As part of President Biden’s campaign commitment to “Build Back Better” in the wake of COVID-19, part of that promise includes undoing the social upheaval and lax regulatory environmental standards of the previous administration. A growing group of architecture, engineering, and construction firms are calling on Biden to also build back greener. He can do this, they say, by adding sustainable building strategies to his climate agenda and environmental justice plans. President Biden's actions can address the building sector’s outsized impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and social equity—and its vulnerability to climate change.
Below are some of the suggestions:
Enhance federal building standards—Includes a return to Obama-era requirements for high performance along with new initiatives aimed at decarbonizing the federal building stock, like a base building code for all federal buildings, which are not subject to local codes.
Stimulate building reuse and upgrades—Calls for tax code reforms and other means of promoting reuse and retrofits.
Promote healthy housing and resilient communities—Suggests national guidelines for healthy housing, along with better resilience tools like higher-quality flood maps.
Electrify to achieve a carbon-free grid—Highlights opportunities like model net-carbon building codes and model electricity rates that incentivize grid harmonization.
Promote material health and product transparency—Addresses toxic cleaning products and building materials, along with embodied carbon.
Promote healthy schools for all—Includes the idea of an Office of Healthy, High Performance, and Resilient Facilities within the Department of Education.