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Years ago I joked about writing a blog post called “I Don’t Care About Global Warming”. The idea was that focusing on an issue of such a massive scale, and seemingly so distant in space and time from the typical person’s everyday lives and challenges, was futile. Plus, you have climate deniers. So why bother with a contentious message that keeps leading to arguments and distracts from what needs to be done? We should just focus on what people understand first-hand and personally care about: clean air and water, affordable utility bills, food on the table, healthy homes. This will be enough.

But in fact, small and uncoordinated efforts are NOT enough. Our planet—and the future of humanity—is in a state of emergency. We've been cavalier in gambling our future livelihoods, yet losers in this real-life game of climate change already abound: commercial beekeepers in Nebraska who have moved north to South Dakota; declining ski seasons—and associated revenues—in mountain towns; the 85 fatalities from California’s Camp Fire in 2018 (the deadliest wildfire season ever recorded in the state). Goldman Sachs’ recent report,
TAKING THE HEAT: Making cities resilient to climate change, is a call to action for anyone still sleeping. 

We need a critical mass to be brave and take bold action NOW if we are to have any chance of reversing the trend we started 200 years ago and have accelerated exponentially over the last 75.  And it is happening! Just ten years ago, Copenhagen set out to be
carbon-neutral by 2025. Their radical plan is working; the city has reduced emissions more than 40% since 2005 while enjoying substantial economic growth. Here at home, the inaugural Mountain Towns 2030 conference in Park City, Utah just brought together more than 30 communities who are committed to taking bold action.

Individual actions are not enough, yet ultimately they can catalyze grassroots efforts that spur local, state, federal and world leaders to treat this like the crisis that it is. No one has said it better than visionary Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, now 81 years old, in his recent
interview with Fast Company: “The monies that are going to space exploration should be used to save our own planet right now. We’re in a triage situation... Here we’re just wasting this money going to Mars… screw Mars."

Yes. Screw Mars, save Planet Earth. Our home. Read on for actions we plan to take, insights on new staff, and takeaways from the powerful Mountain Towns 2030 conference. The theme of this issue is URGENCY, so let’s mobilize to do what we have to do!

Katy Hollbacher

Principal & Founder, Beyond Efficiency

How can Beyond Efficiency maximize impact around the urgency of climate change?

The Beyond Efficiency Team Reveals...
Katy Hollbacher, Principal: We need to leverage our hands-on experience and understanding with what it takes to achieve zero-energy, carbon-sequestering, life-enhancing, and enduring buildings to have much greater impact than the limited number of projects we're able to work on directly. Our business model is to significantly expand our work in education and training, research, and policy development to make this happen!
Dan Johnson, Sustainability Architect Leader: We're doing a good job at getting gas combustion out of new buildings, but 50% of California's carbon pollution is transportation-related. 70% of this is passenger vehicles. We've got to advocate at every public meeting to dedicate more space to buses, bikes, and walkers. Our personal actions need to demonstrate that radical change is required right now; taking an emergency approach to one's lifestyle change needs to be the social norm!
Jennifer Love, Senior Sustainability Engineer: Helping multifamily design teams incorporate heat pump based domestic hot water systems. Much of the hesitancy of adopting heat pump DHW is lack of understanding of the technological options and costs. We can demystify these systems and help the team feel confident about moving in this direction with all due haste.
Jayant Patil, Energy + Systems Specialist Manager: 
1. Providing clients with design solutions that dissuade them from implementing natural gas fueled systems. 2. Making sure an "all electric" approach is echoed to every single design agency involved in the designing phase. 3. Following these approaches for existing buildings: Evaluate (Benchmarking kWh) - Measure (Audit) - Retrofit (Retro-commissioning, installing new ECMs). 

Read the rest of the Beyond Efficiency team's answers.

New staff profile: Peter Grant

Research Manager in Berkeley
by Laken Allen   

Peter has been researching building energy topics since starting his Master's degree from the Building Systems Program at the University of Colorado in 2007, including a Research Assistant position at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  His primary areas of research have historically included hot water systems, development of simulation models, and simulation model calibration and validation. Get to know Peter!

Q: What's your favorite thing about working at Beyond Efficiency?
A: So far, the open, ambitious, and entrepreneurial spirit. BE's desire to come up with novel approaches and make them a reality is a big part of what brought me here.

Q: What do you do?
A: I research new ways to make buildings more energy efficient, and make our simulation tools more closely match reality.

Q: What are the most exciting trends you see today in sustainable building?
A: I'm thrilled to see the fields of building energy and artificial intelligence (AI) merge.

Q: What's a secret talent no one would know about you?
A: Parlo italiano 

New staff profile: Harshul Singhal

Senior Energy Engineer in Berkeley
by Laken Allen   

Harshul holds a Master of Science in Built Environment degree from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Malaviya National Institute of Technology. He specializes in high performance design strategies and has extensive analytical knowledge of building energy performance. Get to know Harshul!

Q: What are the most exciting trends you see today in sustainable building, and outside of the building industry?
A: Utility companies pushing the investors for sustainability. And big data! Outside of the industry - how some of folks are going back to a healthy life style - free of excessive technology and bad eating habits.

