Bill Gates’ Path to Zero Carbon by 2050

Bill Gates’ Path to Zero Carbon by 2050

*adapted from a Zero Energy Project article by Joe Emerson

 

In his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates identifies the need for the world to get to Zero Carbon by 2050 and the consequences to the global population if we do not. He uses Zero to quantify and provide a tool for measuring the effectiveness of various technologies for getting us there. Currently, the world emits 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year, and we need to get to Zero by 2050. The steps are measurable. The goal is ambitious but achievable. It will not be easy!

THE GREEN PREMIUM

Gates uses the idea of the “green premium” to describe the cost to replace an existing carbon-emitting technology with a zero-carbon technology that performs the same function. The green premium can be low or even negative for many energy conservation measures and some renewable energy sources because these cost less than the current practices. The green premium can be high for other technologies in which the low-carbon alternatives are undeveloped and technically complex. Gates suggests that technologies with a high green premium need significant funding for research and development with the goal of bringing down prices so they can be implemented worldwide before 2050.

THE “EASY” TASKS

Several significant zero-carbon technologies with a low “green premium” are poised for widespread acceptance, such as electric vehicles, solar and wind power, and heat pumps. Gates urges us to electrify everything we can and to move forward with a renewable smart grid. Gates emphasizes that we are not implementing the easier stuff at anywhere near the scale needed. “We should be building out renewables 5 to 10 times faster.”

THE “HARD” TASKS

Gates describes the more challenging technological breakthroughs that we will need to implement to get to zero, including:

  • making zero-carbon cement, steel, and plastics
  • formulating aviation, shipping, and long-haul trucking fuels
  • implementing climate positive agriculture practices
  • building integrated super smart grids
  • handling the intermittency (both daily and seasonal) problem posed by renewable power generation.

For that, he calls for research into improved battery storage, clean hydrogen, and small-scale, safe, inexpensive nuclear power. To get transportation fuels to zero, he advocates for more research and development on clean hydrogen and low-carbon biofuels. And he stresses the need for more research into zero-carbon steel, concrete, and plastics to make them price competitive with existing materials.

GETTING TO ZERO BY 2030 OR 2050?

Gates believes that a 2030 target to reach zero carbon is an unrealistic deadline and that shifting to natural gas to reduce carbon by then is a dead end. We should develop and implement solutions that get us to zero even though it may take more time. While we are doing the crucial research on the hard tasks, we need to go full throttle with implementing the easier ones. To do that, we need to lower the green premium across the board.

LOWERING GREEN PREMIUMS

Gates points out that the price differential between electric vehicles and gas-fueled vehicles will disappear by 2030 due to increased scale of production and ongoing innovation. He indicates that the greater fuel savings and lower maintenance costs of electric cars already brings the green premium very close to zero. This downward curve that is happening with EVs is also happening with solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries, as well as energy-efficient heat pumps and induction stovetops. Lowering the green premium for these technologies could be as simple as creating an aggressive nationwide program of education, marketing, and financial incentives.

ZERO ENERGY HOMES AND BUILDINGS

Here are some suggestions for building professionals to help lower green premiums. These are not specified by Gates, but are in line with what he believes is needed. Over the next 10 years, we can immediately use a wide variety of easy off-the-shelf technologies, such as heat pumps, solar panels, induction stove topselectric vehicle chargers, advanced air sealingsuper insulation, and high-efficiency factory homes. These technologies can best be implemented by constructing all-electric zero energy or zero energy ready homes and buildings, with the goal that all new construction be zero energy by 2030.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR, A COLD BATH, AND A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

Bill Gates’ path to zero is a breath of fresh air because it is based on science and economic realities. At the same time, it feels like a cold shower because the task is complex. He doesn’t greenwash the challenges, but rather, quantifies their complexities, asks the hard questions, and puts a price tag on the solutions. He challenges us to quantify the effectiveness and costs of the various strategies for getting from 51 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year to zero.

