and Sacramento downtown in particular.”
A 2020 DGS analysis of the EDD headquarters revealed that adaptive reuse—modernizing and turning the office buildings into housing—could yield roughly 400 climate-smart one-, two-, and three-bedroom houses for low-income residents.
“The scale and location of these three Capitol Mall buildings provide us the potential to construct a transit-friendly community with hundreds of new housing units – a project that will expedite the transformation of our downtown away from office workers,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. We will collaborate with the state, our development partners, and Capitol Mall’s community to improve our city’s entrance.
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty called this fantastic for downtown. “Converting EDD structures into affordable homes will help repopulate the neighborhood. Start here. I hope additional buildings become residences and revitalize downtown Sacramento.”
HCD and DGS are interested in statements of qualification for adaptive reuse of the Capitol Mall office buildings, but they will consider alternative development visions if they better meet the Executive Order’s principles of affordability, construction cost efficiency, innovation, sustainability, and racial equity.
HCD and DGS-selected developers would obtain a long-term state ground lease to build, own, and maintain housing under state monitoring. The order requires the two agencies to prioritize state-owned excess sites for sustainable, innovative, and affordable housing.
Summary of today’s construction news
Overall, we discussed people greening their homes to lessen their environmental effect. Emily Mottram tours Kristi Marsh’s unoccupied Maine home. This solar-powered home is self-sufficient. Marsh says creating a home with lofty objectives is exciting.
Meanwhile, Energy X raises $20M at $120M to minimize building emissions. Most nations want net-zero energy use by 2050. They need new ways to decarbonize polluting industries like construction to get there. To clean up the built environment, “net-zero energy buildings’ ‘ (nZEBs) and “zero-emission buildings’ ‘ (ZEBs) have been legislated (ZEBs).
Furthermore, after the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared interstate roads “vital to the national interest”. The Interstate Highway System destroyed innumerable houses, stores, and communities, and the repercussions are being felt today.
Over and above that, Governor Gavin Newsom stated today that Housing and Community Development (HCD) and General Services (DGS) in California are seeking qualified developers to convert state-owned structures into affordable housing. Governor Newsom’s 2019 Excess State Land Executive Order would convert three state office buildings on Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento into apartments.