Q: What's a recent work accomplishment you're really proud of?
A: Working on some amazing renowned international building projects

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Photography and hiking

Q: What's an amazing accomplishment most people wouldn't know about?
A: I am very good in kayaking

New staff profile: Nathan Iltis

Energy Engineer in Berkeley
by Laken Allen   

Nathan earned his Master of Science in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. His focus program was Atmosphere & Energy, and his coursework detailed solutions to the climate crisis. Nathan seeks to understand how best to reduce emissions in buildings across the country, whether by employing new efficiency techniques, deploying data science and new technologies, or supporting new codes and standards that minimize emissions. Get to know Nathan!

Q: What's your favorite thing about working at Beyond Efficiency?
A: We have a culture of passion surrounding our work and at the same time I feel entirely supported to live a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Q: What are the most exciting trends you see today in sustainable building?
A: Policy is finally reaching a point where it is sufficiently aggressive to drive real decarbonization of the building industry, and building code development is relatively responsive to trends in the industry related to sustainability and renewables.

Q: What's an amazing accomplishment most people wouldn't know about?
A: I successfully went from sea level in California to the top of the third tallest peak in North America (Mexico), celebrated Dia de los Muertos, and came back in under four days.

Q: What would you do if you weren't helping create enduring human-centered buildings?
A: I would help create some other type of enduring human-centered system, like a healthy planet!

Learn more about Peter, Harshul, Nathan, and their teammates

An "Outsider's" Perspective on the Built Environment's Role in Climate Change
Mountain Towns 2030 Recap
by Laken Allen, Operations Manager

I’m late to the party. Prior to working at Beyond Efficiency, I couldn’t have told you what a heat pump was, nor what Passive House meant. I only had a vague understanding of what a net zero building was, and how important windows, R-values and insulation were. I understood the academic meaning of “retrofitting,” but had no idea how it could factor into reducing or avoiding carbon emissions. All I knew was that I wanted to do my part to combat climate change.

I don't have a technical role at Beyond Efficiency, and I don’t have an engineering background. But, over my last four months here, I have started to absorb the impact the built environment can have on emissions, for better or worse, and how much emissions matter. For me, attending Mountain Towns 2030, a net zero summit held in Park City earlier this month, really drove home the urgency surrounding that need for change.

Over the course of the conference, three other Beyond Efficiency teammates and I were treated to a speech by Dr. Jane Goodall and not one, but two, masterclasses from Paul Hawken on the one hundred “most substantive ways we can reverse global warming,” (ix) as outlined in Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global WarmingMy biggest takeaway from the event was to read up on drawdown, the point in time when the concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere begins to decline on a year-to-year basis, and implement some strategies in my life.

I was interested in what Beyond Efficiency and I could do to help the planet get to the point where we start to see the line in the chart below trend down.


Read more about Drawdown and the role Beyond Efficiency can play in reversing climate change. Plus, stay tuned for Katie's perspective on Mountain Towns 2030.

Noteworthy Events

We'll be presenting, attending, or wishing we were there

Dan Johnson to present at Get Ready for 2020

November 5, 2019 
Get Ready for 2020, Berkeley, CA
Beyond Efficiency's Dan Johnson will be sharing our architectural + HVAC strategies surrounding electrification for home builders & designers. This free workshop will cover the nuts and bolts of electrifying housing. 

October 23-24, 2019
Design 4 People Conference, Boston, MA
Hosted by the USGBC MA, this conference will inspire, celebrate, energize, and help attendees discover new ways to help people through design. Design 4 People empowers design leaders to raise their work to a new level and help them understand how to improve human output within the built environment.

November 7-8, 2019
Building Resilience 2019Cleveland, OH
Building Green, The International Living Future Institute, and the Resilient Design Institute will host the first national gathering of building industry professionals focused exclusively on how to create more resilient buildings and communities.

November 8, 2019
Women in Leadership Summit, Jackson, WY
Womentum presents "The Power of Connection" featuring  Jensine Larsen of World Pulse. The full day summit will increase knowledge and awareness of women's issues with workshops and training in professional and personal development. 

Join us for our Beyond Efficiency Chamber Mixer!

November 14, 2019 
Chamber Mixer, Jackson, WY
Beyond Efficiency is thrilled to be hosting its first ever Chamber Mixer at Altamira Fine Art.  Chamber Mixers offer an opportunity to get involved with the community, make new connections, and learn about Jackson Hole businesses and nonprofits. Join us for refreshments, networking and raffle prizes (including a grand-prize home energy monitor)!

November 19-22, 2019 
Greenbuild International Conference + Expo
Atlanta, GA

As the world's largest conference dedicated to green building, Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work.  It will offer a forum for the green building community to unite, change lives, revolutionize business and address pressing issues.

December 4-8, 2019
North American Passive House Conference
Washington, DC

NAPHC is the leading passive building conference for climate-specific zero energy design, construction, and building science expertise. The 14th annual event is honored, proud, and delighted to host economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin as the keynote speaker.

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