His plan for getting to zero carbon by 2050 calls on citizens, consumers, corporations, and governments to take appropriate actions. As a businessman and philanthropist, he stresses the need for zero carbon technologies to become more affordable than current ones, so they will be more accessible worldwide. Bill Gates’ book should be in the hands of every citizen. It is a roadmap we all must follow together.

 

Joe Emerson is an article author at Zero Energy Project.

Newly built home in Seattle goes beyond Net Zero

Newly built home in Seattle goes beyond Net Zero

View in the Showcase of High Performance Homes

*adapted from a Dwell Development LLC article.

SEATTLE, WA (April 2021) – Residential developer, Dwell Development LLC, continues to push the envelope of sustainable design and green construction in the Pacific Northwest with the completion of their Net-Positive Energy and Built Green 5-Star residential building certification programs. 

From design innovation to construction, Dwell takes an integrative approach to building some of the world’s most energy efficient homes. Positive Energy Homes are zero energy homes that are so efficient they produce more energy on an annual basis than they consume, leaving homeowners with extra energy to use in other ways such as powering electronics or even electric cars.  

Positive energy homes represent a whole new level of performance with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability. In order to meet these requirements, the home is equipped with a 14.25kW roof top array of solar panels that produces a Home Energy Rating System Index (HERS) rating of -2. 

“The key to zero and positive energy home building is to properly insulate and seal the home so heat and air are not lost through cracks in the building envelope,” says Anthony Maschmedt, Dwell Development owner.  

Demonstrating Dwell Development’s commitment to new achievements in green building, this is Dwell’s most energy-efficient home to date since completing Seattle’s first Emerald Star home in 2014.  

Dwell Development’s holistic approach to sustainable building helps homeowners conserve resources and cut costs while also setting the bar high for other residential developers. Net-positive homes are the next step for sustainable building, and with Dwell Development leading the way, positive energy homes will become the standard. 

 

About Dwell Development LLC

Dwell Development is founded in the belief that sustainable, efficient design can create a better tomorrow. Dwell has specialized in the design+build of high-performance, modern homes throughout Seattle and the surrounding areas. Each home is built to last, and designed with maximum comfort, urban livability, and health in mind. As leading experts in the field, Dwell Development constantly working towards the advancement and growth of sustainable design practices. Dwell strives towards creating the most energy-efficient homes in the world.

Learn more: www.dwelldevelopment.com

An examination of diversity in sustainable industries after Derek Chauvin’s conviction

An examination of diversity in sustainable industries after Derek Chauvin’s conviction

Last week, former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis. After 11 months of unrest and apprehension following George Floyd’s tragic death, we breathe a sigh of relief as jury member after jury member found Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

For our Minneapolis-based EEBA team, this death and subsequent case hit very close to home. As communities struggle with uncertainty, it has become increasingly important to actively face the lack of diversity in our industry.

There is no question that the conviction of Derek Chauvin brings a sense of justice for all those affected by this case. However, this is only a small step in the right direction.

The case has sparked widespread calls to action to examine the deeply rooted systemic racism in this country, especially those pertaining to Black people.

We must continue looking into how the lack of diversity exists in every industry, and the actions we can take to address these crucial issues.

In the world of sustainability and green building, it is vital that we consider how different communities have disproportionate access to sustainable resources. In many areas, renewable energy sources are virtually nonexistent and sustainable homes are simply unaffordable.

There is no question that there is diversity within the construction sector, but we still have work to do in expanding opportunities for members of marginalized groups to enter the sustainable building and education industries.

Sustainable living is not determined solely by fuel types and building materials, it also requires an equitable distribution of resources.

This is exactly Team zero’s mission. We want to do everything we can to provide the necessary resources to bring more students of color, women, and veterans in transition to join the sustainable building community. Through the EEBA TeamZero NextGen Scholarship Program, we can offer these opportunities to a larger population. We welcome you to support this program by donating here.

We at Team Zero and EEBA are always looking to expand our community and create connections to help further this mission. Please reach out to us with interests, questions, and/or discussions.

Healthy Indoor Air Quality in an All-Electric Family Home

Healthy Indoor Air Quality in an All-Electric Family Home

During the renovation process of their all-electric home, Maureen Mahle and Steve Klocke researched the health impacts of cooking with gas in the house. Some of the common health risks include asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses.  

Maintaining healthy indoor air quality is critical for Maureen and Steve right now because they have a toddler in the house.  

[Babies] breathe so much faster. They take in so much more as a percentage of their body weight than we do. They’re much more impacted by all of those potential pollutants, said Maureen Mahle, Managing Director of Residential Building Services at Steven Winter Associates, Inc. 

The homeowners decided to install an induction cooktop in their all-electric renovated home and are already seeing the benefits.  

My kid likes pasta. The fact that he can pitch a fit and insist on pasta and I can have that pot boiling in 60 seconds is pretty great, said Maureen. 

 

Maureen Mahle and Steve Klocke are Steven Winter Associates, Inc. employees. This is a Steven Winter Associates, Inc. Project. 

Register for EEBA’s webinar with Maureen and Steve to learn more about their all-electric home renovation.  

Check out the EEBA Academy to take accredited courses on healthy IAQ and many more valuable topics! 

Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Air-Conditioning System Provides Comfort and Energy Efficiency in the Taylor High-Performance Home

Mitsubishi Electric Heating and Air-Conditioning System Provides Comfort and Energy Efficiency in the Taylor High-Performance Home

Located in Austin, Texas, the Taylor High-Performance Home utilizes a Mitsubishi Electric heating and air-conditioning system to maximize comfort and energy efficiency. The Taylor family looked for a system that was flexible and could accommodate their varying needs. A key component of the high-performance heating and cooling system is its ability to use only the precise amount of energy required to meet set point temperature.

Not only does the Mitsubishi Electric system fit the Taylor family’s performance requirements, but it’s also ideal for the home’s structural space. Without an attic, proper air circulation was a primary consideration for the homeowners and builders.

“Air distribution is always the biggest challenge because we need to get large volume air out from these units to the desired locations,” said Tom Sullivan, an associate of CleanTag LLC, a local builder that specializes in building high-end residences.

The Taylor High-Performance Home received AIA’s 2019 Design of Excellence Award.

“Mitsubishi Electric has super-efficient systems,” said contractor Ignacio Moreno, owner, New Results Heating and Cooling. “This is a comfort solution for the homeowners.”

Learn more about the Taylor High-Performance Home here. Check out Mitsubishi Electric’s website for more information about energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning systems.

Full Gut Rehabilitation for a 1924 Colonial Home

Full Gut Rehabilitation for a 1924 Colonial Home

This 1924 Colonial Home in Norwalk, CT was in a state of complete disrepair before homeowners Maureen Mahle and Steve Klocke began a total gut rehabilitation of the house. They initiated the renovation process after the home was stripped down to its foundation, framing, and floors.  

Over the course of a year, Maureen and Steve renovated the home with features such as updated insulation, heat pumpsand an efficient air sealing system. They wanted to produce as much of their own operating electricity as possible to achieve a net zero home.  

Maureen and Steve also took aesthetics, decarbonization, and indoor air quality into consideration during their all-electric renovation.

Maureen Mahle and Steve Klocke are Steven Winter Associates, Inc. employees. This is a Steven Winter Associates, Inc. project. 

All-Electric Home in Connecticut Shows Resiliency During Tropical Storm

All-Electric Home in Connecticut Shows Resiliency During Tropical Storm

Last year, homeowners Maureen Mahle and Steve Klocke completely renovated 1924 Colonial home in South Norwalk, CT. Maureen and Steve implemented photovoltaics and battery storage in their all-electric home to maximize energy efficiency

In August 2020, Hurricane Isaias caused severe damage across the East Coast of the U.S. In Norwalk, CT, communities experienced vast electricity outages caused by collapsed trees and damaged power lines. 

With their all-electric energy system and backup batteries, Maureen and Steve were protected from the tropical storm. Maureen and Steve have a young toddler and particularly value the safety their energy system provides. 

Maureen Mahle and Steve Klocke are Steven Winter Associates, Inc. employees. This is a Steven Winter Associates, Inc. project.

How to Achieve Energy Efficiency and Affordability in Zero Energy Homes

How to Achieve Energy Efficiency and Affordability in Zero Energy Homes

*Adapted from: Zero Energy Project

Extremely Energy Efficient Homes

Here’s how you can start building and designing affordable Zero Energy homes while maximizing energy efficiency. These tips will help you utilize commonly available building materials and equipment along with easy-to-learn building strategies. By following these steps, you can build a new home that is affordable to build and costs less to own.

1. Start with Smart Design

Cost-effective zero net energy homes begin with smart design. Designers and architects, as well as builders, and homebuyers, should be familiar with all the energy efficiency steps involved in building a net zero home. And the home should be designed so that builders and subcontractors can implement these steps as cost-effectively as possible. There are several design parameters to which builders should ask designers to pay special attention. Detailed communication between the builder and designer will ensure that these critical details don’t fall through the cracks.

2. Use the Sun for Renewable Energy

Grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) panels currently provide the most cost-effective form of renewable energy for a zero energy home. They can power all the energy needs of a home including lighting, heating and cooling systems, appliances and hot water. However, they are the most expensive component of a zero energy home and strategies for reducing or mitigating those costs are important to consider.

3. Select Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics

Since zero energy homes have highly energy efficient building shells and use high efficiency HVAC and water heating equipment, a new category, appliances and electronics, becomes the most  significant source of energy expenditure in zero energy homes. As a result, selecting high efficiency appliances and electronics becomes the final step needed to minimize home energy use

4. Super-Seal the Building Envelope

Super-sealing the building envelope is the single most cost-effective measure builders can take to improve the energy efficiency of a zero energy home. Several proven, air-sealing approaches are available. Choose an approach that matches your climate, skills and budget.

5. Use Highly Insulated Windows and Doors

Windows and doors are like big energy holes in a well insulated, airtight building envelope and are the third most cost-effective opportunity for making a home energy efficient. Control window and door heat loss and gain by selecting appropriate window and door products, carefully locating them, and optimizing their size and orientation.

6. Create an Energy Efficient, Fresh Air Supply

Since zero energy homes are so airtight, a continuous source of fresh filtered air and moisture control are critical to its success. This need for ventilation has a silver lining: zero energy homes are healthier and more comfortable than standard homes. Highly energy efficient ventilation systems, known as heat recovery ventilation (HRV) systems or energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems expel stale air while recovering its heat and returning that same heat to the home.

 

Learn more at Zero Energy Project.

Team Zero is partnered with Zero Energy Project and the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA).

“Walk the Wok” in the Year of the Ox: An “Electric” Chinese New Year Cooking and Ventilation Celebration

“Walk the Wok” in the Year of the Ox: An “Electric” Chinese New Year Cooking and Ventilation Celebration

This Chinese New Year, Chef Rachelle Boucher of Kitchens to Life shared her tips and tricks for using induction cooking to make traditional Chinese holiday dishes. Boucher has worked with So Fun, a chef who specializes in various Chinese cuisines, to adapt these authentic recipes for induction cooking and ventilation. 

In the Electric Kitchen Workshop, Chef Boucher uses the Elica NikolaTesla Switch cooktop and the Elica Haiku hood for her induction cooking and ventilation demonstration. While the chef prepares a Chinese New Year fish recipe using a wok on her stovetop, Brady Seals from RMI explains some of the health impacts of gas cooking. 

Seals is a Manager in RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings program. Last year, she researched the health impacts of cooking with gas. She notes that 1 in 3 households cook with gas, while 1 in 4 homes are all electric.  

“We know that for the climate and increasingly, for health, we have to find new ways to use energy that are renewable and clean,” said Seals. 

Alex Siow, founder of Zephyr Ventilations, has been working with ventilators and electric systems both nationally and globally. At Zephyr, Siow worked with his team to build hundreds of ventilation products, focusing on air quality in residential kitchens. He explains that large ventilators have become more popular over the years. However, while they can be effective, large ventilators have significant drawbacks. 

“The byproducts are noise and energy consumption,” Siow said. “A lot of the time, you also have this big, bulky, restaurantlooking hood.”  

Another factor in the global scope of using gas cooking is the discrepancies in resources available to communities of different income levels. Brady Seals explains that lowincome communities are more susceptible to the negative effects of gas cooking due to the prevalence of smaller housing units and higher numbers of occupants.  

“The more people who want to learn about this issue and want induction cooking is great,” Seals said, “but we also need policymakers to incentivize it for those who are feeling the effects of climate change emissions already in and around their homes.” 

San Francisco recently instituted a policy that prohibits all new building constructions from using gas cooking appliances. 

“We are helping to raise awareness. This isn’t the electric stove of twenty years ago,” Alex Siow said. 

 

Learn more about induction cooking and ventilation by watching this webinar at EEBA’s Learning Center here. 

TEAM ZERO Inventory Shows Robust Growth and Pipeline in Zero Energy Housing Market

TEAM ZERO Inventory Shows Robust Growth and Pipeline in Zero Energy Housing Market

The residential Zero Energy (ZE) market continues to grow across the United States and Canada, according to the TEAM ZERO 2019-2020 Zero Energy Residential Buildings Inventory. The study, which shows significant increases in multifamily units and overall energy performance, was released by TEAM ZERO, in cooperation with the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA).

The new report documents an increase in total Zero Energy projects to 27,965 units from the previous 22,146 units in 2018. These single and multifamily units are working to achieve Zero Energy performance in design, construction, and/or operation.

In this survey, TEAM ZERO uses six years of inventory collection to discuss the development of ZE homes with different climates, energy sources, and project scopes. The survey provides findings on Zero Energy residential design and construction activity, including developments in the process of achieving Zero Energy. ZE buildings aim to produce the same amount of renewable energy as they consume through high levels of energy efficiency.

“The almost 28,000 projects provide a proven template for the success of high-performance technologies and building innovations being successfully adopted today,” said Aaron Smith, CEO of EEBA and Board Treasurer of Team Zero.

Additional findings include:

Multifamily projects comprise 75% of the total ZE residential inventory. In the US, multifamily units make up 73% of the country’s ZE stock, a notable increase from 67% in 2018. Canada maintained its 90% share of multi-family projects in its total ZE inventory.

Findings show a significant rise in overall energy performance. The ZE category grew by more than one-third over the past year from 29% of units to 38.6%, the majority of which are ZE-ready.

In 2019-2020, California grew its lead in the number of ZE projects (10,959 units) and Colorado increased its ranking from 7th to 5th place (1,311 units).

For the first time, TEAM ZERO’s inventory report incorporates data related to fuel types, energy system analysis and “Off-Grid” homes.

ABOUT EEBA TEAM ZERO 

In 2020, TEAM ZERO, formerly the Net Zero Energy Coalition, joined forces with the Energy & Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) with the shared goal of sustainable market transformation towards a Zero Energy future.

For over 35 years, EEBA has provided the most trusted resources for building science information and education in the construction industry.

Read about the EEBA TEAM ZERO alliance here.

To learn more about memberships, donations, and sponsorships, visit TEAM ZERO and EEBA.